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Elizabethan Theater Essay

1312 words - 5 pages

Elizabethan Theater

Drama changed literature and theater into what it is today. I. History of Elizabethan Theater a. forming of theater 1. medieval church 2. mystery and morality b. actors 1. rogues and thieves 2. acting guilds II. Influences and people a. commanding actors 1. Shakespeare 2. Burbage b. other 1. wars of the roses (other historical influences) 2. laws restricting theater III. The theaters a. prices 1. seating 2. stage b. the theater and the globe 1. locations and characteristics 2. Burbage and other accomplishment Elizabethan Drama During the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, England underwent a dramatic change in priorities. The importance of art and literature became highly prevalent. The impact of the Elizabethan drama and style still influences culture. It changed altered it into what it modern literature and theater is today. The Elizabethan Age began during the last twenty years of Elizabeth I’s reign (Lace, 71). Elizabeth loved the arts and England had increased in wealth and internal peace (Lace, 71). Elizabethan drama placed its roots in the medieval church (Lace, 71). Since all services were held in Latin, a language common people did not speak, priests acted out the stories of the bible to teach (Lace, 71). Beginning in church behind the alter, plays grew more popular as more people wanted to see them (Lace, 71). When there were not enough priests to fill the roles, commoners were given parts. Eventually, the common people took over the plays and the church became less involved (Lace, 72). The biblical plays transformed into mystery and morality plays. Morality plays were more serious and meant to teach people the difference between right and wrong (Lace, 78). Mystery plays, while still teaching morals, were the more entertaining plays. Both were highly religious. The actors of the time led an ambiguous life. In the first half of the 16th century they were seen as little better than thieves; some, in fact, were thieves (Lace, 73). While some actors were performing others would go through the crowds and pick pocket (Lace, 74). Touring companies were small, usually less than ten people (Lace, 74). Actors traveled by wagon and slept in or under them (Lace, 74). Almost no women were actors, women’s parts were played by younger boys (Lace, 74). Elizabethan theater was strongly influenced by individuals and events - It also was an influence on the people themselves. Although there were many outstanding actors and playwrights, only a few are acknowledged for their affect in molding early theater. When Christopher Marlowe, the most famous playwright in his time (Lace, 79), died, William Shakespeare was his successor. Shakespeare decided drama was to be his career after seeing the Queen’s Players during a visit to his hometown of Stratford-on-Avon in 1587 (Lace, 79). By the time of Marlowe’s death, Shakespeare was already well known for his three part “Henry VI” in 1592 (Lace, 79). His plays “Love’s Labour’s Lost” and “Romeo and...

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