The Greek Amphitheater


Students will be able to identify the different parts of the Greek amphitheatre and their purposes by assessing the pros and cons of the Greek amphitheatre.



Texts: Their bodies as text



• Markers for graffiti board
• “Festival of Knowledge: Greek Amphitheatre” handout Lesson 2.Greek Amphitheatre Sheet
• Name tags for each piece of the Greek amphitheatre



Break students into groups of 3 and have them each share their myths with each other. Give each student 60 seconds to share their myth with the group. After 3 mins bring the class back together. What was your favorite part of creating your own original myth?—TAKE 5 COMMENTS ONLY


STEP 1: Transition/Check for Understanding

The Greeks not only used myths to explain the world, but they also staged them and created plays around them. Myths were often featured in the plays at WHAT FESTIVAL (Have students shout City Dionysia). And HOW LONG did the festival last? (Have students shout a month). And they did three tragedies and WHAT OTHER KIND OF PLAY? (Have students shout out satyr play.


STEP 2: Transition

Now that we know what was in the plays that the Greeks wrote. Let’s figure out where they performed these plays. Ask the students “When we do a play today, what do we need inside the theatre building?” (i.e. lights, sets, stage, curtain, special effects, etc) Write answers down on the board. The Greeks needed all these things to, but they were a little different. Tell the students:
1. You have two options for this next activity. The first option is to create the Greek amphitheater out of our bodies on stage. The second is to take this quiz (show quiz) on what we learned about the Festival yesterday. All in favor of option 1, raise your hands. All in favor of option 2 raise your hands. Most likely the students will pick the first option.
2. Tell the students that today we are dressed as wizards. This means we have magical powers. With these magical powers, we are going to turn all of the students into stones. We are going to use the stones to build the Greek amphitheater. There is one big difference between humans and stones. STONES DON’T TALK.
3. This is the major rule of option 1. If the teacher has to say “Stones don’t talk” three times, we will automatically go to option 2. Do we have a deal?
4. When I wave my wand, you are all stones. WAVE WAND.
5. Stones, please follow us onto the stage. Move the class into the stage area.


STEP 3: Instruction/Modeling

Build the following on the stage using the students.
• Theatron
o Have all students sit in a semi-circle. Hand three students the signs that say “Theatron.”
o Info: the semicircular seating area in the amphitheatre; it was usually carved into a hillside; root word for the contemporary word “theatre”
• Skene
o Have six of the students come downstage, split into partners, and put their hands up, side by side to create a house-like structure. Give one of them the “Skene” sign.
o Info: the palace or scene house at the back of the amphitheatre; had up to 3 doors used for entrances and exits and it hid the machine
• Orchestra
o Ask four students to lay in a circle center stage. Give one of them a sign that says “Orchestra.”
o Info: the circular acting area in front of the skene where the chorus danced and the three actors performed.
• Thymele (altar)
o Have one student get on their hands and needs in the middle of the orchestra circle to become the altar. Give him/her the “Thymele” sign.
o Info: in the center of the orchestra; was not used as part of the acting; used for special sacrifices and libations in honor of Dionysus
• Parados
o Have four students come out of the semicircle (two on each side) and have them create a hallway just downstage of the theatron, but above the Skene. Have one of them on each side hold a sign that says “Parados.”
o Info: the passageway between the theatron and the skene leading to the orchestra; used for entrances and exits when characters were coming from faraway places
• Machina
o Have one student stand on a chair far downstage left holding the “Machina” sign like a crane.
o Info: a large crane house in or behind the skene; used to fly the gods or other mythical characters into the scene; used in dues ex machina
o Dues ex machina – “god is the machine”; where the gods or a supernatural power comes and resolves all the problems in the play so it ends neatly. We will see examples of this later.


STEP 4: Instruction/Modeling

Remind the students (they are still quiet stones) of the important parts of a theater we mentioned before (stage, set, curtain, lights, special effects, etc.). Ask them to point where they think each one of these elements would be in the Greek amphitheater they have created.
Curtain—Trick question. There was no curtain.
Lights—Used the daylight.
Special Effects—Machina
**At this point, take a photo of the Greek amphitheater the students have created. Tell them we will print it out and put it on our Greek graffiti board.**


STEP 5: Transition

Tell the students we will return to the classroom and once we wave the wand again, they will no longer be stones. Once they are back in the classroom and have returned to humans, do the following steps:


Step 6: Independent Practice

1. Pass out the Greek amphitheater handout to the class.
2. Ask for a student scribe to write on the Greek graffiti board.
3. Ask the students to name the terms of the Greek amphitheater we just learned about and say their purpose. Tell them to individually put them on the Greek amphitheater diagram as we go over them.
4. Remind them that this is for them to be able to study and they are responsible for this information for a future Festival of Knowledge.
5. Ask the student scribe to return to their seat.


Step 7: Transition

Now we are going to compare the Greek’s theater space to the typical theater spaces we use today.



1. Have the class divide into two groups based on their desks. Have them push the tables back a bit to make room in the front of the classroom for them to sit in the two groups.
2. Tell the students we are going to make a pro/con list on the board. Ask someone to be a scribe.
3. Ask a student to tell us what a “pro” is. Have another student tell the class what a “con” is.
4. In the two groups, one for pros and one for cons, help the students come up with 3 pros or cons of the model of the Greek amphitheater as compared to the theaters we use today.
5. Make sure to bring up any major pros or cons the class might have left out.
6. If there is time, open up the question: “Which is better? Why?” to the class.