More coursework: 1 - A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I - J | K - L | M | N - O | P - S | T | U - Y

Shakespeare and his theater 2

Shakespeare and his Theater

Compared to the technical theaters of today, the London

public theaters in the time of Queen Elizabeth I seem to be

terribly limited. The plays had to be performed during daylight

hours only and the stage scenery had to be kept very simple with

just a table, a chair, a throne, and maybe a tree to symbolize a

forest. Many say that these limitations were in a sense

advantages. What the theater today can show for us

realistically, with massive scenery and electric lighting,

Elizabethan playgoers had to imagine. This made the playwright

have to write in a vivid language so the audience could

understand the play. Not having a lighting technician to work

the control panels, Shakespeare had to indicate wether it was

dawn or nightfall by using a speech rich in metaphors and

descriptive details. Shakespeare's theater was far from being

bare, the playwright did have some valuable technical sources

that he used to the best of his ability. The costumes the actors

wore were made to be very elaborate. Many of the costumes

conveyed recognizable meanings for the audience such as a rich

aristocrat wearing silk clothes with many ruffles. Many times

there were musical accompaniments and sound effects such as

gunpowder explosions and the beating of a pan to simulate


The stage itself was also remarkably versatile. Behind it

were doors for exits and entrances and a curtained booth or

alcove useful for actors to hide inside. Above the stage was a

higher acting area which symbolized a porch or balcony. This was

useful in the story of Romeo and Juliet, when Romeo stood below

Juliet and told her how he loved her. In the stage floor was a

trap door which was said to lead to "hell" or a cellar, this was

especially useful for ghosts or devils who had to appear and

disappear throughout the play. The stage itself was shaped in a

rectangular platform that projected into a yard that was enclosed

by three story galleries.

The building was round or octagonal in shape but Shakespeare

called it a "wooden O." The audience sat in these galleries or

else they could stand in the yard in front the stage. A roof and

awning protected the stage and the high-priced gallery seats, but

in the case bad weather, the "groundlings," who only paid a penny

to stand in the yard, must have gotten wet.

The Globe theater was built by a theatrical company in which

Shakespeare belonged. The Globe theater, was the most popular of

all the Elizabethan theaters, it was not in the city itself but

on the south bank of the Thames River. This location had been

chosen because, in 1574, public plays had been banished from the

city by an ordinance that blamed them for corrupting the youth

and promoting prostitution.

A playwright had to please all members of the audience.

This explains the wide range of topics in Elizabethan plays.

Many plays included passages of subtle poetry, of deep

philosophy, and scenes of terrible violence. Shakespeare was an

actor as well as a playwright, so he new well what his audience

wanted to see. The company's offered as many as thirty plays a

season, customarily changing the programs daily. The actors thus

had to hold many parts in their heads, which may account for

Elizabethan playwrights' blank verse writing style.

Source: Essay UK -

About this resource

This coursework was submitted to us by a student in order to help you with your studies.

Search our content:

  • Download this page
  • Print this page
  • Search again

  • Word count:

    This page has approximately words.



    If you use part of this page in your own work, you need to provide a citation, as follows:

    Essay UK, Shakespeare And His Theater 2. Available from: <> [28-05-20].

    More information:

    If you are the original author of this content and no longer wish to have it published on our website then please click on the link below to request removal: