How Do Amphitheaters Work?

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How Do Amphitheaters Work?

The first Amphitheater was built in Pompeii nearly 2,100 years ago. Since then, there has not been much change in the design. With Amphitheaters scattered across America in parks, event centers, and other shared community spaces, what makes them so popular and how do they work?

How do they work?

The best theaters have a great view and great sound from every seat. Amphitheaters create this perfect environment, originating outside but can be found inside. The tiered seating surrounds a central open area. Most of the time, amphitheaters are made from hard materials like stone to help with sound.

Sound travels through the air and depending on where the sound travels off or through, the sound can be amplified or dampened. Hard-surfaced walls or floors will create reverberation; this is the reason Red Rocks Amphitheater in Colorado is a great natural amphitheater. Other natural amphitheaters can be made from canyons, craters, or valleys which create a great acoustic environment for sound.

Most take advantage of the natural geography of the area around it, usually hilled fields that have a flat spot at the bottom where the structure can be put. Now, some of the biggest and most popular amphitheaters have a geological advantage.

What’s the difference between an amphitheater and a theater?

To be clear, Amphitheaters are a type of theater, however, not all theaters can be amphitheaters. Now, amphitheaters are like stadiums, open-air venues that use concentric seats. Theaters are like cinemas where there is a building or outdoor area, usually, with tiered seating directly in front of a stage dedicated to plays or other dramatic performances.

Why are they built with shells?

Commonly, Amphitheaters are built with a clamshell-like opening for their audience. Like our Acoustic Shells, the curvature of the shell bounces and amplifies sound towards the audience (Seen in the depiction below). Acoustic shells also pick up sound and amplify it even when standing anywhere on the stage. Examples of shelled amphitheaters are the Shoreline Amphitheatre and Hollywood Bowl.


In conclusion, amphitheaters are an amazing design made by people thousands of years ago. Today, not much has changed. From small local ones to large event stadiums built to accommodate thousands, amphitheaters are excellent for plays, sports, or musical performances.

If you have a favorite amphitheater new or old out there in the world, we would love to see and hear about it! To keep from missing out on more cool information and stories like this one, follow us on social media! Links to all of them at the bottom of this page.

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