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The Roman Theatre and Its Audience

The Roman Theatre and Its Audience

Richard C. Beacham

ISBN 9780674779143

Publication date: 02/01/1996

Drawing on recent archaeological investigations, new scholarship, and the author’s own original research and staging experience, this book offers a new and fascinating picture of theatrical performance in the ancient world. Richard Beacham traces the history of the Roman theatre, from its origins in the fourth century B.C. to the demise of formal theatrical activity at the end of antiquity. He characterizes the comedy of Plautus and Terence and the audience to which the Roman playwrights were appealing; describes staging, scenery, costuming, and performance style; and details a variety of theatrical forms, including comedy, tragedy, mime, pantomime, and spectacles.


  • The Roman Theatre and Its Audience deals not only with every era but with every genre that entertained the sons of Romulus… Beacham charts the transformation of sedate Hellenistic comedy into raucous entertainment suitable for the Roman spectators described by Horace as potus et exlex (‘drunk and disorderly’).

    —Erich Segal, Times Literary Supplement


  • Richard C. Beacham is Professor of Theatre Studies, University of Warwick.

Book Details

  • 279 pages
  • 6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press