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).
In all cases, you will need to download and install
the Free application, SimLab VR Viewer HERE.
Instructions for mobile devices and VR headsets are at the bottom of this page.
ON A DESKTOP COMPUTER
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). Navigating through the theatre is easy. Watch a video tutorial HERE
Use the ARROW KEYS to move, or alternately, the W, A, S, D keys.
Hold down the SHIFT key to run.
Tap the SPACE BAR to hop.
Esc key to quit
Move the mouse to look around and steer when moving.
Click the Scroll Wheel Button to open the options panel.
(Change from walking to flying, change speed, and more.)
A scroll of knowledge can be accessed simply by walking up to one. To stop the flood of information, just walk away.
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 designed in the Roman style but had features that were favored by Greek patrons. It 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 conquerors. It served the Athenians for 150 years, collapsed, then was rebuilt and stood for another century 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.
Use Keys to Move:
Slide to Slide to
the Left the Right
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.
Open the history sim on this page. The app will start automatically. It takes a minute or two.
After loading, a menu appears. Here you can choose among saved simulations and choose the preferred viewing mode. Start with 3D viewing.
3D mode functions much like a gamepad. Holding a phone or tablet in front of you, one thumb controls the view and the other, movement.
Watch a video
VR mode is a real trip. In this mode, separate right and left eye stereoscopic images are generated. Using a stand-alone VR device like the Oculus Quest 2, you are ready to explore. When using a phone, you will need a suitable goggle, like the $5 Cardboard viewer shown here. (Yes, it is called cardboard because... ) A small pinpoint cursor will appear in the center of the view. To move, aim and hold the cursor on a spot in the direction you want to travel.
Watch a video
Virtual Reality Devices
If you are rocking full VR gear, 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.