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12
ture, in terms of its architecture, in terms
of the influence it had on later buildings."
The team have already completed recon-
structions of almost 30 theatre sites in
Europe, ranging from the Theatre of
Dionysus to the Globe Theatre in London,
in order to gain a better understanding of
ancient plays and the places where they
were first staged. Professor Beacham says,
"By learning about the setting of a play,
you can understand aspects of the drama
much better.You can really feel what it
was like to watch a performance thousands
of years ago."These sorts of applications of
visualisation technologies create opportu-
nities for research that have never been
possible before. As
we begin to develop
the methods and
theory for such stud-
ies new understand-
ings will emerge, as
will whole new lines
of inquiry.
For more informa-
tion please contact:
Drew Baker, e-lab
3D Visualisation
Group, University
of Warwick,
d.baker@warwick.ac.uk, or Professor
Richard Beacham, School of Theatre
Studies, University of Warwick,
R.Beacham@warwick.ac.uk.
A case study on Theatron can be found
in the recent DigiCULT Technology
Watch Report (pp. 104-105), which
explores the benefits of VRML in Cultural
Heritage applications.This Technology
Watch Report can be downloaded from:
http://www.digicult.info .
B
RINGING
A
NCIENT
G
REEK THEATRE TO LIFE WITH INTERACTIVE
VIRTUAL ARCHAEOLOGY
T
he Odeon of Pericles was the first
indoor theatre, built 2500 years ago in
Ancient Greece.The theatre today is no
more than a pile of ruins on the south
slope of the Acropolis but, thanks to the
Theatron project at the University of
Warwick (http://www.theatron.org), you
can now enter a virtual reconstruction of
the Odeon, find the best seat, or `stand' on
the stage.
A
rchaeological research coupled with
state-of-the-art 3D technology
allowed the team to reconstruct the theatre,
complete with its polygonal roof and
around 80 supporting columns. Mr Drew
Baker, a Multimedia Designer with e-lab
(http://www.warwick.ac.uk/3d/) at the
University of Warwick, explains the bene-
fits of 3D imaging: "Virtual reality models
of historically important but long-lost
ancient sites inject new life into study and
enable students and researchers to walk
around theatres, many of which have long
since disappeared.The creations enable
people to look at intricate details and pro-
duce 3D representations to help experience
time, space and lighting in a way far more
engaging than a lecture or set of slides."
I
n fact, the virtual Odeon indicates that
the rows of supporting columns would
have obscured parts of the stage for
around 40% of the audience and the best
view was actually from the beams of the
roof.This finding indicates that emphasis-
ing the grandeur and spectacle of the
3000-seat auditorium itself was probably
more important to the Ancient Greeks
than providing clear sight lines to the
stage. It is likely that the great plays of
Periclean Athens would have been held in
the nearby open-air theatre of Dionysus
(also digitally reconstructed by the
Theatron team) and the Odeon would
have been used more for events such as
recitals or auditions.
P
roject leader Professor Richard
Beacham, from the School of Theatre
Studies at the University of Warwick,
states that recreating the Odeon with
interactive virtual archaeology allows us
to better understand the theatre both in
terms of its drama and its historical con-
text: "Most people who walk past it are
not really aware that there was quite an
important building there in terms of cul-
VR reconstruction of the Odeon of Pericles
Reconstruction of the Theatre of Dionysus
Theatron project,
Univ
ersity of
W
arwic
k,
2003,
www
.theatron.org