Elizabethan Era By: Samantha martin p.5

The Procession Picture, c. 1600, showing Elizabeth I borne along by her courtiers

Thesis: Shakespeare greatly impacted the world of theater today, and contributed to the literature and theater works remarkably during the Elizabethan age.

The Elizabethan Era

Quote 1: "Elizabethan Age, or Elizabethan Era, was a period of English history during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, from 1558 to 1603. Elizabeth was a strong ruler who gained the loyalty and admiration of her subjects. The Elizabethan Age is sometimes called the Golden Age, because it was a time of great achievement in England. Under Elizabeth, England advanced in many areas. Merchants formed a great trading company, the East India Company, in 1600. Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, and other English adventurers explored the Caribbean region and the coasts of North and South America. English literature flowered during the Elizabethan Age, with the work of such writers as Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, Christopher Marlowe, Edmund Spenser, and William Shakespeare. Notable composers from the period included Thomas Tallis and William Byrd."

Commentary 1: During the ruling Queen Elizabeth I, it was definitely a time of advancements in English history and literature. Elizabeth achieved the East India Trading Company and English explorers went through the Caribbean region and coasts of America. All the great achievements made during this time led it to it being the reason it is called the Golden Age. A notable writer in this era was William Shakespeare.

Quote 2: "During Elizabeth’s reign, she achieved a religious settlement that established a moderately Protestant Church of England as the country’s national church. She also long avoided war with Europe's leading Roman Catholic nations. Popular pleasures during the Elizabethan Age included archery, bowls (similar to bowling), and dancing. People liked music, and wealthy people were expected to play musical instruments on social occasions. The English also enjoyed dressing up for masques, pageants, and plays at Christmas and other special times. Elizabeth’s court became a center for musicians, scholars, and writers. Not everyone prospered during the Elizabethan Age. Strict rules regulated clothing, land ownership, marriage, and religion. In the latter half of Elizabeth’s reign, she actively persecuted Catholics. Some radical forms of Protestantism also were not tolerated. A number of people were executed for activity opposing the established church. By law, such action could be regarded as treason. In 1587, Elizabeth executed her cousin Mary Stuart, the former Catholic queen of Scotland. Mary had been the willing focus of several Catholic plots against Elizabeth.”

Commentary 2: In the Golden Age, Elizabeth established a religious settlement and church, which was the Protestant Church of England, and it was the country's church. The English were protestants, so by the end of Elizabeth's reign she persecuted and executed Catholics. Along with this, radical forms of Protestantism were not tolerated and people were executed for activities of opposing the established church. This would be regarded as treason. Elizabeth even executed her own former Catholic queen cousin, Mary, as she had been the focus of many plots against Elizabeth. There was also very strict rules in society, regulating clothing, ownership of land, marriage, and religion. The english enjoyed to dress up for masques and pageants and plays.

Quote 3: "The first public theater in England, called The Theater, was built near London in 1576. By 1642, there had been at least nine others in and around London, including the Globe, Rose, and Fortune."

Commentary 3: In the year 1576, the first public theater in England, built near London, was called The Theater. In 1642, there had been nine others built in, including the one Shakespeare was associated with, the Globe.

The Theatre 1576

Shakespeare’s Middle Years and Impact on Theater and Literature

Only portrait of Shakespeare that has a good claim to have been painted from life, and may be by a painter called John Taylor.

Quote 1: "After arriving in London, Shakespeare began an association with one of the city’s repertory theater companies. These companies consisted of a permanent cast of actors who presented a variety of plays week after week. The companies had aristocratic patrons, and the players were technically servants of the nobles who sponsored them. But the companies were commercial operations that depended on selling tickets to the general public for their income. Scholars do not know which of the various companies first employed Shakespeare. Scholars have noted connections between Shakespeare’s early plays and a number of plays that were performed by the Queen’s Men, a company that played in Stratford in 1587. What is certain is that by 1594 Shakespeare was a sharer in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. As a sharer, Shakespeare was a stockholder in the company and entitled to a share in the company’s profits.”

Commentary 1: Shakespeare's work in company theater's in London consisted of varieties of plays continuously over weeks done by the same permanent actors. There was aristocratic patrons, and players that were sponsored by nobles. It is not known of which companies Shakespeare was first employed by, but there is ties of his early plays and his plays performed by the Queen's Men, which was a Stratford company in 1587. It is definitely known that he was a sharer, a stockholder in the company entitled to profits, in the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

William Shakespeare and The Share-Holders

Quote 2: "The Lord Chamberlain’s Men were one of the most popular companies in London. In large part because of Shakespeare’s talents, they would go on to become the dominant company in England during the late 1500’s and early 1600’s. Shakespeare’s position as sharer allowed him to achieve a level of financial success unmatched by other dramatists of the age, many of whom lived in poverty. Most playwrights were free-lancers who were paid a one-time fee for their plays and usually worked for several companies. After 1594, Shakespeare maintained a relationship with a single company. Throughout the 1590’s, Shakespeare’s reputation continued to grow. From 1594 to 1608, he was fully involved in the London theater world. In addition to his duties as a sharer and actor in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, he wrote an average of almost two plays a year for his company. During much of this period, Shakespeare ranked as London’s most popular playwright, based on the number of times his plays were performed and published. But his reputation was largely that of a popular playwright, not of a writer of unequaled genius."

Commentary 2: Shakespeare was part of The Lord Chamberlain's Men, one of the most popular companies in London. They rose to be the dominant company in late 1500's because of Shakespeare's talents. Because of his role as a sharer, he achieved a high level of financial success compared to the other dramatists of that time. By the early 1600's, his reputation grew a lot and he was fully involved in the London theater world. Still a sharer and actor, he still wrote plays for his company yearly. He even ranked as London's most popular playwright because of the number of times his plays were performed and published.

Shakespeare before Sir Thomas Lucy in the hall of Charlecote.

Quote 3: "By the late 1590’s, Shakespeare not only had become an established writer but also had become prosperous. In October 1596, John Shakespeare was granted a coat of arms, an emblem symbolic of family history, about 25 years after his initial application. Most scholars have suggested that William Shakespeare renewed the application on his father’s behalf and paid the necessary fees. To have a coat of arms was an important mark of social standing in England at that time. Certainly Shakespeare was eager to establish himself in Stratford. In May 1597, he purchased New Place, one of the town’s two largest houses. Shakespeare obviously remained a Stratford man at heart in spite of his busy, successful life in London. Records of business dealings and of minor lawsuits reveal that he preferred to invest most of his money in Stratford rather than in London."

Commentary 3: In Shakespeare's middle years, he was an established writer and he really prospered. Like his father, Shakespeare renewed an application to have a coat of arms, a very important mark of social standing in England. He later established himself in Stratford, where he purchased New Place, one of the two largest houses at that time.

New Place, Stratford upon Avon

Quote 4: "In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and was succeeded by her cousin James VI of Scotland. As king of England, he became James I. James enjoyed and actively supported the theater. He issued a royal license to Shakespeare and his fellow players, which allowed the company to call itself the King’s Men. In return for the license, the actors entertained the king at court on a more or less regular basis."

Commentary 4: The new king of England, James I, enjoyed and very much supported theater works. He gave a royal license to Shakespeare and the cast and that led them to name the company the King's Men. The actors and Shakespeare himself entertained at the king's court on regular basis.

Quote 5: "The King’s Men achieved unequaled success and became London’s leading theatrical group. In 1608, the company leased the Blackfriars Theater for 21 years. The theater stood in a heavily populated London district called Blackfriars. The Blackfriars Theater had artificial lighting, mainly candles. The theater was probably heated and served as the company’s winter playhouse. The King’s Men performed at the Globe during the summer."

Commentary 5: The theater group known as the King's Men went on very successful and became known as the leading theater group in London. In 1608 the company leased the Blackfriars Theater for 21 years, and it was in the heavily populated area of Blackfriars.

Quote 6: The period from 1599 to 1608 was a time of extraordinary literary activity for Shakespeare. During these years, he wrote several comedies and almost all the tragedies that have made him famous. Shakespeare’s masterpieces during this period include the comedies Much Ado About Nothing and Twelfth Night; the history Henry V;and the tragedies Antony and Cleopatra, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, King Lear, Macbeth, and Othello."

Commentary 6: The time from 1599 to 1608 was the remarkable times of when Shakespeare's literature activity really got him noticed and prospered. In these times, he wrote many of the comedies and tragedies that he is known for today. These include Much About Nothing, Cleopatra, Hamlet, Julius Caesar.

Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet drawing
The Works of Shakespeare - Hamlet, the Play

The Globe Theater

Quote 1: "As was customary, Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, rented performance space. For most of the 1590’s, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed in a building called The Theatre. The English actor and thatrical manager James Burbage had built the structure on leased land. Burbage was the father of the famous actor Richard Burbage, star of the Chamberlain’s Men. After a disagreement with the landlord, the company was forced to find new accommodations. Richard Burbage and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men dismantled The Theatre and moved it across the River Thames to a new site in Southwark. There they used the old timbers to erect a new theater called the Globe Theater. The Globe could accommodate 3,000 spectators."

Commentary 1: The Lord Chamberlain's Men performed in rented space, in a building called The Theater. It was built on leased land. They were then forced to find a new place to continue their play works. The men dismantled the theater and moved it to a new site in Southwark. They created a new theater called the Globe Theater.

The Stage of the Globe

Quote 2: "Globe Theatre was an early open-air English theater in London. Most of the great English playwright William Shakespeare's plays were first presented at the Globe. The brothers Cuthbert and Richard Burbage constructed the theater in 1599 from the timbers of London's first playhouse, called The Theatre. They erected the Globe in the area known as the Bank side on the south side of the River Thames in the suburb of Southwark. Shakespeare owned a modest percentage of the theater and its operations."

Commentary 2: The Globe Theater was one of the early theater's in England. The plays of the great William Shakespeare were first presented here. The Globe was built from the timbers of London's first theater, The Theatre. The Globe was built in the are of Southwark. Shakespeare received a modest percentage of the income and operations of the theater.

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. 778-82.

Bumgardner, Jake. “Elizabethan Age.” http://www.worldbookonline.com/, www.worldbookonline.com/advanced/article?id=ar756160&st=elizabethan+era#tab=homepage. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.

Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” http://www.worldbookonline.com/, www.worldbookonline.com/advanced/article?id=ar504520#tab=homepage. Accessed 7 Dec. 2016.

Novick, Julius. “Drama.” http://www.worldbookonline.com/, www.worldbookonline.com/advanced/article?id=ar166220&st=elizabethan+era#tab=homepage. Accessed 8 Dec. 2016.

Seidel, Michael. “Globe Theater.” http://www.worldbookonline.com/, www.worldbookonline.com/advanced/a

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