Shakespearean Theatre

Live through the entire Shakespearean era of theatre

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare is the most well known playwright from the 1500s and 1600s. He wrote many plays for many theatres in London. He was also an actor.

Did you know that a little before Shakespeare's time, going to the theatre was a disreputable pastime?

The Changed Reputation

Before Shakespeare, theatre was frowned upon by the people of London and seen as a disreputable pastime. During the reign of Elizabeth I, theatres were banned, although the Queen was fond of the theatre. As time drug on, the theatre gained a better reputation and people often went.

What is the Globe?

The Globe Theatre was a theatre in London associated with William Shakespeare. It was built in 1599 by Shakespeare's playing company, the Lord Chamberlain's Men. Check out the link below to find out more about the Globe. It was destroyed by a fire in 1613. The site of the old Globe spot was found and restored in the 20th century.
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Seating in the Globe

There were different places for people with different amounts of money to spend.

Most of the poorer audience members, referred to as groundlings, would pay one penny to stand in front of the stage, while the richer patrons would sit in the covered galleries, paying as much as half a crown each for their seats. For the richer people, there were 3 levels. The first was the floor in front of the stage. This had no seats and the tickets were sold to men only. It was very rough and loud. Often fights broke out and very few listened to the play. The next level was on the second floor. This was for couples and to some extent they watched the play. The third floor was for "working" girls who catered to the the men on the first floor. They were not there for the play. Among all of this were ladies who sold baskets of oranges.The same way you get a good seat nowadays--you pay for it. Good seats in Shakespeare's theatres could cost 3 to 4 times as much as the cheap seats (which were standing room, not seats at all).

Some of Shakespeare's Peers (also playwrights)

Shakespeare's Reputation

In his own time, was rated as merely one among many talented playwrights and poets, but since the late 17th century he has been considered the supreme playwright and poet of the English language.

Was Shakespeare friends with his peers? Yes. Ben Jonson, a prickly sort of person most of the time, spoke very fondly of him. He worked very closely with other playwrights on a number of plays, John Fletcher in particular. Shakespeare seems to have been an easy man to get along with, and the community of playwrights was usually quite tightly knit.

Did You Know?

  • Women did not act. Men would play as women.
  • They performed during the day and used the natural light from the sun.
  • The audience would eat, drink, and talk throughout the entire performance.
  • They used very little scenery and used language to set the scene.
  • Audiences weren't very nice. They would boo the actors if they didn't like the performances, and would even throw oranges at the actors.
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Now that you know a little more about the Globe and Shakespeare's theatre, check out the restored Globe. Details below.

Work Cited