SHAKESPEARE &ELIZABETHANTHEATREProfessor Will AdamsValencia CollegeFall 2011
CHILDHOOD Born in Stratford-upon-Avon Son of a glove-maker Grammar school education (6 AM – 6 PM) boys studied Latin: Cicero, Virgil, Ovid, and Seneca Developed a vocabulary more than 50,000 words His writing reveals a knowledge of a wide variety of subjects: Music, law, seamanship, the Bible, military science, the stage art, politics, history, psychology, hunting, woodcraft, animal husbandry, and sports
ADULTHOOD At 18 he married Ann Hathaway who was 26. Lord Chamberlain’s Men In 1592 and 1594, the theatres of London were closed by the plague. He wrote poetry; considered himself a better poet than playwright. His works have been translated into more languages than any book other than the Bible
WILL IN THE WORLD By the late 1580‟s, he was in London The city was a hotbed of political intrigue London was, at the time, the site of the most potent literary and political era in English history
MEDIEVAL THEATRE Initially, theatre began as an acting out of „dramas‟ in religious scripture These religious performances recreated events such as the Resurrection and the 3 Marys coming to seek the body of Christ
MEDIEVAL THEATRE EVOLVES Into „mystery‟ plays, telling Into „morality‟ plays, where the cycle of creation history characters like Everyman and performed by members interact with other allegorical of guilds each year, often on figures and learn moral and religious holidays, on spiritual lessons, often „pageant wagon‟ sets pulled performed by clerks & throughout the streets or in eventually professional churchyards. actors in halls, innyards, and other public spaces
THE MEDIEVAL THEATRE Thrived on stereotypical characters called „vices‟ and „virtues‟ Did not know about Classical, 5-act Greek theatre Was overtly moral, to avoid church & community censure Was suspect because actors moved from place to place, counterfeited other people‟s identities, and didn‟t have „estates‟
THE EARLY MODERN THEATRE True, modern theatre as we know it today begins in London, under the reign of Queen Elizabeth I The first modern theatre space was constructed on the southern bank of the River Thames in 1595, and was christened the Swan Theatre The image on the right shows the Swan as it looked in 1616
SHAKESPEARE & LANGUAGE English Critical language Disgraceful was rapidly Dishearten growing; new Distrustful words and phrases Dwindle Eventful No dictionaries Exposure or grammar Fretful books Gloomy Will coined Lonely many words Misplaced himself: Recall Assassinatio n Monumental Courtship Suspicious Critic
SHAKESPEARE THE PLAYWRIGHT Wrote a total of 36 plays Known for having written: Histories: Henry IV Comedies: Much Ado About Nothing Tragedies: Hamlet, King Lear, Romeo & Juliet He borrowed most of his plots from other sources and wasn‟t always faithful to historical accuracy
HIS AUDIENCES Audiences were enthralled by language An auditory – not visual – audience. Those who could pay more sat in the seats surrounding the stage. The poorer crowd stood as “groundings” and paid a penny for admittance. All social classes, attended the plays Playwrights had the challenge of keeping everyone entertained.
ACTIVE AUDIENCES Shakespeare’s audiences were active throughout the performances The actors addressed the audience, and members of the audience often spoke back Norrie Epstein claims that “the average Elizabethan yelled, hooted, snacked, and chatted.”
ENVIRONMENTHistory suggests that play going was most likely a smelly experienceThere were no bathroomsPeople relieved themselves insidePeople rarely bathed
THE THEATRE Awnings covered the stage and gallery seats Not in the city of London, but on the south bank of the Thames In 1574 public plays banished from the city by an ordinance for “corruptions of the youth and other enormities” (opportunities for prostitutes and thieves)
HOW WIDESPREAD WAS ACCESS TOTHEATERS? Around 1600, when both the Swan and the Globe were full on summer days, the total capacity of London theaters was about 5,000 spectators. The population of London was about 100,000 London‟s total daily theater capacity exceeded 10,000 after 1610; the population may have been as much as 200,000 then. In 1600, London citizens could purchase admittance to the Swan or the Globe for a penny So theater attendance was still affordable to almost all of London
THE PERFORMANCES Performances took place between two and five in the afternoon Advertising of plays was prohibited A raised flag and a trumpet fanfare announced the beginning of the performance A black flag meant tragedy, a white flag, a comedy; and a red flag, history
THE REPERTORY SYSTEM: HOW SUPPLYMET DEMAND The acting companies functioned on a repertory system; unlike modern productions, the companies of this era rarely performed the same play for 2 days in a row. And they didn‟t have teleprompters. In the 1592 season of Lord Stranges Men, between Feb. 19 and June 23, the company played six days a week, minus Good Friday and two other days. They never played the same play two days in a row, and rarely the same play twice in a week. They performed 23 different plays, some only once, and their most popular play of the season, The First Part of Hieronimo,15 times. Thomas Middletons A Game at Chess ran for nine straight performances in August 1624 before it was closed by the authorities - but this was due to the political content of the play and was a unique occurrence.
THE PERFORMANCES Vendors sold beer, water, oranges, nuts, gingerbread, and apples Up to 30 plays were performed in 1 season Customarily, the program changed daily.
COULD YOU MAKE A LIVING AS APLAYWRIGHT? Theatre owner Philip Henslowe paid as little as £6 or £7 per play during the Globe‟s heyday Most plays were written collaboratively Shakespeare produced fewer than 40 solo plays in a career that spanned more than two decades He was financially successful because he was a shareholder in the company for which he acted and in the theatres they used and invested his earnings in real estate. He also collaborated on plays. Few plays were printed because the acting companies held onto them so they would continue to be profitable to perform; estimates say a little over 600 plays were published in the period as a whole
THE GLOBE THEATRE In 1599, Shakespeare‟s company, the Lord Chamberlain‟s Men, opened the Globe Theatre The Globe Theatre was built by a carpenter called Peter Smith together with his workforce. They started building in 1597 and it was finished in 1598. Its nickname was the “Wooden O” Fire broke out at the original Globe Theatre on June 29, 1613 The Second Globe Theatre was built shortly after in 1614
Doors on either side of the stage led backstage to the ‘tiring rooms’The “Pit”, (dressingwhere rooms)“groundlings”watched for apenny The trapdoor or “hell”, The “discovery space,” where actors could make which could be curtained This is called an ‘apron surprise entrances off stage’ or ‘proscenium’
With the threelevels of coveredgalleries and thegroundlings inthe pit, theseating at theoriginal Globe isestimated ataround 2500 -3000 people.
Spectators couldalso be seated inthe galleries abovethe stage; thesewere consideredvery choice seats.By the way, all thecolumns are woodpainted to look likemarble.
As the pitbegins to fillup before theperformance,the actors andaudience couldinteract.This is aperformanceof JuliusCaesar.
The ceiling underthe stage cover iscalled the “heavens”and couldaccommodatepulleys and otherstage effects.
From the “hut”above the stage,other specialeffects could beusedA cannon shotoff from hereduring aperformance ofHenry VIII in1613 burneddown theoriginal Globe.Oops.
PRIVATE, INDOOR PUBLICTHEATERS Indoor theaters allowed all- weather performances year- round Often in old religious buildings which were “liberties” in zoning terms Shakespeare‟s company leased the Blackfriars Great Hall in 1608 The Kings Men "gott. . .more in one Winter in the said great Hall by a thousand powndes than they were used to gett in the Banckside."