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The Theatre

The theatre was a semi-circular building in which tragedies, comedies and other ancient forms of entertainment were performed.

The theatre of Libarna is dated to the first century AD. The building was located in the north-western part of the urban area. Our understanding of the building and its monumental nature is now limited because the original excavations were carried out at a time when the main interest was simply in bringing to light the monuments; and because the structure has been much damaged by the activities of farmers and by the construction of two railway lines. Nevertheless, the theatre must have been outstanding both in terms of its architecture and its decoration, as is revealed by the finds of decorated architectural elements, precious marble revetments, and painted plaster.
The crucial parts of the theatre were made of concrete that was faced with small stone blocks and with courses of brick. The building was probably designed on two levels: an external ambulatory with twenty-two arches supported by pillars on sandstone bases and an upper order that was probably blind, without openings.

There was a central, main entrance, flanked by two side entrances, and four secondary entrances at the ends of the radial corridors giving access to staircases.
In the interior, the cavea and scaena formed a single, unified block, which allowed for excellent acoustics. In front of the orchestra, that is the semi-circular space between the steps and the stage (originally intended for the chorus’ performances), the holes that housed the lifting mechanisms for the curtain can still be seen in the foundations of the stage.
As was usual, at the back of the stage building there was a porticoed garden (porticus post scaenam), probably with a fountain in the middle. Here the spectators could walk between one show and the next.
The theatre could host several hundred spectators.