The Elizabethan Theatre Zoe Dacpano, Period 1

Thesis: The Elizabethan Theater was popular among the people, had very unique architecture and popular acting companies.

Shakespeare’s Audiences

Quote #1: "most of the Globe’s audience consisted of prosperous citizens, such as merchants, craft workers, and their wives, and members of the upper class. The theaters of London were an attraction, and visitors to the city were often part of the audience" (Lander).

Commentary: The theater attracted the people of London, and tourists in the city were often in the audience crowds. Most of the theater's audience were successful people, and members of high rank noble class also. This fits in with what information collected as how even members of high rank stopped to watch plays, and tourists were often part of the audience. The theater attracted many. This is still a big part of today.

Quote #2: "Shakespeare wrote most of his plays for audiences with a broad social background. To the Globe Theatre came a cross section of London society, ranging from apprentices skipping work to members of the nobility passing the time" (Lander).

Commentary: The Globe Theatre’s audiences attracted many kinds of people from different social classes. People with high rank would even watch the plays to pass their time, and most of the audience was successful citizens. The Globe Theatre definitely attracted different groups, and everyone enjoyed watching plays there. Apprentices even skipped their work to come watch these plays.

Quote #3: "Shakespeare’s plays were also produced at the royal court, in the houses of noble families, and sometimes in universities and law schools. For most of his career, he thus wrote plays that had to appeal to people of many backgrounds and tastes" (Lander).

Commentary: This means that Shakespeare's audiences also included the royal court, and for other high class places. He had to write plays that the high class people would like and enjoy, such as noble families of high rank and law schools. He was a very popular playwright. Shakespeare's plays even appealed to those of higher rank, he wrote plays that would appeal to them. I wonder how much Shakespeare got paid to write these plays for them. This was mostly Shakespeare's career and his plays were widely known.

The Stage:

Quote #4: "The plays were performed in the afternoon. Since the stage was open to the sky, there was no need for stage lighting" (Anderson 778).

Commentary: This means that the stage was open to the sky, that the stage lighting was natural lights from the sun, and not electric lights. The afternoon provided good lighting for the plays. This fits in with what I know because I know that the arenas are circle shaped, so the sun can give off enough light to illuminate the stage.

Quote #5: "The stage of a public theater was a large platform that projected into the pit. This arrangement allowed the audience to watch from the front and sides. The performers, nearly surrounded by spectators, thus had close contact with most of their audience" (Lander).

Commentary: This means that the stage was set up so the audience was allowed to watch from the front and the sides. The performers were surrounded by observers, and the audience could have contact with the performers. From the article, it is told that the noble ranks sat closer up to the top and the lower class sat lower to the bottom of the stage, spectators or poor people, stood by the stage.

Quote #6: "Trapdoors were placed in the floors of the main stage for the entrances and exits of ghosts and for descents into hell. The plays were performed in the afternoon. Since the stage was open to the sky, there was no need for stage lighting" (Anderson 778).

Commentary: This means that little cellars were placed in the floors so the actors could enter through that to make their big entrance, and so the "ghosts" and the sinners to go into "hell" through the trapdoor. And, the plays had natural lighting so there was no need for electric lights. This fits in the Elizabethan theater because the sun provided natural light for the actors, and they did not usually cancel plays due to the weather, only in some situations. Shakespeare wrote his plays based on the theater structure.

Acting Companies:

Quote #7: "By the 1550s plays were almost exclusively being performed by acting companies—small groups of four to ten adult men and possibly a boy or two. Women were not permitted to act on stage until long after the Elizabethan Era, so female parts were played by boys or men dressed as women. The acting companies traveled from town to town carrying their stage scenery and costumes in wagons" (Benson, Stock).

Commentary: Only men and boys acted because women did not perform on the stage at all. An acting company has a set group. I know that women were not allowed on the Elizabethan stage, that only men performed, even plays such as Romeo and Juliet. I wonder if women ever performed.

Quote #8: "In 1578 the queen, trying to keep the theater under control, licensed only six acting companies: the Children of the Chapel Royal, the Children of St. Paul's, the Lord Chamberlain's Men, Lord Warwick's Men, Leicester's Men, and Essex's Men. These companies, and others that arose later, became competitive businesses. Most companies had been formed by a core group of actors who had invested in them. These investors were called sharers, or partners, and they divided up the profits of the company among themselves" (Benson, Stock).

Commentary: This means that the theater only had six licensed acting companies, which were very competitive. Most companies were fueled by actors who invested in them, and the money they received, split up. This fits in because acting companies were very popular and very competitive to get into and to invest in.

Quote #9: "For almost a decade, Leicester's Men were the most important theater company in London, but the Queen's Men, created by Elizabeth in 1583, soon eclipsed them. In the early 1590s, two other companies arose that were to dominate Elizabethan theater thereafter: the Admiral's Men and Strange's Men, later the Chamberlain's Men, Shakespeare's company. Other companies included Oxford's Men, Pembroke's Men, and Sussex's Men" (Boyce).

Commentary: This means that acting companies became very popular and even Elizabeth created an acting company. Many other arose after that, which were on their way to taking over Elizabethan theater. Acting companies became very important and dominated the Elizabethan theatre. This fits because men were the only ones allowed to be in acting companies, women were not allowed to be in acting companies and were shunned from them. Men and young boys were usually the actors for the plays.

Quote #10: "By 1594, he was a charter member of the theatrical company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, which was later to become the King's Men” (Beers 777).

Commentary: This means that even Shakespeare was part of a very important acting company. His acting company was supported by King James himself, and he was very wealthy. This shows how popular the Elizabethan theatre was. This fits in with the information collected so far because there have been some very important acting companies, and these acting companies have set the structure of what modern plays are like now, like Broadway for example.

Works Cited

Anderson, Robert. “Shakespeare and His Theater: A Perfect Match.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003, pp. 778-80.

Beers, G. Kylene, et al. “William Shakespeare’s Life: A Genius from Stratford.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003, pp. 776-77.

Boyce, Charles. “Elizabethan theatre.” Critical Companion to William Shakespeare: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work, Critical Companion. New York: Facts On File, Inc., 2005. Bloom’s Literature, Facts On File, Inc.

“Elizabethan Drama.” Elizabethan World Reference Library, edited by Sonia G. Benson and Jennifer York Stock, vol. 1: Almanac, UXL, 2007, pp. 163-179. Gale Virtual Reference Library, Accessed 8 Dec. 2016.

Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.


Created with images by Fran Devinney - "The Globe Theater"

Made with Adobe Slate

Make your words and images move.

Get Slate

Report Abuse

If you feel that this video content violates the Adobe Terms of Use, you may report this content by filling out this quick form.

To report a Copyright Violation, please follow Section 17 in the Terms of Use.