The theatre has its roots in Athens, circa 600 BCE. The philosopher Aristotle defined "theatre" in his Poetics, differentiating it from sacred performances that required spectators to perform certain religious rituals prior to the performance. He noted, however, that theatre broght the same kind of purification and healing to the spectator, known as theama.

Thus the physical location of such performances was called the theatron, from which the word "theatre" is derived. Works of theatre have long been favorites among rare book collectors.