Term Paper: Elizabethan Theater Elizabethan Theatre

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[. . .] Around the pit consisted of three galleries, and it was one above the other, the topmost of which was roofed with thatch. (Costumes and Sets in Shakespeare's Theater)

If one was to return back in time and attend a play in Elizabethan theatre, one might immediately witness many attributes of the theatre's interior that would appear to be strange. The first variation witnessed upon entering the theatre was the arrangement of the stage, a large platform surrounded by the audience on three sides. This close nearness of the audience to stage yielded a more interactive relationship between the actors and the audience. Unlike most of the present day audiences, the people visiting Elizabethan theatre were associated in the play, shouting suggestions, encouragement, or curses to the actors. When the audience did not like a character, they even fling rotten fruit at the actors to represent their discontentment. (Welcome to the world of the Elizabethan theatre!)

Most theatres were multilateral or round structures. Shakespeare regards the theatre a 'wooden O' along with three galleries; the yard is open roofed one. From one side a raised stage or open platform expanded into the middle. A form of wooden awning projected over the stage and in some theatres rested on two pillars; these pillars could conveniently serve as a hiding place for an actor appeared to be unseen by the other characters. At the end of the stage there sometimes was a covered alcove or booth, that when unwrapped might be taken as a room or a cave. The curtain is sometimes called an arras, and it was possibly behind this curtain that Polonius veil, only to be stabbed. At the back of the stage there were probably two or three doors, through which entrances and exits were made. (Glossary of Terms)

Possibly the tiring house was behind the rear of the stage. At the top of the alcove or booth was a space that could be utilized for an upper stage; flanking the upper stage were windows, one of that may have provided Juliet for her misnamed balcony scene. Some scholars advocated that in a higher place were musicians, and at the very top- called the top- was an opening from which an actor could notice, in Henry VI, Part I, Joan of Arc come out on the top, thrusting out a torch burning. The acting was primarily made on the main stage, but the inner stage, upper stage, windows, and top must have been utilized infrequently. The cellar under the stage was utilized to illustrate for the voice of the ghost in Hamlet, and for Ophelia's grave. Though some scenery was utilized the absence of a front curtain led to many detailed scenic influences and encouraged non-stop action. The stage which was a battlefield could by the help of a throne, become a room in a palace. (Glossary of Terms)

Another attribute of the Elizabethan theatre that might have seemed odd was the tiring house, a space behind the stage that is similar to the present day backstage field of a theatre. The tiring-house was utilized as dressing rooms by the actors. Entrances and way outs were also consisted of doors approaching to the tiring house. Actors could also enter the action from the masked discovery space at the end of the stage. By drawing the curtains the actors could represent the characters those were snooping on the conversations of the characters on stage. The Elizabethan stage also incorporated a small roof projecting over a portion of the back part of the main stage those were topped by a hut. This structure was also recognized as the universe and consisted of the machinery essential to generate sound effects or to lower angels and gods down to the stage. Gods, angels, and other characters could also come out in the gallery that hung over the back of the main stage. This gallery was sometimes applied as a castle wall or a balcony. However, 'ghosts' and 'demons' must also be entailed for and so the stage was equipped with a trapdoor taking to a 'Hell' behind the stage. The trapdoor was also applied as a grave in performance of theatrical funerals. (Welcome to the world of the Elizabethan theatre!)

The wealth and social status influenced the seating arrangements in the Elizabethan theatre. A penny was paid by everybody for entry, but a supplementary fee is charged that enabled one to sit in one of the galleries, safeguarded from the elements. The rich patrons of the theatre were the most likely to be able to pay this fee and normally filled those seats. The poor members of the audience, or groundlings stood in the courtyard around the stage. Sporadically, the noble guests of the theatre were offered seats of honor at the edge of the stage also. (Welcome to the world of the Elizabethan theatre!) The pervasive building proper was unavailable with tiers of galleries, normally two or three in number entailed with seats and here of course, sat the people of means, the women deterring from embarrassment and annoyance only by being always covered.

Beneath the unraveled front portion of the stage the middle part was wrapped by a lean-to-roof sloping down from the rear wall of the building and supported by two pillars erected on the stage. This roof is hidden a loft, from which mechanical devices work out to lift down the gods and goddesses or any appropriate attributes. Even farther back, under the galleries, was the 'rear-stage' that could be applied to include inner rooms; and that part of the lower gallery immediately above it was normally appropriated as a part of the stage representing such places as city walls or the second stories of houses. The musicians place was also just along side of the gallery. (An Elizabethan Stage from Chapter VI. The Drama from about 1550 to 1642)

The stage thus was a platform stage witnessed by the audience from all sides not like the one of our time, a 'picture stage', with its scenes witnessed through only a single large outlet. Such an arrangement did not make possible any front curtain, even though a curtain was usually hung from the floor of the gallery before the rear stage. Therefore, the variations between scenes must normally be made in full view of the audience, and rather than terminating the scenes with significant situations the dramatists must arrange for a withdrawal of the actors, only avoiding possibly the impact of a mere anti-climax. Dead bodies must either contract up and walk away in plain sight or be carried off, either by stage hands, or, as part of the action, by other characters in the play. The subsequent tool was some times deployed at significant violence to probability as while Shakespeare makes Falstaff bear away Hotspur and Hamlet, Polonius. (An Elizabethan Stage from Chapter VI. The Drama from about 1550 to 1642)

Similarly, while the middle-age tradition of detailed costuming was continued, there was every reason for sticking to the medieval simplicity of scenery. A single potted plant may signify a forest, and houses and caverns with much of the same can be conveniently being left to the audience for imagination. In no respect, however, was actuality of setting a significant concern of either dramatist or audience; in several instances, evidently, neither of them heeded to think of a scene as situated in any exact location, hence the anxious effort of Shakespeare's editors on this point is beside the mark. This detachment made for easy shift from one place to another, and the entire simplicity of staging had the significant benefit of permitting the audience to focus their concentration on the play instead of the accompaniments.

But behind the curtain on the rear-stage more elaborate scenery might be placed and Elizabethan plays, like those of our own day, seem at times to have 'alternation scenes', inclined to be acted upon in front, while in the next background was being ready beneath the balcony curtain. The deficiency of detailed settings also facilitated quickness of the actions and the performance of the play at the initial stages at 3 pm, normally scheduled to be over by the diner hour after five hours. Even less satisfactory was the complete absence of women-actors, who till after the Restoration of 1660 did not appear on the public stage. The insufficiency of the boys who obtained the part of the women-characters is alluded to by Shakespeare and must have been resulted in fatigue to any dramatist who was attempting to fetch a delicate or complex heroine. (An Elizabethan Stage from Chapter VI. The Drama from about 1550 to 1642)

The chorus in Elizabethan Drama was derived from Greek drama. In Greek drama the chorus in Elizabethan Drama, who mention on the performance in choral odes isolating the play's episodes, sometimes forecasting or interpreting, so the audience realizes more than the characters within the play. (Romeo & Juliet: The Contemporary Film, the Classic Play)… [END OF PREVIEW]

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