Altogether there are ten autonomous paintings, one in each of the tympana that adorn the state staircases and five in each of the two wings.
While the cycle of paintings in the right staircase represents the evolution of the theatre and three classical playwrights, the left-hand side focuses on the themes of music, dance, medieval mystery plays and the ex-tempore stage.
All the scenes depict actors together with their audiences. In keeping with the spirit of the times the artists strove for historical accuracy, which manifests itself in such details as clothing, etc.
In the staircase on the right, starting from the entrance and with the painting in the tympanum, there is the "Altar of Dionysos", "Thespis' Cart" (both by Gustav Klimt), "Ancient Theatre Scene" (Franz Matsch), "Shakespeare's Globe Theatre" (Gustav Klimt), and "Scene from Molière" (Ernst Klimt). The cycle in the left-hand staircase consists of the "Altar of Apollo", "Ancient Ex-Tempore Actor" (Franz Matsch), "The Theatre at Taormina" (Gustav Klimt), “Medieval Mystery Play” (Franz Matsch) and "Clown on a Fairground Stage" (Ernst Klimt).