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Background Information WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND ELIZABETHAN DRAMA.

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Presentation on theme: "Background Information WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND ELIZABETHAN DRAMA."— Presentation transcript:

1 Background Information WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE AND ELIZABETHAN DRAMA

2 1. BRIEFLY DESCRIBE THE MAJOR ELEMENTS OF ELIZABETHAN DRAMA. Queen Elizabeth (1533-1603) – patron of the arts Influenced by Greek Drama, but had more varied themes (like whatever the patrons were into!) Written in verse There were few props or backdrops to show location Smaller scale than Greek theater – the Globe could fit 3,000

3 THE ELIZABETHAN TIMES England was a small nation by modern standards (pop. of 5 million) It was a proud nation, and had a strong sense of national identity Overseas exploration and empire expansion began (Drake circumnavigated the world from 1577-1581) England was rural; agriculture was the chief means of livelihood; mining and timber were expanding industries

4 ELIZABETHAN TIMES Travel within England was slow because of poor roads, and dangerous because of highway robbers The English Renaissance was in full bloom; arts and sciences flourished Increased contact with other nations led to new styles of living, new fashions, new art forms (the sonnet), a broader vocabulary (which Shakespeare eagerly appropriated) New domestic comforts: Chimneys, metal dishes, beds and pillows, carpets, windows

5 ELIZABETHAN LONDON London had trees, gardens and meadows London Bridge was a fashionable thoroughfare with shops festively decorated for certain occasions. Other decorations on the bridge included the heads of executed traitors City houses were small and crowded, the streets were narrow and filthy (as a result there were epidemics and plagues)

6 AT A TYPICAL ELIZABETHAN PRODUCTION: It was always daytime Actors were always men The audience went to theaters located in the “red light district” Commoners (or groundlings) had to stand, while VIPs got to sit on the balcony of the circular theater The audience was active, often showing displeasure by throwing things at the actors

7 A TYPICAL ELIZABETHAN THEATER

8 THE GLOBE “THE WOODEN O” 20-sided, open-air amphitheater Built in 1599 by the Burbage brothers to present Shakespeare's work Thirty-four plays were created for performance here Built to hold about 2,000, but often the number went up to 3,000 Plays were presented in the afternoon (there was no electricity and the plays required light) The stage was 49 feet across and 27 feet deep, and only 5 feet from the floor of the yard; this made the actors accessible (and easy to hit with produce)

9 THE GLOBE, “THE WOODEN O” There were no major props or sets – a black drape across the stage suggested a tragedy, a torch suggested evening, etc. There was a trapdoor for “ghost” appearances There was a balcony on the back wall The roof of the stage was called “the sky” and was painted as such Commoners usually came to the Globe by foot – dignitaries came by boat from across the river

10 GLOBE WOES The Wooden O burned to the ground in 1613 It was rebuilt, but the Puritans closed it (and other theaters) down in 1642 because the theater was drawing a bigger crowd than the church The Puritans made theaters illegal and the Globe was torn down in 1644 The New Globe, opened in 1997 by Queen Elizabeth, is less than 200 yards from the original site

11 2. HOW MANY PLAYS DID SHAKESPEARE WRITE? (PLUS SOME OTHER INFO.) Born April 23, 1564 Hometown: Stratford-upon-Avon, England Also known as William Saxberd, W. Shagspere Married Anne Hathaway on November 28, 1582, one day after he obtained a marriage license to marry someone else! Missing years: We have almost no information about the next 10 years of his life, except that he must have somehow traveled to London

12 SHAKESPEARE INFO In 1592 his first play, Henry VI, debuted Over the next 21 years, Shakespeare wrote another 36 full- length plays He also wrote 150 sonnets The acting troupe called Lord Chamberlain’s Men produced and performed W’s plays; when James I became king in 1603, they changed their name to The King’s Men After the Globe burned to the ground, Shakespeare never wrote again

13 MORE SHAKESPEARE INFORMATION After a night of heavy drinking and a walk home in the rain, Shakespeare died in Stratford, on April 23, 1616. It was his 52 nd birthday His plays were never published in his lifetime. After his death, Shakespeare’s closest friends published his works in a single volume called The First Folio “He was not for an age, but for all time” – Ben Johnson, playwright and friend of WS


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