#2: Theatre of Epidaurus

A rainy Sunday afternoon in Nafplio (near the Argos theatre) gives us time to write about our measurements in the Epidaurus theatre. While I’m writing this blog, sitting in a coffee corner, the other group members are analysing some of our data, checking the balance and thinking about the measurements in the Argos theatre.

Last Thursday we were in the Epidaurus theatre to prepare our measurements for Friday. It became immediately clear that this theatre needs a different approach than the Odeon of Herodus Atticus theatre in Athens. While we were the only people in the theatre in Athens, in Epidaurus it was a come and go of tourists. Furthermore the surfaces in the Epidaurus theatre were more coarse and less intact than those in Athens. So we had to be careful when walking through the theatre with our equipment, we don’t want any injuries! With its 14.000 seats, the theatre is much larger compared to the 5.000 seats the Odeon of Herodus Atticus theatre contains. On the other hand, from our experiences in Athens we’re no rookies anymore in measuring ancient theatres.

Friday morning, 05.30 our breakfast was served by the hotel owner which must have been happy with early birds like us. The van got packed and within 5 minutes we were in the Epidaurus theatre. We knew within three hours the first tourists would enter the theatre, so we needed to be quick, but careful. Before the tourists came, five lines were measured. Since our permit said we could start producing signals again at 4 pm we had a break in where we could have lunch and reconsider our tactics.

During this break an 8-year-old Dutch kid came to us because he was curious about what we were doing (and his father maybe even more!). So we did a short experiment together with the little boy. We provided him with a walky-talky and sent him to the last row in the theatre. Then we turned on our “Echo” speech source and produced a test-voice. This is a normalized human voice of 60 dB(A). When the test-voice was on and the kid was listening carefully up from the highest row in the theatre we asked him if he could hear anything. His answer was remarkable and hilarious at the same time: ‘OK, you can put him on!’.

After the break when most of the tourists went home we could continue our measurements. There were still seven lines left to measure and we had to conduct some stage measurements. When the sun disappeared and the moon lighted up the sky, the spots in the theatre turned on. These lights were not sufficient to do our work safely so we all were supported by headlights, like real miners. When all our measurements were conducted (over 3000 source-receiver combinations) and our engines ran out of fuel, we started the engine of our van and went back to the hotel.

Another theatre, other challenges, other solutions but the same satisfied feeling!

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