THE AUDIENCE AND THE CHORUS
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Periodically during the late winter and early spring the Athenians assembled to celebrate their festivals of drama. The dates were associated with religious celebrations that had been in existence long before plays were invented. But one practical reason for holding them so early in the year may have been protection for the performers: Greek acting, which involved strenuous physical and vocal effort in mask and costume, was hot work at the best of times. It helped, too, that in the Theatre of Dionysus where the plays were given, the auditorium was south-facing, while the actors had some benefit from the shade. But in the early months the weather was past the worst of winter, and not yet oppressive; though some festivals, we know, were virtually closed events, because the seas were not yet navigable and outsiders could not travel.