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The Shakespearen theatre

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Introduction

THE SHAKESPEAREN THEATRE The plays of Shakespeare during his lifetime were performed on stages in private theatres, provincial theatres, and playhouses. His plays were acted out in the yards of bawdy inns and the great halls of the London Inns of Court. Today we are going to talk about one of the most well known of all the renaissance stages associated with Shakespeare. But first a brief introduction to some of the other Elizabethan theatres to provide a more complete picture of the world in which Shakespeare lived and worked. The Theatre The Theatre was the first London playhouse, built in 1576 by the English actor and entrepreneur James Burbage, father of the great actor Richard Burbage and friend of Shakespeare. Located in a northern suburb of London, it was a vast, polygonal, three story timber structure, open to the sun and rain. Its exterior was coated with lime and plaster. It had features such as galleries, upper rooms, a tiring house, and trap doors in the stage floor. The theatre had two external staircases, standing on either side of the building, and leading up to the galleries. Those people, who watched from the main "yard" surrounded by the comfortable covered galleries, were forced to stand during the entire performance. The theatre was home to many acting companies, but was used primarily by Shakespeare's acting troupe, the chamberlain's men, after 1594. ...read more.

Middle

Rising from behind the stages was the tiring house, the three story section of the playhouse that contained the dressing rooms, the prop room, the musician's gallery and connecting passageways. The tiring house was enclosed in curtains at all times so the less dramatic elements of play production would be hidden from the audience. Two doors on either side of the tiring house allowed the actors entrance onto the stage. Sometimes an actor would come through the "middle door' which really referred to the main floor curtains of the tiring house that led directly on the centre stage. The three levels of the tiring house were each very different. The first level was essentially the inner stage when one was needed. Many times Shakespeare's plays call for a scene within a scene, such as Miranda and Ferdinand playing chess as a back drop to the main scene in the Tempest; or a scene in which a character or item needs to be dramatically revealed, as we find in the Merchant of Venice, when Portia asks Nerissa to "draw aside the curtains" to show the caskets; or a scene that should take place in a small confining space, such as the Capulet's tomb in Romeo and Juliet. For scenes such as these the actors would have pulled back the curtains on the outer stage to expose the tiring house as the inner stage. ...read more.

Conclusion

It is no coincidence that in all of Shakespeare's plays, the scene, no matter how dramatic or climatic, ends on a denumount, with the actors walking off or being carried of the stage. If the play required a change of place in the next scene, most times the actors would not leave the stage at all, and it would be up to the audience to imagine the change had occurred. If props were used, they were usually placed at the beginning of the play, and often times would be unnecessary as the performance went on, but would remain on the stage regardless. For very large objects that were vital in one scene but became an obstacle in the next scene, it is most likely that the action was halted for their prompt removal. Due to lack of props and scenery, the acting troupes relied very heavily on costumes. Even though Elizabethan audiences were deprived of eye catching background scenes, they were never disappointed with the extravagant, breathtaking clothes that were a certainty at every performance. The original globe was built for William Shakespeare's company of players on the south bank of Thomas in 1599, during the reign of Elizabeth 1. it was an immediate success and soon became the most popular playhouse in London. The new globe has risen again only a few hundred yards from the original site. It is a meticulous reconstruction of the first globe, the result of 30 years work inspired by the tireless enthusiasm and vision of the late Sam Wanamaker. ...read more.

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