There are significant differences between Roman theatre and the modern entertainment scene in terms of architecture, popular opinion, performance types, and uses of entertainment. In terms of architectural differences, Roman theatres comprised temporary structures that had no seats because politicians wanted to create the notion that a theatre was leisure and people should not be accustomed to it (Wilson and Goldfarb 219). Theatres were also open-air because of poor artificial lighting, thus, performances had to take place during the day. On the contrary, modern entertainment theatres are enclosed and have padded seats, superb artificial lights, and performances taking place at night, afternoon, or on weekends. In terms of popular opinion, Roman theatre events were considered idle entertainments having deleterious moral impacts, wherein performances entailed violence, sex, and other dissolute behavior. Unlike the Roman theatre, the modern entertainment scene is tailored to meet the interests of the populace. The general belief of the modern entertainment scene is that a theatre is a form of entertainment appropriate for the family.
Regarding the purpose of the theatre, its events in contemporary entertainment are passive, wherein audiences have the aim of seeing the show and becoming entertained. On the contrary, Roman theatre served as an opportunity where lower class people could voice their demands and complaints. In terms of performance types, Roman theatre was mainly characterized by Greek-style comedies and dramas, pantomimes, mimes, and vaudeville-type shows. Mimes incorporated dialogue, whereas pantomimes involved mythical performances without dialogue, which is analogous to present-day ballet. In modern entertainment, scene audiences perceive theatre activities as presentations involving musicals, dramas, and comedies (Wilson and Goldfarb 225).
The City Dionysia referred to a religious festival of ancient Athens undertaken to honor the god of Dionysus. The festival was a central event that marked the performance of tragedies and later comedies after 487 BC (Wilson and Goldfarb 221). Ludi Romani was a religious festival of ancient Rome. It is evident that both were religious festivals; however, there are significant differences in terms of theatrical genres. Dionysia comprised comedies, tragedies, and dithyrambs, whereas Ludi Romani comprised Roman games such as horse races, and gladiatorial and theatrical games (Wilson and Goldfarb 225). Ludi Roman was mostly public games carried with the primary goal of benefiting and entertaining the Roman people. Both City Dionysia and Ludi Romani were state-sponsored festivals in ancient Athens and ancient Rome respectively. The entertainment value of these festivals surpassed religious sentiments; as a result, Christians were not advised to attend these theatre events (Wilson and Goldfarb 230).
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