Following research by an architectural expert from Kumamoto University, Japan, it has been revealed that Ancient Greek theaters used movable wooden stages some 2,000 years ago.
The discovery by a group from the History of Western Architecture Laboratory of Kumamoto University who were conducting a field study at the theater at Messene shows that a large storage room and three stone rows that were discovered beside the stage of the theater was similar to findings at Megalopolis and one in Sparta. At the other sites it is believed that a wheel was placed in the space to create mobile wooden stages which existed in the ancient theaters of the Hellenistic period, leading researchers to the same conclusion for the Messene theater.
According to phys.org, Associate Professor Ryuichi Yoshitake who led the research project said that the proskenion, used as a stage background and where actors were also able to speak from its balconies and skene, which was used as both a dressing room and another stage background, were separate constructs – each on their own set of wheels to make them mobile.
“In previous studies, there was a theory that the proskenion and skene were simultaneously moved along just three stone rows, but I think it is more logical that the proskenion and skene each had their own set of two stone rows to move along. I came to this conclusion due to the positions of three stone rows and the fact that it would have been quite difficult to move the heavy proskenion and skene together using a single axle with three wooden wheels,” Yoshitake explained.
More research is being conducted regarding the mobile wooden stages in order to better clarify the appearance of what the ancient stages would have looked like and the influence it had in future constructions.