Shakespeare's Theater By: Alexandria Rojas Reddekopp

The Elizabethan Theatre

Thesis: I think that during Shakespeare's time there was very elaborate theaters and that people were not treated as equal as they are now a days. Also that this was show through the Elizabethan Theatre, the Globe Theatre, and the structure of the theaters during Shakespeare's time.

Quote #1: "Shakespeare wrote many of his most famous plays during Elizabeth's reign. England's first permanent theater was built in London in 1576... The Globe hosted some of the most renowned playwrights in English history including Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson. Elizabethan playwrights revolutionized English drama and the theater transformed into a place where all classes of people could come for entertainment. Elizabethan theater became one of the most influential eras of English theater history"(Caffrey 1-2).

Commentary: The Elizabethan theater refers to how theaters were during Queen Elizabeth I and located in England. In other terms the Elizabethan theater was not an actual theater but a more broad idea of what theaters were like during her time. At first I believed that the Elizabethan theater was an actual theater after research I discovered that it was the types of theater during that time. This leaves me wondering what other ideas I thought I knew but was wrong about during Shakespeare's time.

Quote #2: "The writing and staging of Elizabethan plays were strongly influenced by various dramatic conventions of that time—customs that the audience accepted and did not take literally. The most widespread convention was the use of poetic dialogue. Although Shakespeare’s plays contain prose and rhymed verse, he chiefly used an unrhymed, rhythmical form of poetry called blank verse"(Lander).

Commentary: Elizabethan plays were written so that the audience was able to connect with the play. This is why writers did not deviate and bring in other customs of other cultures because the audience would be unfamiliar. I knew that plays were influenced by the structure of the theater, but not that they were also influenced by the community events and or audience. This leaves me wondering what other influences impacted the plays.

Quote #3:"By the late 1500’s, Elizabethan plays were being performed in two kinds of theater buildings—later called public and private theaters. Public theaters were larger than private ones and held at least 2,500 people. They were built around a courtyard that had no roof. Public theaters gave performances only during daylight hours because they had no artificial lights. Private theaters were smaller, roofed structures... Private theaters charged higher prices and were designed to attract a higher-class audience"(Lander).

Commentary: This shows how vastly different the public and private theaters were during Shakespeare's time. Each theater had a target audience and plays were put on according to not only the structure but the audience that made up the crowd. In the past I understood that there was class segregation but did not know that there were separate theaters for the wealthy and the poor. This leaves me wondering what other segregation may have gone on during this time when it comes to the theater.

Quote #4: "Acting companies consisted of only men and boys because women did not perform on the Elizabethan stage... The apprentices were boys who played the roles of women and children"(Lander).

Commentary: This shows the shocking truth that back during the Elizabethan era women acting was seen and unfit. Meaning that women were thought as being incapable in doing such a task. Prior to reading this I had not know that women could not act and had found this information shocking and disappointing. Leaving me to wonder what other laws were made against women prohibiting them from other tasks.

The Globe Theatre

Quote #5: " As a cultural institution, Shakespeare’s Globe is dedicated to the research and performance of Shakespeare’s plays, with particular attention to the public playhouse in which Shakespeare was a shareholder: the 1599 Globe Theatre"(Pye).

Commentary: This public theater played a very important role in English playwright for not only Shakespeare but also many other authors who also wrote plays. The Globe was a key influence to Shakespeare's writings and the audience who saw them. I was unaware prior to reading this information that a theater would have such weight in writing a play. This leaves me wondering what other factors contribute to the scripting of a play.

Quote #6: " The stage was surrounded by several levels of seating. In 1613, the Globe burned down. It was rebuilt on the same foundation and reopened in 1614. The Globe was shut down in 1642 and torn down in 1644. A reconstruction of the theater was completed 200 yards (183 meters) from the original site in 1996, and it officially opened in 1997."(Seidel)

Commentary: This helps to show the background of the Globe theater and how important it was. Meaning that since it survived for so long it is an intricate part in the English theaters history with dates back to the late 1500s. I had known that the Globe theater had survived for a very long time but I was not aware prior to reading this that it had survived for many generations and that it was very successful. This leaves me wondering what other theaters survived this long and were actually successful.

Quote #7: "Henry V is a five-act historical play by the English dramatist William Shakespeare. Its full title is King Henry V. It was written and performed in 1599, possibly the first Shakespeare play staged at the Globe Theater, owned by Shakespeare and his acting company, in the Southwark borough of London. A passage in the play’s prologue refers to the shape of the Globe: “Or may we cram / Within this wooden O the very casques / That did affright the air at Agincourt?”(Lander 1)

Commentary: This shows the importance of the Globe Theatre to Shakespeare. As well as emphasizing the coincidence of Shakespeare's first play's prologue referring to the shape of the Globe which ties into the theater. I already knew that Shakespeare's first play was in the Globe Theatre but I did not have the knowledge that he referenced the shape of the globe and the importance of that. This leaves me wondering what other traits of the Globe Theatre are brought up in Shakespeare's plays.

The structure and appearance of theaters during Shakespeare's time

Quote #8: "It was a large, round (or polygonal) building, three stories high, with a large platform stage that projected from one end into a yard open to the sky"(Anderson).

Commentary: This encompasses what theater were like during Shakespeare's time. While also showing how similar they are to theaters during this time. Prior to reading this I knew that theaters were round but I did not know that they also could be other shapes such as square. Leaving me wondering what other traits of theaters I am mislead on.

Quote #9: "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... For the price of admission, the poorer spectators, called groundlings, could stand in the pit and watch the show"(Lander).

Commentary: This not only shows the structure of the stage but the segregation of the audience. This is important because this reveals that where people sat or stood depended on the class they were in and or how wealthy they were. Prior to this I did not know that there was segregation when it came to where a spectator sat. Making me want to go out and find out what other segregation went on in the theater during Shakespeare's time.

Quote #10: "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... For the price of admission, the poorer spectators, called groundlings, could stand in the pit and watch the show"(Lander).

Commentary: This not only shows the structure of the stage but the segregation of the audience. This is important because this reveals that where people sat or stood depended on the class they were in and or how wealthy they were. Prior to this I did not know that there was segregation when it came to where a spectator sat. Making me want to go out and find out what other segregation went on in the theater during Shakespeare's time.

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.

Caffrey, Cait. "Elizabethan Era." Salem Press Encyclopedia (2016): Topic Overviews 6­12. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.<!­­Additional Information:

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

Pye, Valerie Clayman. "Shakespeare's Globe: Theatre Architecture And The Performance Of Authenticity."

Seidel, Michael. "Globe Theatre." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

Credits:

Created with images by Kieran Lynam - "Shakespeare's Globe" • D-Stanley - "Shakespeare`s Globe Theatre" • tonynetone - "William Shakespeare" • Provenance Online Project - "Engraving of Queen Elizabeth I, with chronogram recording the year of her death (1603)"

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