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Development of the Elizabethan Theatre
  • Protestant Reformation
  • Tudor Pageantry
  • Medieval Stagecraft
  • Renaissance Learning and Ideas

The Tudors
Victorious in the Wars of the Roses, Henry Tudor
defeated Richard III, married Anne of York, and
became Henry VII
HENRY VII ---- Anne of York
Arthur -- Catherine -- HENRY VIII Margaret --
James IV Mary-- of Aragon
of Scotland
Louis XII
Henry VII 1485-1509 Henry VIII 1509-1547
Edward VI 1547-1553 Lady Jane Grey 1553-1553
Mary I 1553-1558 Elizabeth I 1558-1603
The Protestant Reformation
  • In order to marry Anne Boleyn, Henry requested an
    annulment of his marriage to Catherine of Aragon
    from the Pope he was refused.
  • 1531 Parliament recognized Henry VIII as head of
    the English Church.
  • Edward VI (ruled 1547-53) and Archbishop Cranmer
    transformed the Church of England into a
    thoroughly Protestant Church Calvinistic
  • Queen Mary (ruled 1553-58) reimposed Catholicism
    on the English Church Bloody Mary
  • Elizabeth (ruled 1558-1603) worked out a
    compromise church that retained as much as
    possible from the Catholic church while putting
    into place most of the foundational ideas of
  • Mystery and Morality plays were outlawed as they
    taught Roman Catholic doctrine   

1588 Defeat of the Spanish Armada
  • The disgrace to Spain greatly damaged its
  • England's star was on the rise.
  • Elizabeth took the defeat of the Armada as a sign
    of divine blessing
  • English patriotism and devotion to the Queen
    soared to its greatest heights, shown in part by
    a profusion of literature that included
    Shakespeare's first plays--patriotic histories of
    the English monarchy.

Tudor Pageantry
  • A hybrid dramatic form of literature, ritual, and
  • Royal entries and aristocratic entertainments --
    fashionable literary forms were turned to the
    service of national propaganda
  • Pageants
  • Parades
  • Masques
  • Composed by the bright young men who haunted the
    court in hopes of securing political office.

Full of spectacle music, dance,
elaborate staging, fireworks
Influence of Medieval Theatre
  • Eager audience
  • Established tradition of theatre and actors
  • Mixing of high seriousness and low comedy
  • Pagan remnants fairies and sprites
  • Feast of Fools
  • Humanistic debates

Medieval Concepts of Tragedy De casibus
tragedies of fortune
  • Tragedy is less the result of individual action
    than a reflection of the inevitable turning of
    Fortune's wheel.
  • Fortune, traditionally female because of the
    association of women with the moon and
    changeability, has two faces, one benign, one

Feast of Fools
  • Held between Christmas and Epiphany, particularly
    on New Year's Day
  • The ruling idea of the feast was the reversal of
  • The celebrations were relics of the ancient
    ceremonies of birth and renewal which took place
    at New Year and involved a temporary overturning
    of all values.
  • The Ass, a widespread feature of the festival,
    was a mixture of Celtic, Roman and Christian
    traditions, for the Ass is at once a relic of
    ancient magical cults, a fertility symbol, a
    symbol of strength and the epitome of stupidity.

  • Rebirth of Classical knowledge and ideals
  • Roman theatre as model
  • Humanistic Ideas
  • Universities
  • Oxford
  • Cambridge
  • Inns of Court

Influence of Roman Theatre
  • 5 act structure
  • Comedy Plautus and Terence
  • Plots
  • Stock characters
  • Tragedy Seneca
  • Revenge motif
  • Irony
  • Use of ghosts
  • Violent spectacle

Elizabethan Stock Characters
  • Senex old man in authority
  • Miles gloriosus braggart soldier
  • Shrew sharp-tongued woman
  • Clever servant
  • Machiavel political schemer
  • Calumniator believed a liar who is believed
  • Idiotes a malcontent
  • Pedant in love with the sound of his own
    didactic voice
  • Fools and clowns

Early Senecan Tragedies
  • Gorbuduc by Thomas Sackville and Thomas Norton
  • The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd

Humanismfrom Morality to Chronicle
  • It was the aim of the humanists to educate those
    who ruled in wise and virtuous government.
  • How do you teach a king? Very tactfully . . .
  • The effectiveness of the morality play was
    attractive to humanists, who changed the nature
    of the moral from religion to political virtue
    without changing the techniques of the drama.
  • A natural medium for the humanists to use in
    educating the king, for plays were frequently
    performed at Court.

Chronicle or History Plays
  • Explore the workings and legitimacy of kingship
  • What is a good King?
  • Historical exemplars (Lear, Macbeth, Julius
  • Often turn into tragedies

University Wits
  • University-educated playwrights, noted for their
    erudition and clever language
  • George Peele (1556-96)
  • Thomas Lodge (1558-1625)
  • Thomas Nashe ( 1567-1601)
  • Robert Greene (1560-92) best known as first
    Shakespearian critic
  • John Lyly (1554-1606)
  • Wrote courtly plays for companies of child actors
  • Plots framed around elegant debates
  • Euphuistic language

Christopher Marlowe1564-93
  • MA from Cambridge
  • Established blank verse as dramatic medium
    Marlowes mighty line
  • Overreacher
  • Killed in a brawl
  • Tragedies
  • Tamburlaine
  • Dido Queen of Carthage
  • Dr. Faustus
  • Edward II
  • Massacre at Paris
  • Jew of Malta

Ben Jonson1572-1637
  • Educated at Westminster School -- no university
    but the most learned of playwrights
  • Important comedies of humor include Every Man in
    His Humor, Volpone, The Alchemist, Bartholomew
  • Wrote and staged court masques with Inigo Jones
  • Celebrated poet and conversationalist
    Sons of Ben

Jacobean Tragedy
  • A sense of defeat
  • A mood of spiritual despair
  • The theme of insanity, of man pressed beyond the
    limit of endurance
  • Moral confusion ("fair is foul and foul is fair")
    that threatens to unbalance even the staunchest
    of heroes.
  • This sinister tendency came to a climax about
    1605 and was in part a consequence of the anxiety
    surrounding the death of Queen Elizabeth I and
    the accession of James I.
  • While the Elizabethans affirned life, the
    Jacobeans were possessed by death.

Jacobean Dramatists
  • John Webster (c.1580-c.1632)
  • Thomas Middleton (1580-1627)
  • Francis Beaumont (c. 1585-1616)
  • John Fletcher (1579-1625)
  • Cyril Tourneur (c.1575-1626)
  • John Ford (1586-c.1639)

Acting Companies
  • 1590 -- 1642 approximately 20 companies of
    actors in London (although only 4 or 5 played in
    town at one time)
  • More than a hundred provincial troupes.
  • Companies usually played in London in the winter
    and spring and to travel in the summer when
    plague ravaged the city
  • Members
  • Shareholders
  • Apprentices
  • Hired men

Boy Actors
  • No women on the English stage in Shakespeare's
  • The parts of women were acted by child
    actors--boys whose voices had not yet changed.
  • Whole acting companies were created with child
    performers the Children of the Chapel Royal, and
    the St. Paul's Boys. The children's companies
    played regularly at Court.
  • The Puritans, who disapproved of the theatre in
    general, were particularly scandalized by boys
    cross-dressing as women.

  • Largely Puritan leaders of the City of London
    disapproved of the theatres.
  • The Privy Council was wary of the political
    comment often present in topical plays.
  • Censorship under the direction of the Master of
    Revels was strict.
  • In 1596 the City Corporation ordered the
    expulsion of players from London and the closing
    of the inn-theatres.
  • Theatres moved across the River

Types of Plays
  • Chronicle or History Plays
  • Comedies
  • Romantic
  • Pastoral
  • Feast of Fools
  • Social
  • Humors
  • Tragedies
  • Senecan Revenge
  • De casibus -- turn of Fortune
  • Fatal flaw
  • Romances
  • far-away adventures
  • Any combination of the above

The best actors in the world, either for
tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral,pastoral-comica
l, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical,
scene individable or poem unlimited. -- Hamlet
William ShakespeareApril 23, 1564-April 23, 1616
  • Born in Stratford-upon-Avon
  • Married Anne Hathaway in 1582 at age of 18
  • 3 children Susanna (1583) and Hamnet and Judith
  • 1585-92 the lost years
  • 1595 record of membership in Lord Chamberlains

Early Works prior to 1594
  • Poetry
  • Venus and Adonis,
  • The Rape of Lucrece,
  • sonnets
  • Plautine Comedy
  • A Comedy of Errors
  • Courtly Comedy
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Farcical/problem Comedy
  • The Taming of the Shrew
  • History Plays
  • Henry VI 1,2,and 3
  • Richard III
  • Senecan Revenge Tragedy
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Romantic Tragedy
  • Romeo and Juliet

Lord Chamberlains Men
  • Originally formed under the patronage of Lord
    Strange, but when he died in 1594, the players
    found a patron in Henry Carey, the Lord
  • Performed at the Theatre and the Curtain
  • 1599 moved to the newly built Globe. By 1600 they
    had emerged as the leading theatrical company in
  • 1603 became the King's Men under a royal patent
    from James I. The company continued successfully
    until the Puritans closed the theatres in 1642.

The Globe
  • Built by the Burbages in 1598 for the Lord
    Chamberlains Men
  • Burned down in 1613 during production of Henry
  • Rebuilt 1614

Theatre Interiors
Blackfriars Theatre
Sketch of the Swan Theatre
Popular Success 1595-1600
  • Comedies
  • Loves Labours Lost
  • A Midsummers Nights Dream
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • As You Like It
  • Twelfth Night
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Merry Wives of Windsor
  • Histories
  • King John
  • Richard II
  • Henry IV 1,2
  • Henry V
  • Tragedies
  • Julius Caesar
  • Hamlet

A Darker Vision 1601-1607
  • Problem Plays
  • Alls Well That Ends Well
  • Measure for Measure
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Tragedies
  • Othello
  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Coriolanus

Final Works 1608-1612
  • Tragedy Timon of Athens
  • Romances
  • Cymbeline
  • Pericles
  • The Winters Tale
  • The Tempest
  • Collaborations with John Fletcher
  • Henry VIII
  • Two Noble Kinsmen

Shakespeare was buried on April 25, 1616 in Holy
Trinity Church, Stratford, where he had been
baptized just over 52 years earlier Good friend
for Jesus sake forbearTo dig the dust enclosed
here!Blest be the man that spares these
stones,And curst be he that moves my bones
First Folio 1623
  • The first collected edition of Shakespeare's
  • Included thirty-six plays, eighteen of which had
    never been published before
  • The editors of the volume, Shakespeare's fellow
    actors John Heminge and Henry Condell, arranged
    the plays in three genres Comedies, Histories,
    and Tragedies.

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