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Theatre History or the History of Theatres.

VR simulations of landmark, historic theatres.

To gain a full understanding of theatre history, one should be familiar with theatre architecture. Plays from different historical periods have different structures. So do the theatres. As theatre buildings evolved there was a changing relationship between the actor to the audience. Where was the cause and effect; architecture, writing style, available stagecraft, or acting style? In approaching the production of a period play, informed artists will know how it was originally staged. Even when setting the script in a different historical period, they have to know how and why it was before deciding how to refashion it.

Plays by the ancient Greeks have a definite declamatory style. Characters frequently come to center and deliver lines as a grand pronouncement. The great size of theatres and lack of sophisticated stagecraft, combined with the problems of open-air acoustics may explain that style.

In Shakespeare’s works, scenes often begin with lines that describe the locale. The physical layout of theatres like The Globe restricted the use of elaborate scenery.

These Historic Theatre Simulations can be run on desktop computers (Windows and iOS), mobile devices (Android and iOS), and advanced VR systems (Oculus (Meta), Vive, and Mixed Reality).



Start by downloading and installing the free

application, SimLab VR ViewerHERE.

After you have installed the VR Viewer, click the link below for the theatre you wish to visit.

The viewer will launch automatically and begin to load the simulation. (Give it a minute).


Use the mouse to

look around and

steer while you are


Click the wheel

button to open the

options menu. There

you can change speed,

switch from walking to flying, and try other stuff.

Use Keys to Move:

Move Forward                                        OR        


Slide to                                     Slide to 

the Left                                     the Right


                  Move Backward

Hold down the SHIFT key to run. Tap the SPACE BAR to hop.

 Esc key to quit

A scroll of knowledge can be accessed simply by walking up to one. To stop the flood of information, just walk away.

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Greek and Roman odeons, or odea, were the first indoor performance spaces. In many ways, the Roman versions foreshadowed the configuration of modern theatre spaces.


The Odeon of Agrippa was built in the 1st century at the center of the Agora of Athens, or the city square. It was a gift to a conquered people from their Roman conquerors. It served the Athenians for 150 years before being destroyed by outside invaders.

Explore the odeon and imagine what it must have been like, as a performer, or as a member of the Athenian elite, sitting in the audience.

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The Theatre of Dionysus may be the world’s first theatre. It is located on the south side of the Acropolis hill, where the natural slope of the hill provided an inclined seating area.

Over centuries, the theatre evolved through five distinct eras, from a simple, flat playing space beneath the hill, through the great civilization of Greece, to the occupation of Greece by the Roman Empire, and beyond.

Take a walk through the oldest of dramatic houses, where the great works of Aeschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aristophanes were first heard.

Mobile Devices

1 Download and install the VR Viewer app from Google Play or the App Store


      Download a theatre file to your phone: HERE.



                        4 Open the new file. On the next screen, select "3D" Off you go.


3D mode functions much like a gamepad. Holding your phone or tablet in front of you, one thumb controls the view and the other, movement. 

3   Open the VR Viewer app. Open the "My Models" tab.
Add the new theatre file to the menu by clicking the icon with the "+" sign and navigating to the location of the saved file.

 Watch a video

tutorial HERE

Virtual Reality Devices

If you are rocking full VR gear, Oculus Quest, Oculus Rift, Vive, or MS Mixed Reality, then you probably don't need any additional instruction. The SimLab VR viewer is available on the Simlab site, Steam, and the Oculus store. Knock yourself out.

Old historic theatre simulations. Not nearly as cool. They will soon be replaced.

The Theater of Pompey was a theater in Ancient Rome built by one of Caesar's generals, Pompey the Great, in the waning years of the Roman Republican period. It first opened in 55 BCE and was the first permanent theatre in Rome and the largest ever built, 150-meters in diameter and 35-meters tall. It was also the first stone theatre in Rome. Pompey dedicated the Temple of Venus at the top of the cavea a few years later, in 52 BCE The cavea is thought to have seated at least 20,000 people. Because permanent seating was traditionally prohibited in the ancient city, Pompey legitimized his theatre, by dedicating it as a Temple of Venus Victrix3, with the seating in the Cavea described as the steps leading up to the temple. Pompey drew inspiration for his theater from that of Mytilene in Greece, according to Plutarch, and asked for detailed drawings of its plan. The theatre was the only permanent theatre in Rome for forty years, until it was joined by the Theatre of Balbus in 13 BC on the Campus Martius. Even so, the Theatre of Pompey continued to be the main venue for plays, both because of its magnificence and its size. All throughout its lifetime, the site was considered the premiere theatre. Aside from the temple, the pulpitum and the scanae frons were the focal points of the theatre. The pulpitum was the main stage where many theatrical performances would have taken place. The scaenae frons served as a backdrop. One luxurious feature was the uela. These awnings stretched over the auditorium to shade the spectators. This immense awning was purple according to Pliny. Behind the theatre was a large quadriporticus. The porticos of this 4-sided complex enclosed a garden with fountains and statues. Along the covered arcade were rooms where Pompey exhibited works of art he collected during his campaigns. At the opposite end of the complex was the Curia of Pompey. On 15 March 44 BC, Brutus and Cassius assassinated Julius Caesar in the curia during a Senate session.

Tapestry Hall, in Antwerp, was constructed in the sixteenth century as a vast storehouse and showroom for tapestry merchants. Part of the hall had been unoccupied after the fall of Antwerp in 1585 and the consequential flight of numerous merchants. The municipal almoners were then allotted a portion of the structure for their theatre. The new theatre was the largest theatre Antwerp had ever seen, with a length of 39.50 meters (129 ft. - 6 in.), a width of 13 meters (42 ft. - 8in.), and a house floor to ceiling height of 11 meters (36 ft.). Several artists, largely from the area but also from elsewhere, contributed to the design and construction of the theatre. The majority of these soldiers were paid, while others volunteered their services. A number of designs were proposed, but it appears that the designs were finished by Abraham Genoels, an Antwerp-born painter. Genoels was also in charge of some of the interior design as well as the scenic designs. Michael Moens, a colleague, created the ceiling painting, while others handled the wood carving, gilding, statuary, and other details. A French engineer was hired to develop the stage machinery. The audience was quite appreciative of the stage equipment. The illusion of perspective was formed by seven rows of wings and borders with backdrops. Wings were shifted by means of the “chariot and pole” mechanism that furnished fluid, simultaneous scene changes. The stage floor contained a series of trap doors and miniature elevator. The flys featured several small flying chariots and a "gloire" (a large chariot with its own perspective scenery). Backstage, the performers and management had access to eight rooms.

institute for the

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