auditorium

auditorium

[aw-di-tawr-ee-uhm, -tohr-]

Portion of a theater or hall where an audience sits, as distinct from the stage. The auditorium originated in the theaters of ancient Greece, as a semicircular seating area cut into a hillside. Floor levels in a large auditorium may include stalls, private boxes, dress circle, balcony or upper circle, and gallery. A sloping floor and converging walls allow for a clear view of the stage and improve acoustics. The walls and ceilings of contemporary auditoriums usually conceal light, sound, and air-conditioning equipment.

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An auditorium (plural auditoriums, or less commonly auditoria) is the area within a theatre, concert hall, or other performance space where the audience is located in order to hear and watch the performance. For movie theaters, the number of auditoriums is also expressed as the number of screens.

The term is taken from Latin; the concept is taken from the Greek auditorium which had a series of semi-circular seating shelves in the theatre, divided by broad 'belts', called diazomata, with eleven rows of seats between each.

Modern auditorium structure

The audience in a modern theatre are usually separated from the performers by the proscenium arch, although other types of stage are common.

The price charged for seats in each part of the auditorium (known colloquially as the house) usually varies according to the quality of the view of the stage. The seating areas can include some or all of the following:

  • Stalls or arena: the lower flat area, usually below or at the same level as the stage.
  • Balconies or galleries: one or more raised seating platforms towards the rear of the auditorium. In larger theatres, multiple levels are stacked vertically above or behind the stalls. The first level is usually called the dress circle or grand circle. The highest platform, or upper circle is sometimes known as the gods, especially in large opera houses, where the seats can be very high and a long distance from the stage.
  • Boxes: typically placed immediately to the front, side and above the level of the stage. They are often separate rooms with an open viewing area which typically seat five people or less. These seats are typically considered the most prestigious of the house. A state box or royal box is sometimes provided for dignitaries.

Etymology

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