As you enter the South Theatre through a wooden door between the arches, there’s little to suggest the treasure encased by the plain exterior. But then you emerge into the upper seating area… Built between AD 81 and 96 and once housing 5000 spectators in its two storeys of seating (only one tier of which remains), the theatre is almost perfect.
Sit in row 30 of the 32 rows of seats (if you can read the Greek numbers) and you’ll see how the elaborately decorated stage is just a foreground for the backdrop of ancient and modern Jerash. The light at sunset melts the stage surface. Cue music? That’s provided by the visitors who whisper experimental choruses and the members of the Jordanian Scottish bagpipe band who, with less subtlety, blast sporadic tunes to the four winds to illustrate the excellent acoustics.
The theatre comes into its own during the Jerash Festival of Culture & Arts, when it proves as worthy a venue today as it was for the ancients 2000 years ago.