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The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare: Ch. 4

by: Madison Krasko

The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare: Ch. 4 657

Marketplace > University of New Hampshire > Foreign Language > 657 > The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare Ch 4
Madison Krasko

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This chapter describes the details within Shakespeare's performances, the playhouses they were performed in, and the owners of the companies. It goes into details about the different aspects and sk...
Shakespeare 657
Dr. Murphy
Class Notes
Shakespeare, English 657, English Shakespeare, Shakespeare Style, How to read Shakespeare, Shakespeare Exam 1
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This 6 page Class Notes was uploaded by Madison Krasko on Thursday March 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to 657 at University of New Hampshire taught by Dr. Murphy in Spring 2016. Since its upload, it has received 44 views. For similar materials see Shakespeare 657 in Foreign Language at University of New Hampshire.


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Date Created: 03/03/16
Shakespeare: The Bedford Companion to Shakespeare Chapter 4­ Performances, Playhouses, and Players Going to a Play, Circa 1595 1. The Theatre= one of the first permanent structures built for drama in  England. a. Built in 1576 by James Burbage b. The Curtain= the second structure built 1 year later 2. A Company would be in charge of the play performing . a. Shakespeare was part of Lord Chamberlain’s Men. b. This company was made of a group of players who left other companies to join under Henry Carey and Lord Hunsdon. c. Lord Chamberlain’s Men= the most successful troupe in England 3. Gatherers= what they called todays ticket takers/ ushers 4. The Elizabethan theatre set ups were different from current conventional  stages a. These stages were bare, without pictorial scenery b. There is also no program to introduce the characters here, the audience  would need to figure that out through the lines and props.  c. Between scenes the stage will momentarily be empty, then the next scene  will start d. There was no curtain to lower and raise between scenes.  e.  Scen  in Elizabethan= a location where characters meet and converse.  When the place changes the scenes change.  f. Elizabethan stage is known for the “Empty Space” g. Large scenic props were used but no backdrops were used, along with no  curtain h. This allows flexibility and quick pace through the play 5. They didn’t need to constantly change the backgrounds a. The audience was in charge of mapping and keeping track of the time with what the characters say.  b. They would provide verbal and visual codes for day and night c. Torches served to indicate nighttime 6. Costumes were very expensive and a very large part  a. The costumes actually brought in foreign visitors b. Sometimes wealthy citizens would leave their clothes to favorite servants  and they would sell them for great money to theatres c. Clothing was very very expensive and a popular trade item  d. Clothing signified certain events: i. Nightgown= a late hour or surprise awakening ii. Riding gear= a journey iii. Headwear= determined social/economic status e. Colors reflect the range for characteristics. Common colors were  carnation, dark brown, tobacco, and goose­turd green. 7. Woman did not act on stage until after the Restoration in 1660 a. Roles of girls and woman were mostly always played by pre­pubesant  boys. Some may be by men.  b. Most boy actors were apprenticed to members of the company c. This had a huge role on the choices the play­writers had to make on roles d. Shakespeare normally had 3­4 woman parts e. When he found a star­quality actor he made the roles Lady Macbeth,  Volumnia, and Cleopatra The Playhouses 1. Archeologists have been excavating theatres. They found The Rose and then  unearthed The Globe theatre 2. In the 1590’s outdoor theatres, also called public theatres were operating in  London a. The outdoor theatres were outside the city walls because London’s  authorities were Puritan and opposed the performances b. Most popular: i. The Theatre­ 1576—the 1  permanent playhouse ii. The Curtain­1577 iii. The Rose­ 1587 iv. The Swan­1595 v. The Globe­1599 c. The owner of the Theatre actually lost his lease and had to shut down the  playhouse for two seasons. Lord Chamberlains men moved around to  different playhouses but eventually came up with a plan. i. They dismantled to Theatre and moved the pieces across the river  where they hired a contractor to use the pieces to build the Globe 3. After the turn of the Century, Indoor/ Private theatres because very  important a. The major indoor playhouse= Blackfriars  b. It was initially suppose to be built to house Lord Chamberlains Men but  the local neighborhood did not allow this c. A decade later, in 1608 this was approved and Lord Chamberlains Men  performed here and at the Globe theatre.  4. Theatre architecture had to be pretty uniform so plays could be performed  the same in all theatres.  a. They consisted of a bare stage with heavens, hell, a trap, doors leading to  the tiring­house, and tarras i. Heavens= a roof supported by two columns that partly covers the  play area and is decorated with paintings of the sun, moon and  stars ii. Hell= hidden area under the stage to allow for special effects iii. The back of the stage had doors that actors could enter and exit iv. Tarras= private viewing rooms for the wealthy, or used during  plays that need a two­story scene (balcony scenes) v. The Hut= Above the tarras where special effects were also done 5. The Audiences a. Todays area for spectators are dramatically different from back then i. The Yard= Standing space for individuals in front of the stage,  Paid 1 penny ii. Gallery= 2 penny’s, more comfortable iii. Higher Gallery= more expansive view, 3 penny’s iv. Lords Room= best seats in the house, private portions of the  gallery nearest the stage. A sixpence b. Price Comparison: i. 7 pounds= average annual salary of farmer ii. 5 pounds= average amount a playwright brought in   iii. 50­60 pounds= a full, complete, nice outfit c. The type of audience is not exactly known but it is believed that  outdoor theatres had a large mix of social classes d. Indoor playhouses were smaller with higher admission cost i. Indoor playhouses did not hold as many lower class citizens due to  the price changes ii. Price for entry= sixpence iii. Bench in the pit= a sixpence+shilling iv. These were normally in down, not the suburbs The Companies 1. Actors were low on the social ladder, the same level as beggars a. Because of this, the law required an Aristocratic patron to be in charge for  the acting troupes. b. From 1570­90 many groups formed.  c. By the Mid 1590’s only two companies existed: i. Lord Admiral’s Men ii. Lord Chamberlain’s Men  d. In 1598, These two companies were the only legal ones to play in London. 2. Having plays performed in a single location by the same groups led to the  maturing of English drama. 3. Lord Admiral’s Men was led by business man Philip Henslowe a. He was the landlord, moneylender, promoter, and father of star actor b. Henslowe was in charge of building the Rose theatre in 1587. In 1592 he  expanded it to make it bigger c. When Lord Chamberlains Men took apart the Theatre and built the Globe  right across the street from the Rose, Henslowe fought back by building  the Fortune theatre in the community that the Theatre used to exist in.  d. Henslowe left a diary that helped us learn the common amount earned  from a playwright (5­8 pounds), costume cost, and time from having the  manuscript delivered to the play performed.  4. Henslowe’s counterpart in the rival company= James Burbage a. James Burbage arranged the building of the Red Lion­ 1567, and the  Theatre­1567 b. He purchased the Blackfriars in 1595 c. His one son helped run the business, other son was the main actor 5. The Shareholders were the key a. Shareholding brought in profit but was a lot of responsibility i. They had to commit their talents and services to the company only ii. They couldn’t sell their share unless the fellow sharers agreed iii. About 10­12 shareholders once they became Kings Men. iv. Housekeeper= shareholders that also invested in the actual theatre b. Sharers formed the core of each company.  i. They took major acting roles ii. Or they supplied scripts (like Shakespeare did) c. Hired men, paid by the week filled in the rest of the work, doing the small  word and roles. d. The main size of a major London company=20­30 people  6. Actors had to sometimes play 2 roles if there were more roles than actors a. Doubling, the absence of scenery (Empty stage), lack of artificial lighting,  and the proximity of the audience created PRESENTATIONAL theater. i. Presentational theater is the illusion of a fictional narrative being  maintained at the same time that the audience is reminded that a  fiction is being performed  7. Major companies played everyday except for on major church holidays a. A new play was added every couple weeks The Theater and the Authorities 1. The municipal government and the Crown both paid attention to the  growing theater popularity in Elizabethan London. 2. Prohibitions were placed on theaters because they thought the tight crowded  audience space had something to do the plague spreading a. From 1592­94 the theaters were closed b. They were also closed during Elizabeth’s final illness in 1603 3. The city governments did not like the theaters because it was against their  Puritan beliefs a. This is why they built their theaters outside of the city limits. That way  they full under the ruling of the Crown, not the City b. Elizabeth and James’ government was more tolerable because they liked  the theater. 4. The Revels Office was created by Henry VIII to basically be the government  censor on playwrights a. They would approve playwrights, license playhouses, check and approve  plays for print. b. The governments supported the plays because Elizabeth and James liked  them. They would pay to have the actors come to the castle and perform 5. Another venue was the Provinces. This was an on the road group of actors


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