The theatre of Epidouros is an incredibly well-preserved Greek theatre. Unlike most of the
Ancient things we've seen, it was neither ravaged and redone by Romans nor destroyed by earthquake or Persian marauders. Mostly, it got lucky because it is in the middle of nowhere, because Epidouros was a health center- a combo spa/hospital.
I know what you're thinking. “Um, why did the hospital have a theatre?” The ancient Greeks believed that sickness affected your mind as well as your body, so you had to heal both. An evening at the theatre consisted of watching 4 plays in a row- 3 tragedies, which allowed you to reflect on human flaws and be moved by sadness to tears, and then a very silly, slapstick comedy, usually involving satyrs (half-man, half-goat) to induce uproarious laughter. After laughing and crying, the satisfied, exhausted, empty-yet-full feeling they called 'catharsis.' (A word we use today!) Catharsis restored your mental and emotional balance that was critical to health.
(When my mom talks about balance some people call it 'New Age nonsense.” It's not! It's at least ancient nonsense!)
Here's my first video, live from Epidouros!
After the video, I went and stood in the center of the orchestra and recited a little “To be or not to be” It was CRAZY. The second I spoke- it was electric. I could literally hear/feel my voice connecting with every seat- somehow you could hear it simultaneously where you were and everywhere else. Like a microphone, but more- magical. HOW did the ancient greeks, with only math and stone at their disposal, make an auditorium infinitely better than any performing space I've ever been in? Food for thought.
Here's a video the back of the house (Greek for seats - auditorium) of illustrator/author Ashley Bryan. Sound issues due to my camera, not actual acoustics.