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“The Shakespearean Theatrical World” from

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1 “The Shakespearean Theatrical World” from
The Complete Pelican Shakespeare (xliii-xlv)

2 Economic realities in Shakespeare’s World
For centuries, theatre activity in England had been nonprofessional Craft guilds provided religious drama These mystery plays were celebrations of religious and civic festivals Performed in Latin, these forms were established and socially acceptable

3 Professional Theatre Existed on the margins of society
Companies toured Actors were not held in high esteem Professional Theatre began to gain respectability in the mid 16th century when wealthy aristocrats began to support acting companies Lord Admiral’s Men Lord Chamberlain’s Men

4 Permanent Theatre were built beginning with the Red Lion in 1567

5 Others followed The Theatre – 1576 The Rose – 1587 The Swan – 1596  The Globe – 1599 The Fortune The Second Globe

6 Remains of the Rose Small thrust stage that tapered into pit
Stage was 25 feet wide in front 36 feet at the back 16 ½ feet deep Owned by Philip Henslowe, it was “improved” in Stage was enlarged and seating increased

7 A typical English playhouse as seen in Shakespeare’s day

8 Theatres were half full on most performance days
Population in London ( ) estimated between 150,000 and 250,000 Almost a tenth of the population attended the theatres Repertories changed often. In the month between Sept 15 and Oct 15, 1595, the Lord Admiral’s Men played 28 performances of 18 different plays

9 Public playhouses operated in daylight (Noon to 3)
Bill included a play followed by a dance, fencing display or other nondramatic exhibition Performances were played every day except during Lent or periods of plague, when the theatres were closed


11 Modern Globe was constructed based upon research of the period



14 Audiences Magic and violence were popular. Special effects were developed using pig bladders, winches, cannons, fireworks and musicians. From and , Public playhouses competed with private playhouses like those at court.

15 Companies Professional companies at court made use of boy companies. In the outdoor theatres, the actors were adult men and boys…no women actors during Shakespeare’s lifetime. Outdoor theatres seated , the indoor spaces on Private theatres charged higher prices. Musical entertainments were performed between “acts” in the private theatres.

16 Shakespeare wrote for the Lord Chamberlain’s Men (Later the King’s Men)
Distinctions between public and privates changed by the end of the 1610s Actors continued to be considered as vagabonds unless connected to the patronage of an aristocrat or member of the royal family

17 A joint-stock company Shakespeare and his fellow company members made a good living at the height of their popularity and their royal patronage helped lend them credibility. Still public officials considered the theatres a nuisance because the drew rowdy crowds, they were noisy, attracted pickpockets and whores, etc.

18 Public entertainments
Until the Civil War ( ) anti-theatrical forces failed to shut down the theatres. The theatre remained popular during Shakespeare’s most prolific days. The prevalence of public entertainments in the period “has been underestimated. Fairs, holidays, games, sporting events all were popular, but the theatre was most popular.

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