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Welcome to the World of Shakespeare

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1 Welcome to the World of Shakespeare
Elizabethan Times and History of Theatre

2 Why do we still study Shakespeare’s work?

3 There is not one single answer to this question
There is not one single answer to this question. There are numerous reasons why English teachers still teach the works of this playwright in the 21st century.

4 However, some legitimate reasons are. . .
His work deals with universal themes that are relevant to human nature/existence regardless of time. His plays have stood the test of time better than any other dramatist; if we must study drama, then why not study the best? Shakespearian study allows us to study history through literature; rather than the dull listing of information in a text book, we can explore another era through immersing ourselves in the setting and becoming the characters. He created the basic plot structure that modern playwrights and novelists have adopted.

5 . . .and more significantly
Though the language is difficult at times, it is not impossible to understand. It forces readers and audiences to acquire reading comprehension strategies and critical thinking skills. These skills are necessary for the interpreting of any complex material and will benefit you in all other disciplines. Once these skills become automatic, you will be a better reader of all texts.

6 Elizabethan Theatre Elizabethan theatre developed from the concept of an inn being built around a courtyard. The guest rooms opened onto galleries (balconies) which looked down into the yard. A stage was built at one end. Spectators stood or sat in the yard. The more “respectable” spectators watched from the galleries (too rich / too good to sit with the common/poor citizens). Theatres were most often circular or octagonal in design. The stage jutted out into the yard; players (actors) were often surrounded by spectators on three sides.

7 . . .Theatre cont’d Performances were held in the afternoon because there was no electricity for lighting There was not often any real scenery, and only a few props. There was no general curtain concealing the whole stage, which meant, in order for a production to be coherent, scenes began with an entrance and ended with an exit. At the back of the stage, under the balcony, was an inner stage that was usually curtained off. It was used for indoor scenes (court, taverns, bedrooms, etc.). There could also be an upper stage, and sometimes even a third stage for musicians.

8 A view from the stage. . .

9 Outside the original Globe

10 A view from the yard (aka pit)

11 More “Globe” info (
The cheapest portion of the theatre was the yard that abuts onto the stage on three sides. It would have cost 1 penny for a place in the yard, and as such was affordable to almost everyone. The people who paid for such a place would tend to be the poorest playgoers, such as the city's common labourers. They were known as Groundlings and 1000 of them could be squeezed into the Globe's yard. They could usually expect to share that space with members of various professions such as thieves and prostitutes.

12 . . .cont’d The three galleries between them held another 2000 attendees. Unlike the yard, they, like the stage, were covered against the elements. They also had the added luxury of seating. For these benefits you would have had to pay 2 pennies, and could hire a cushion for a third. Although all three galleries cost the same to sit in, the middle gallery was considered the highest status. The lower gallery was still uncomfortably close to the yard, while the upper gallery had a reputation as a meeting place for unsavory business deals, and working ground for more of the local prostitutes.

13 . . . cont’d The most expensive seats in the house were those known as the Lords Rooms. They were located immediately above and behind the stage in the area also used by the musicians. Although such a location may not seem ideal to the modern day theatergoer, these seats had a number of key advantages to the rich of the day. Firstly, they were well removed from the masses in the rest of the theatre. Secondly, they were themselves on display, so they could show off the latest fashions and even the fact that they were rich enough to sit there. Thirdly, although they could not see the play very well, they could hear it. This last point is actually extremely significant, since it was to hear plays that Elizabethans went to the theatre; there are many references of people going to hear a play rather than going to see one in the literature of the time. It is from this concept that the modern word audience is derived. Places in the Lords Rooms would have cost 6 pennies each.

14 Shakespeare’s Globe: Beginnings
The Globe Theater was built in 1599 because Shakespeare needed a place to perform his plays. Cuthbert and Burbage built the Globe because their theater, called “The Theater,” was not very successful. In 1613, during a performance of Henry VIII, a cannon hit the Globe and set it on fire. About an hour after the cannon hit the Globe, it was gone. In June, 1614 the Globe was rebuilt better than before. In 1644 the theater was closed, along with all others, by the Puritans. The new Globe, now standing, was built in honour of Shakespeare. It is the third Globe.

15 The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (later called “The King’s Men”)
Though James and Richard Burbage of The Lord Chamberlain’s Men had money, there still wasn’t enough for comfortable living. Instead they came up with a novel idea; they would each own 25 % of the new playhouse while the rest of The Lord Chamberlain’s men would each chip in the remaining 50%. This, the Chamberlain’s men did. Shakespeare and the other four members of the acting troupe each owned a 12.5 % share when Will Kemp another member of the troupe, backed out. Sure enough the playhouse was completed, opening in Not only could the circular playhouse hold up to 3000 patrons, but it turned out to be a good investment, earning Shakespeare and his troupe money from both hiring out the playhouse and from ticket sales for their own performances there.

16 The Physical World 0f Romeo and Juliet
Set in Verona, Italy during the early Renaissance It is late July, a very hot time of year The influence of the prestigious and highly sophisticated families is evident in the play. Basically, the rich can even influence the law. The “formal codes” of society are real and present in the play. Verona is a city-state; there is a Prince, but no King. The small city-state creates a setting in which the feud between the Montagues and Capulets (two wealthy, influential families) will create social disorder. The “great families” rule the society. Thus, the marriage of their children is an economic exchange, shaping their society. Religion in the play is loosely based on Catholicism, represented by a Franciscan priest, Friar Laurence. However, he proves to be a man of both religion and natural science.

17 A little humor . . . What happened when Romeo monster met Juliet Monster? It was love at first fright!

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