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Theatre in the age of Shakespeare

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Introduction

Theatre in the age of Shakespeare Theatre was a very different business in the 16th and 17th century. London, the home of The Globe theatre was possibly the central hub of theatre in England at the time. The Lord Mayors hated plays because they took apprentices and workmen away from their jobs. Plays had to be performed in the daytime in the open-air theatres since there was no electrical lighting, or technical effects of any nature. Because of this they were labelled as "ungodly" and profane. Infact, the mayors of London tried to have plays banned! luckily for us, they were protected by the privy council on the grounds that the Queen enjoyed the entertainment at Christmas. The Lord chamberlain set up 2 new companies in 1594, one of which Shakespeare joined as an actor. In time this company became the richest of companies and ran continuously for forty eight years. ...read more.

Middle

Sketches and prints of the interior and exterior of the Globe survive today. For fourteen years, Shakespeare's company prospered in "the house with the thatched roof" until disaster struck in 1613. While performing Henry VII, a piece of wadding from a stage cannon lodged in the rood, smouldering until the thatch burst into flamed and eventually burning The Globe to the ground. As many as three thousand audience members vacated the building safely from two exits. The second globe was much more lavish than the first and had a tiled roof which was more difficult to burn! Due to money problems, a deal was forged with other players, Shakespeare being one of four syndicates. They were sold shares in the building which ensured its economic safety in the future. It was here that Shakespeare wrote his greatest plays. The popularity and educational aspect of Shakespeare's plays leads to their frequent performance in schools and colleges all over the world. ...read more.

Conclusion

However, less privileged audience members. Apprentices, shopkeepers, labourers and students were free between 2 and 5 o'clock. One must remember that at entertainment came from few sources, and with no modern technology, people had to create their own entertainment. Acting and the theatre did this well but also made the audiences think. The existence of these plays, to carry the audience through space and time suggests that Shakespeare needed and expected neither intervals, nor any music beyond a few bars when a character entered. It is unlikely that he received any more than he needed or wanted. When a change of scene or time mattered had to be conveyed to the audience, the actors simply told them in their first few lines. Not every Elizabethan play achieved the seamless unity of Shakespeare's work, nor did Shakespeare, but essentially one must keep perspective that this is the birth of modern theatre in England, as we know it. Despite Shakespeare's death, the age of Shakespeare lives on today. ...read more.

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