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The Elizabethan Theatre
Transcript of The Elizabethan Theatre
The Elizabethan Theatre
The purpose of building the theatre outside of the city was due to the reason that London did not approve, simply because they did not have the space to construct them. As a result, plans for many theatres were turned down.
The Fame and Glory of the Globe Theatre
The Globe Theatre rose to fame mostly due to the reason that this was the theatre in which many of Shakespeare's best plays were performed. He performed most of his plays at the Globe Theatre because he was the co-owner of it.
London forbade plays to be performed inside the city boundaries in 1596. This is mainly because the people who lived in London were predominantly strict Protestants called Puritans. They despised forms of entertainment like plays because they believed it was a breeding ground for sins. The theatre was unsanitary, causing illness to spread rather quickly. Crimes increased in places near the theatre. Religious and political officials had no other choice but to ban theatres inside the city boundaries. This was the silent reason for why theatres were not built inside the city. Nonetheless, the ban that prevented the construction of theatres in London brought more attention to theatres outside the city boundaries, such as the Globe Theatre. It was a new theatre home to plays written by Elizabethan playwright, William Shakespeare.
Cost of Standing Room in the Globe
The cost of the standing room in front of the stage at the globe was one penny. Pennies were placed in a box near the entrance. Profits went to the Globe Company members and owners including Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare.
Richard Burbage was a short, fat actor who played leading roles in many of Shakespeare's plays. Richard's father James obtained permission to build the Globe Theatre in 1596. Born in 1569, Burbage was about thirty years old when the original Globe Theatre was constructed. Burbage is acknowledged for painting the
portrait of Shakespeare . Burbage played roles as King Lear, King Othello, Richard III, and most notably, Hamlet. Burbage married a women named Winifred and lived in Halliwell, London. He died in 1619
Where Were They Built?
Most theatres were built away from the city in outlying districts, outside of London.
People would enter the theatre once they paid one penny at the
. Prior to the beginning of the performance, the admission collectors would take this box backstage into the
In order to enter the galleries, one had to pay a penny for every staircase that they used to access these galleries.
were the people who owned the theatre. There were
under the wooden floor of the stage to enable special effects to transpire. The stage in the theatre had certain dimensions. It was 25 by 15 by 45 feet. The stage rose at one end three to five feet. A roofed, house-like structure, supported by two pillars was located at the rear of the stage. On top of the stage was the
, a false ceiling that sheltered. Its purpose was to hide actors. People of all classes were allowed to watch plays as long as they paid the price.
were commoners, who paid a penny to watch a play. They would stand on the ground in the
, or open air arena of the theatre, because seats were not provided for them. Behind the stage, out of the sight of all spectators was the
, a room backstage where actors changed clothes and set up props for future use in performances.
What time of day did performances take place?
Shakespeare's performances took place in the afternoon, usually after lunchtime.
painted by RIchard Burbage
The playing company William Shakespeare initially worked for as an actor and playwright was called Lord Chamberlain's Men. It became one of the most popular companies that performed plays by 1603.
Lord Chamberlain’s Men was favored by wealthy and common people alike. It originally consisted of William Shakespeare, the playwright, Ben Johnson, Thomas Dekker, Francis Beaumont, and John Fletcher.
Globe Theatre History
Lord Chamberlain's Men
A long pole with a certain colored flag protruded from the theatre to inform people what the play was about, specifically its genre. They used a black flag to represent a tragedy about to be performed, a white flag for a comedy about to be performed, and a red flag for a historic play about to be performed.
Costumes consisted of expensive and luxurious materials. The costumes were made up of many layers of clothing and varied depending on the character they were portraying. Along with clothing, the actors also wore makeup. It was composed of white powder to lighten the skin, red dye to make cheeks and lips more rosy, and wigs or hairpieces.
Male actors played all of the female roles. The law forbade women from performing in the Elizabethan theatre because acting was not considered a credible job. Female roles were typically played by boys, ages thirteen to nineteen. Their voices were still high and their muscles had not fully developed, so they were able to play women more convincingly.
Who played female roles and why?
There was no scenery used in Elizabethan drama. Unlike in today's theatre, where the curtain closes and the scenery changes to create the illusion of a change in location and time, Elizabethan plays lacked the portable painted backdrops. The stage remained almost completely empty, but the action in the play could flow freely and quickly from place to place. Audiences did not know where each scene was taking place until it was made clear through the dialogue of the actors.
Actors' Skills and Abilities
However, the lack of scenery was compensated for by the use of many different props. Props are items actors used throughout the course of a play. Most Elizabethan theatre troupes collected a variety of props that could be used over and over again in different plays. Many of these props were small, for example chairs, swords, or banners. These were easily carried on- and offstage by actors. In some cases, props were too big to be handled so easily, such as fake fountains, trees, tombs, and chariots. Props like these had to be brought on and taken off by stagehands, which happened in plain sight of the audience. Sometimes even "dead" bodies were dragged off in this manner. Hidden props were often used to create realistically gory death scenes. An actor would bring a hidden bladder of pig's blood onstage, and it would spout when punctured by a dagger. Animals' intestines could also be used in torture scenes.
Besides having the obvious acting skills required, actors of Elizabethan theatres required other abilities. It was important to be fast in order to change quickly and get back on stage. As well as that, actors needed to have no stage-fright because they had to perform in front of many other people and may have to do things they do not want to, such as kiss other actors of the same gender.
By Laura Frustacci, Orlando Rodriguez, Benedict Grubner, Marlea Gainley, and Aysha Afzal