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Shakespeare and Renaissance Theater Notes PP. 366375


Guilds presented plays on the backs of traveling wagons, usually in a sequence ... fantastical elements such as fairies and magical spells (Midsummer Night's Dream) ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Shakespeare and Renaissance Theater Notes PP. 366375

Shakespeare and RenaissanceTheater NotesPP.
Holy Days
  • People would gather in public places such as
    village greens, innyards, and marketplaces to
  • Guilds presented plays on the backs of traveling
    wagons, usually in a sequence to tell a complete
    story miracle plays (lives of saints), mystery
    plays (Bible stories), and morality plays (vices
    and virtues are characters) were commonly
  • Eventually, plays were performed in halls and
    houses of great noblemen and noblewomen

Five-Act Play
  • Common format used in Roman and Greek
    plays-revived during the Renaissance with English
    topics and themes
  • Act I-Introduction
  • Act II-Complication/Rising Action
  • Act III-Crisis/Turning Point
  • Act IV-Falling Action
  • Act V-Resolution/Catastrophe/Denouement
  • Acts were divided into scenes marked by
    characters entering and exiting the stage

Types of Drama
  • Comedies-end with happy results, typically
    lighthearted, action moves from order to humorous
    misunderstanding (mistaken identity, puns, word
    play) and back to order again
  • Tragedies-end with tragic results, tells the
    story of he downfall of a person of high status,
    celebrates the courage and dignity of a flawed
    protagonist in the face of inevitable doom (Ex
    Macbeth-protagonist has excessive ambition and
    doesnt want to appear weak or unmanly)

Types of Drama, contd
  • Histories- plays about significant events from
    the past (Ex Henry VIII by Shakespeare
  • Romances- plays containing highly fantastical
    elements such as fairies and magical spells
    (Midsummer Nights Dream)
  • Interludes-short plays
  • Masques-elaborate performances featuring acting,
    music, and dance

Theater controversy during the Renaissance
  • Theaters were looked at as low-rent, trashy
    places to go, mainly because groundling audiences
    were filled with miscreants and undesirables
    looking to pick pockets, pillage women, or worse
  • Theaters brought large crowds together, which
    continued the spread of the plague and introduced
    and supported controversial ideas counteractive
    against the monarchy and /or Parliament
  • Theaters closed many times throughout the
    Renaissance because of plague, political unrest,

Controversial theater, contd
  • Women were not allowed to perform as actors on
    stage, so men and boys performed women's roles
  • It was rumored that Queen Elizabeth used to dress
    as a man and attend performances unknown
    Elizabeth supported the theater and had two of
    her own acting groups she sponsored
  • Freelance actors could be arrested and cruelly
    punished during this time, unless they were under
    the aegis of a nobleman or noblewoman who would
    support the group in exchange for credit for the
    groups success

Theater notables
  • James Burbage (1576) Built The Theater
    outside the city of London so authorities could
    not control the activities there Burbages group
    later tore down The Theater and built the Globe
    Theater with boards and materials from The
    Theater Shakespeare became a shareholder in the
    Globe at this time

The Globe
  • Octagonal ( eight-sided building)
  • Open to the sky except for the thatched roof
    covering the walls and part of the stage
  • The stage jutted into the middle of the open
    floor, and poor audience members (groundlings)
    could pay a penny to stand around the stage to
    watch a performance
  • Wealthier people could pay more to sit on benches
    inside one of the three tiers of balconies that
    lined around the edges of the theater the better
    the view, the pricier the seats

The Globe, contd
  • A cannon shot during Shakespeares Henry VIII
    ignited a fire that burned the Globe to the
  • Daytime performances due to little or no
    artificial lighting
  • Very little to no scenery, and very few props,
    which is why Shakespeare includes so much
    description in his work the audience must know,
    in great detail, what he or she is to be
    imagining during a performance in the way of time
    of day, weather, sounds, smells, sights, etc.
  • Do not worry about the physical appearance of the
    theater described on p. 370. I will explain as I
    refer to the theater

Renaissance audience
  • Audience was made up of a mixture of all levels
    of society. A heterogeneous group attended made
    up of noble lords and ladies, members of
    Parliament, middle class merchants, lower class
    laborers, along with pickpockets and thieves
    looking to get what they could when people
    standing on the ground were not paying attention
  • The Globe seated roughly 2,500 people during one

  • We only know of and credit Marlowe for using (not
    creating) and perfecting the form of blank verse
    (unrhymed iambic pentameter) his blank verse is
    described as lofty and heroic while havingthe
    grace and naturalness of ordinary speech.
    Because of Marlowes use and popularization of
    blank verse, Shakespeare and other Renaissance
    writers begin to use it in abundance.

  • Begins in theater with Richard Burbage, Jamess
    son-group name the Lord Chamberlains Men
  • Globe Theater built after The Theater is torn
    down Shakespeare was part owner and principal
    playwright of The Globe Shakespeares group also
    performed many plays at Queen Elizabeths court
    during this time
  • Blackfriars built in 1603 for winter performances
    and Shakespeares company becomes official
    servants of King James I, a.k.a The Kings Men

Shakespeare, contd
  • Shakespeare finally retires and returns to
    Stratford he dies on his birthday (April 23) in
  • 1623-Shakespeares works collected and published
    in the First Folio
  • Shakespeares popularity as a playwright
    attributed to how complex and human his
    characters are remember that until the latter
    part of the Renaissance, all characters were very
    flat and representative of only one or two
    aspects of human emotion Shakespeares were the
    first who represented true humans with many
    emotions and possibilities as characters, a
    wildly popular creation for the Renaissance

  • Evaluate every character for his or her level of
    ambition in life
  • Also pay attention to the many dualities in the
    play (What is a duality? Something that exists
    in comparison or opposition to something else.
  • Dualities to consider
  • Macbeth and Lady Macbeth
  • Macbeth and Banquo
  • Macbeth and Duncan (good vs evil king)
  • Kingship vs tyranny
  • Cruelty vs. masculinity
  • Unchecked ambition
  • Banquo as ally vs. Banquo as threat
  • Macbeth as soldier vs Macbeth as king
  • Play begins and ends with battle (bookended)

Macbeth contd
  • Consider the various forms of manipulation that
    takes place in the play
  • Lady Macbeth of Macbeth
  • The three witches of various characters
  • And others