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Elizabethan Drama Revision


Elizabethan Drama Revision Audience/Actor Relationship The main action took place on the main stage and, because it was surrounded on three sides by the audience, the ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Elizabethan Drama Revision

Elizabethan DramaRevision
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Audience/Actor Relationship
  • The main action took place on the main stage and,
    because it was surrounded on three sides by the
    audience, the thrust stage made for an intimacy
    we do not get today on the conventional stage
    with a proscenium arch.
  • The actors had to play to the audience all three
    sides. Shakespeare's writing is indicative of
    this e.g Macbeth - Tomorrow, Tomorrow and
    tomorrow. Juliet Romeo, Romeo, Romeo
  • Soliloquies could appear to be spoken
    confidentially to the audience eg. Macbeth Is
    this a dagger I see before meand 'asides' were
    less artificial than they often are today.

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  • The outdoor theatre performances always took
    place in the light as there was no electricity in
    those times. The theatres were open air and light
    would come in through the roof.
  • Shakespeare therefore had to establish different
    times of day and night by the words of the play.
    For example, "The iron tongue of midnight hath
    told twelve" from A Midsummer Night 's Dream or
    "The moon shines bright" from A Merchant of
  • Duration of Time is also effectively conveyed
    through the words of the play and we are
    frequently urged through a considerable period of
    time in a matter of minutes by constant time
    references. Take for instance, the murder of
    Duncan in Macbeth Act II, scene i it begins with
    a discussion between Banquo and Fleance
  • B. How goes the night, boy? F. The moon is down
    I have not heard the clock. B. And she goes down
    at Twelve. F. I take't 'tis later, sir.
  • The scene then progresses through, "the king's
    a-bed" . . . "Good repose", to the knocking on
    the door and Macduff and Lennox greeting Macbeth
    with "Good-morrow, noble sir!"

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Use of Space
  • The ceiling of the stage would be painted with
    celestial images to represent heaven.
  • The curtained recess at the back would be used,
    for instance, for the Capulets' tomb in Romeo and
    Juliet or for Desdemona's bedroom (Othello)
  • The balcony, for Juliet's bedroom.
  • The area below the stage represented hell. A
    trapdoor to the space below the stage would be an
    entrance for the witches (Macbeth) or Ophelia's
    grave (Hamlet).

  • There was no scenery or scene painting as such,
    and the imagery in the speeches was used to help
    create a picture in the audiences mind.
  • However plenty of stage properties, such as
    swords were utilized.

  • There were realistic noises off, sometimes from
    the 'heavens' - for example, in the storm in King
    Lear. Lear's words "Blow, winds, and crack your
    cheeks! rage! blow!" would be accompanied by
    appropriate noises of thunder from above in
    other plays, the sounds of battle would be heard
    from behind the stage and from under the stage
    would come such sounds as the music 'Under the
    earth' in Antony and Cleopatra or the Ghost in
    Hamlet saying "Swear!"

Costume and Make-Up
  • Costumes were elaborate and lavish (hand me downs
    from rich patrons) but it appears that there was
    little attempt to present historical or cultural
  • As soon as a character walked on the stage the
    fabric and colour of his clothing would indicate
    the role of the character he was playing -
    Elizabethan Nobles and Upper classes wore
    clothing made of velvets, furs, silks, lace,
    cottons and taffeta.
  • Young boys were hired to act in the female roles.
    Elizabethan Women's clothing was elaborate and
    was constructed with many layers of clothing. It
    would have taken some considerable time, and the
    help of a dresser, to dress in the costume of a
    female. Wigs, or periwigs as they were called,
    were readily available as they were in fashion at
    the time so this was not a costume problem.
    However, the make up used by Elizabethan women
    was! It was lead based and highly poisonous! The
    young boy actors were therefore very unhealthy,
    had unpleasant facial skin diseases and a high
    proportion actually died of poisoning.

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