The Roman Theatre of Orange
(French: Théâtre antique d'Orange) is a Roman theatre in Orange,
Vaucluse, France. It was built early in the 1st century AD. The structure is owned by the municipality of Orange and is the home of the summer opera festival, the Chorégies d'Orange.
It is one of the best preserved of all Roman theatres, and served the Roman colony of Arausio
(or, more specifically, Colonia Julia Firma Secundanorum Arausio
: "the Julian colony of Arausio established by the soldiers of the second legion") which was founded in 40 BC. Playing a major role in the life of the citizens, who spent a large part of their free time there, the theatre was seen by the Roman authorities not only as a means of spreading Roman culture to the colonies, but also as a way of distracting them from all political activities.
Mime, pantomime, poetry readings and the "attelana" (a kind of farce rather like the commedia dell'arte) were the dominant forms of entertainment, much of which lasted all day. For the common people, who were fond of spectacular effects, magnificent stage sets became very important, as was the use of stage machinery. The entertainment offered was open to all and free of charge.
It has been restored to its former function, primarily for opera, alongside its use as a tourist spot. In 1981, the Roman Theatre was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List for its outstanding preservation and architecture.