In the Roman theater the apron of the stage was created by extending the playing area over the orchestra, where important members of the audience were seated. The entire structure was often enclosed and built on level ground. The background, the three-door skene, was always a street; from the point of view of the actor facing the audience, off left indicated the town or adjacent points and off right indicated an exit to the country or distant points. A curtain was sometimes used to open the play; it was dropped into a trough as the play began. The Romans were probably the first to use torches and lamps at evening performances.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.