Architecture of the Theatre: Past, Present and Future
On Tuesday, November 19 and Thursday, November 21, Professor Donatella Gorreri of Hunter College lectured on the the architecture of the theater through history, from the theatrum of Ancient Greece and Rome to the hippodromes of the 21st century. The goal of the course was to introduce participants to the development of the theater over time, focusing on the role played by the theater in different époques.
The first part of the course discussed the architecture of the ancient theater, including Archaic, Roman, Greek, and Hellenistic forms, from 3000 BCE to the Roman theater described in Vitruvius' De Architectura. Students analyzed the developmental phases of the theater and discussed every ancient theater in the Mediterranean, such as the Ancient Theater of Epidaurus, focusing on specific architectural forms.
The second lecture resumed with the "Court Theater" of the Middle Ages, the indoor venue that became a feature of Princes' palaces during the Renaissance. Prof. Gorreri reflected on the myth of the "Ideal City", and discussed the evolution of scenography with the addition of perspective and mobile scenes, as in the Olympic Theater of Vicenza. Next, participants reviewed the evolution from private theater to public theater, and the technological and scenographic advancements that came with the rapidly changing cultural and technical milieu of the 19th century. The Wagnerian theater was taken as a case study of this phase. Finally, Prof. Gorreri spoke to the developments that have occurred in the 20th and 21st centuries, including experimentation with form, structure, acoustics, space, and light. New-wave theaters in China and opera houses in the U.S. and Australia provide excellent examples of these trends.