History Of The Elizabethan Theater Essay

2520 words - 11 pages

The Elizabethan era, in the 1600s, was a great period of progress in the world of theater. The period was named after Queen Elizabeth I of England. It is from this period that the modern day society has its foundation for the entertainment industry. From the violence that occurred through the aftermath of the Black Death, people turned to the theater for its wide variety of performances. Many aspects of the theater in the Elizabethan time period led to the way the theater works today. Actors and playwrights had to overcome strenuous times, but as time passed the theater became more accepted and a required part of society in the Elizabethan Era.
In spite of its popularity, the Elizabethan theater attracted criticism, censorship, and was ridiculed from some spectators of English society. Puritan leaders as well as officers of the Church of England considered actors to be of questionable character. Not only did they criticize actors, but they also judged playwrights for using the stage to advertise their irreverent opinions. At times throughout the sixteenth century, Parliament censored plays for profanity, heresy, or politics. Their ultimate goal was to shut down the theater so playwrights wouldn’t “manipulate” their audiences. But Queen Elizabeth and later King James offered protections that ultimately allowed the theater to survive. To appease Puritan and Parliament’s concerns, the Queen established rules to control the production of theaters. These rules prohibited the construction of theaters and theatrical performances within the London city limits. Even though the Queen set these rules, they were loosely enforced, however, and playhouses such as the Curtain, the Globe, the Rose, and the Swan was constructed just outside of London. Those playhouses weren’t placed there by accident. All of those theaters are placed within easy reach of the theater-going public (“Elizabethan Actors,” n.d.)
During a period when the plague passed through England taking 20,000 peoples lives, the churches tried to prevent that from ever happening again. After the plague swept through England, whole villages and towns ceased to exist (“The Black Death” n.d.) To avoid another sickness, church leaders tried to close theaters because they feared that the overcrowding of theater spaces might lead to the spread of disease. It was not only the churches that were worried about the spread of disease; a group called the Common Council of the City shared the churches fears. For a limited time the Council managed to close all theaters. On the 6th of December, the Common Council of the City found that they could not pursue in denying the actors their right to the stage any longer. So, the council drew up a long act to control the theater as they saw fit. A few of the new laws that were enforced are, "No play should be shown 'wherein shall be uttered and words, examples of doings of any unchaste, sedition or such unfit, uncomely matter'." Another important law that...

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