The Elizabethan theater Julia Newbold Period 6

Thesis: The Elizabethan theater has had a strong impression in theater history through architecture, stage, costumes, and sound effects.


Quote #1: "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: In my understanding, public theater stages were quite big and faced the pit, a lowered area in front of the stage. This made it possible for the audience to view the performance from both the front and sides of the stage. The people of the audience closest to the stage were able to receive close contact with the performers. They were most likely to see them in full action, and recognize all of their facial expressions. Personally, I am familiar with pits and close contact in theaters.This is because, my good friend does theater, and I have attend many of her shows. As well as, I have been able to go on stage, and inside the pit. However, I have never been in a real theater performance, so I do not know the feeling of an actor having close contact with the audience.

Quote #2: "Elizabethan popular theaters, where modern audiences can feel what it must have been like to stand with the groundlings in the pit, eat hot cheese pies on cool summer evenings, and laugh at the antics of Malvolio on the platform stage" (Elsom).

Commentary: In my understanding, the more modern and improved theater's audiences were able to be connected and feel apart of the play. The actors interacted with people in the audience closer to the stage. The audience was able to feel their emotion, and see their facial expressions. The quote gives examples that the viewers could feel what the actors were going through and what was happening to themselves. I believe that this would be such an amazing experience, to strongly interact with the performers during their performance. To be able to feel their pain, happiness, and emotion throughout the play.

Quote #3: "The main platform represented Middle Earth where normal human relationships occurred, while the concealed space below could represent Hades, the world of death and devils, whence evil figures like Macbeth’s Witches might appear via the trap. The canopy above the stage represented heaven, from which the gods could descend by machinery" (Gallery).

Commentary: In my understanding, the stage was able to portray many different scenes and worlds. For example, the prime platform illustrated Earth filled with normal people. On the other hand, the level space below the stage represented the underworld or hell. In addition, the awning of the stage symbolized heaven.


Quote #4: "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" (Lander).

Commentary: In my understanding, there was a difference between public and private theaters. For, public theaters held at least 2,500 people, and were built around a great courtyard with no roof. I infer that without a roof, it would make the theater feel more open and spacious, especially with numerous people. In addition, public theaters did not have artificial lighting, for the theater was most likely to grand and big for so many lights. Therefore, public theaters only let performances perform during the day with natural light. I would imagine that public theaters are larger than private ones, for their name titles. I wonder if the performance was better in the front, middle, or back. I would most likely prefer the front, so I can see the actor's facial expressions, and be "into" the performance. I can follow up on the knowledge I am receiving by attending a play in both a small and large theater.

Quote #5: "In Shakespeare's day, for both the open-air and enclosed theaters, the stage jutted out toward the audience, which surrounded it on three sides. Elizabethan stages had no curtains and little or no stage machinery or even scenery" (Riley).

Commentary: In my understanding, the Elizabethan theater had an open spacious feeling. The stage stood and projected towards all of the audience. The audience was able to see from three different sides, for there were no curtains. In addition, the theater included little or none stage machinery nor scenery. Therefore, both of these things were not blocking the audience's view. I believe that this is a well designed theater. This is because it is open and free for all the eyes in the audience to see. I enjoy that there are no curtains, stage machinery, and or scenery blocking the view as well. I wonder if during the performance, the actors would turn and face all three sides, so everyone could see their facial expressions.

Quote #6: "The Elizabethan theater was both broad yet kept the vertical allegorical dimensions of the medieval stage" (Gallery).

Commentary: In my understanding, the Elizabethan theater was grand and portrayed as a magnificent monument. However, the theater still told its story and kept its historic value of the medieval time frame.

Quote #7: "A large unroofed area called the yard was enclosed by a three-storied, gallery-type structure that was round, square, or octagonal. A large, elevated platform stage projected into the yard and served as the theater's principal acting area. The audience stood in the yard or sat in the galleries, watching the play from three sides" (Novick).

Commentary: In my understanding, the "yard" was a shaped structure that had no roof. In addition, a raised stage extended out into the yard, and was used as a main acting area. The audience and viewers were able to stand in the yard, or be seated in the gallery. Moreover, the stage and performance was viewable from 3 sides. I wonder which side was better to be facing. I can follow up on this by attending a play set up in this structure.

Costumes & Sound Effects

Quote #8: " There was smoke and the noise of cannon for battle scenes, the sounding of trumpets to start battles and to announce the arrival of important figures" (Riley).

Commentary: In my understanding, music and instruments played a big part in theater performances. I believe that sound effects can really give an impact on important scenes, and can create tension as well as increase it. Music can also help introduce main crucial characters, and their arrival. Furthermore, I believe that sound plays a big part on battle scenes, for effects will make it more tramatic and realistic. From what I know and have experienced, sound effects create tension, happiness, and many other feelings. I wonder if certain sound effects worked better than others, and I believe music has a huge impact on the audience's feelings during the performance.

Quote #9: " In Elizabethan theater, as in real life, kings and queens stood out from their courtiers by the grandeur of their clothes" (Elsom).

Commentary: In my understanding, both real life and the Elizabethan theater are a lot alike. This is because kings and queens stood out and attracted attention from other lower class people. This was mainly because of the way they dressed, in which was elegant. It was also noticeable that their clothing had costed more, and was most likely better quality. I believe that it is impressive that the Elizabethan theater was able to dress the rich way kings and queens do. I am sure that it made them stand out more, and brought more reality into the plays, rather than dressing normally and calling someone a high class.

Quote #10: "Elizabethan society remained very tightly and elaborately structured, so that even such details as the clothes people wore were theoretically subject to sumptuary laws (state regulation of what was appropriate wear for different social classes). This precision means that characters in Elizabethan stage productions could rapidly be read off by audiences in terms of costume, manners, professional attributes and ideologies, which would immediately identify a character’s social standing and expertise" (Heralds).

Commentary: In my understanding, since the Elizabethan society was very strict and organized, people had to wear appropriate clothes according to their status. Therefore, during performances the viewers could easily tell who a character. The audience could assume who the actor was playing as well as their social status, by costumes and personality traits.

Works Cited

Elsom, John World & I. Jul99, Vol. 14 Issue 7, p112. 10p. 6 Color Photographs, 1 Black and White Photograph.

Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 17 Nov. 2016.

Novick, Julius. “Drama.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 30 Nov. 2016.

Riley, Dick; McAllister, Pam. Bedside, Bathtub & Armchair Companion to Shakespeare, 2001, p13-18, 6p. (Article)

Shakespeare’s Theatre: A Dictionary of His Stage Context; 2004, p197-198, 2p Shakespeare’s Theatre: A Dictionary of His Stage Context

Shakespeare’s Theatre: A Dictionary of His Stage Context; 2004, p224-225, 2p Shakespeare’s Theatre: A Dictionary of His Stage Context


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