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Elizabethan Plays Stage and Theater interesting facts

An Elizabethan play is a type of English drama written and performed during 1558-1603, which was also the reign of Queen Elizabeth. This sub-classification of drama includes the work of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe, Thomas Kyd, Thomas Dekker, and Francis Beaumont among many others.

elizabethan era play stage and theatre

These are some interesting facts about Elizabethan plays:

  • Elizabethan plays were considered a great success as it greatly contributed to the development of English drama. It gave birth to literary geniuses such as Shakespeare, Marlowe, Nash, Peele, and many more.
  • Most plays at that time were performed at large public theatres. These theatres were commonly made from timbers and bricks. They were typically polygonal in plan and were three stories high.

elizabethan era play stage and theatre

  • Elizabethan playwrights are known to combine different genres such as comedy, pastoral, and tragedy, which make the drama even more appealing to the audience.
  • Elizabethan plays are also referred to as early modern English theatre.
  • Elizabethan plays did not use lavish set designs and backgrounds. Instead, the plays focused more on the visual appeal of the costumes. The clothes worn by the actors were commonly grandiose and appealing. They were also bright in colour as it attracts the attention of the audience.
  • The first permanent public theatre was built in London to further the advancement of drama which was soon becoming a booming business.
Shakespearean theatre
Elizabethan theatre stage
  • It soon led to the establishment of permanent acting companies such as King James’s Men and Lord Strange’s Men. William Shakespeare was the most popular playwright of the century.
  • The performing art industry during the Elizabethan era made a lasting impression on the history and culture of England. Queen Elizabeth I herself was an enthusiast of plays, music and performances which boosted the business.
  • The theatre was also one the way she displayed her own power and glory.
  • After the English Reformation, plays became free from religious themes. Secular plays contained a vast diversity of themes – political issues, social issues, romantic themes etc.
  • In 1559, Elizabeth banned the performance of unlicensed plays. From 1574, all acting troupes had to be licensed as well.
  • The first licensed acting troupe was called Leicester’s Men, named after Robert Dudley, the first Earl of Leicester.
  • James Burbage built the first permanent theatre house of London in 1576 called The Theatre. It was a building with wooden enclosures and no roof on top.
  • Soon other theatre houses started to be made. Other popular theatre houses were the Rose and the Swan theatre.

Elizabethan theatre

  • The Globe Theatre was opened in 1599. It was owned by James Burbage’s son and Lord Chamberlain’s Men.
  • Shakespeare was one of the shareholders of this troupe.
  • It made the acting troupe more financially stable and enabled them to produce more plays. It provided them with a greater production value.
  • Apart from writers and actors, there were musicians, promoters and copyists in the troupe.
  • The Elizabethan era, hence, worked towards the development of drama as a performing art as well as business that had a great impact on the culture of England and the world.

More Info On- Elizabethan Theatre Actors, Costumes, Theatre Facts, Theatre Globe, History of Theatre, Playhouses

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