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In ancient Greek theatre, a building behind the playing area that was originally a hut in which actors changed masks and costumes. It eventually became the scenic backdrop for the drama. First used c. 465 BC, the skene was a small wooden structure facing the circle of spectators. It developed into a two-story edifice decorated with columns, with three doors used for entrances and exits. It was flanked by wings (paraskenia). By the end of the 5th century BC, the wooden skene was replaced by a permanent stone structure. In the Roman theatre it was an elaborate building facade.
This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise. For the full entry on skene, visit Britannica.com.