Downhill from the Archaeological Museum the ancient theatre of Messene appears. It is one of the largest theatres of antiquity. A true jewel of the area that today, after the great efforts of the local authorities, archaeologists and conservators, is functional again. The goal is to promote the monument along with its natural environment and to stage plays annually. Thus the monument will not be silent and distant but will come alive in its true dimensions.
The theatre of the 3rd century BCE had an original feature: a "scenotheque" i.e. a mobile stage on wheels, rather slides, that was pulled out in order for the theatrical action to take place. It was an entire construction that moves on rails offering mobility to the whole set.
Behind it, they usually placed backdrops or paintings – the set design of the time – that represented the content of the play. Entrances to the stage, the "parodos" to the left and right facilitate the easy access of spectators and actors. The area of the orchestra (dancing space) is rather large and political congregations took place there quite often. However, in the Roman period it was used for animal hunts or gladiator games. This is how theatre and politics built bonds with the citizens. Then and today.
This is an enormous monument and the findings confirm that the people of Ancient Messene had a high financial calibre since they ordered artists of Athens to make statues and inscriptions, to stage plays and theatrical activities.
Nevertheless, the one thing that is astonishing and exists here for centuries, unhindered in this overwhelming environment is the running water. Water, the blessing of Ancient Messene, offers cleansing before the theatre. There was also a sacrificial table where sacrifices were made. All who participate – audience and actors – washed themselves: water purified them from the human passions. Today the archaeologists caretakers of the monument have chosen to let the sound of the running water to be heard during the plays.