We don’t actually know if he looks like this, for all we know, he could have looked like this… Elizabethan Theatre Research The Performances The performances of the Elizabethan times were set out very differently from present day theatre. The actors were only given their part of the script usually including one or two script lines – good because they had to listen and react, and inexpensive to print. Mostly open air theatres – actors had to speak loudly over audiences noise, who were seated around three sides of the stage, meaning the actors had to perform to each side. Set and props very minimal, sometimes non-existent. Text = key component of plays – common saying “going to hear a play”. Scene would be painted through words. Only men onstage, so young boys would play the women. Elizabethan Theatre Research The Performances Entrances and exits could only be made through one door at the back of the stage - careful rehearsing was needed to avoid ‘door traffic’. Evil characters would also sometimes enter and exit through a trap door leading under the stage – a type of hell. Characters undergoing intense emotional upheaval would show certain identifiable symptoms as it was believed a persons emotional and physiological states were linked. One symptom was going pale or red, this ability to change complexion at will was a highly valued talent in actors. Theatres were built especially for plays – such as in Romeo and Juliet where a balcony was used. Performances were usually lengthy – as all afternoon entertainment with several intermissions Elizabethan Theatre Research The Acting Companies Elizabethan Theatre was very popular, and without men (women could not act or perform) to act there would have been no plays. Because of this reason, acting troupes were formed. Lord Strange's Men. Briefly known as the Earl of Darby's men, this troupe was well known as acrobats. They were very active while performing, lots of physical work. In the early 1580s they toured the provinces of England, before appearing at Court. In 1588, the leader of the troupe, along with many others went to join rivals, Queen Elizabeth's Men. In the same year, they also associated with the Admiral's men. Both troupes performed plays at The Theatre and The Rose, which included many of Shakespeare's plays. In 1594 Lord Strange died, the group left London to go back to the provinces. Those who did not agree with the choice joined the Chamberlain's Men. Elizabethan Theatre Research The Acting Companies Chamberlain's Men + King's Men. Briefly known as the Hundon's Men, this troupe was considered the most important company in Elizabethan England. In 1597 Henry Carey (Lord Chamberlain) died, his son George took over the company. It was again known as the Lord Chamberlain's Men, until March 1603 when it was taken under royal patronage and known as the King's Men. Admiral's Men. Briefly known as Lord Howard's Men, named after Charles Howard. In 1585, Lord Howard became the Lord Admiral of England (leading to the name change of the Admiral's Men). For a brief period they were considered the finest Elizabethan troupe, until the Chamberlain's Men gained a following. By 1631 the company had disbanded. Elizabethan Theatre Research Physicality of the Style More than eight hundred characters appear in Shakespeare’s thirtyeight plays. Variety of heroes, villains, kings and queens, the young and the old. Stock characters are used that are subject to little development or complexity, figures familiar to any audience, readily recognized and enjoyed by the audience. The group is made of smart-talking servants, inept police men, common citizens or soldiers, court fops, and other various figures, who demonstrate the stereotypical, often comic, qualities of their origins, whether they be English, Welsh, French, Italian, or Spanish. Shakespeare’s characters are often complex; they are torn on divided loyalties, sudden passion, joy. These are important to the audience as the characters mirror emotions people have in everyday life. Elizabethan Theatre Research Physicality of the Style Aside from Shakespeare’s poetic powers, it is the range and depth of his characters that are outstanding to the plays. These are figures that may be found: Lovers, those who are young, innocent, vulnerable. Villains, both those who act out of inbred evil and those who are drawn to treachery by lust, envy, hatred, or ambition. Figures of authority, such as Roman emperors, monarchs of many realms, lordly dukes, senators, generals, a fairy king. The young, in careless pursuit of pleasure or as innocent victims of their elders, scheming to evade parental designs. The aged, wise, foolish, in their fading years either cursing the trick that time has played on them. Mothers, some fiercely ambitious and protective of their children, others sunk in sorrow of their loss. The range of Shakespeare’s characters is extraordinary, as we follow the unfolding events that lead to each character. For example, Othello transforms from a dotting husband into a brutal murder, for revenge. Some characters have little change in their actions, for example Richard the third is a wicked character at the end as he is at the beginning. A character like himself can lead themselves to a more analytic approach. Elizabethan Theatre Research Use of Voice The fact is that we don’t entirely know exactly what Shakespeare’s English sounded like. It is thought that it was somewhere between Australian, Cornish, Irish, Scottish and a dash of Yorkshire. It did not sound like the ‘English’ accent of today. Accent altered between social classes and was dependent on where you lived – city, country etc. Actors were expected to be heard everywhere in the theatre, with no microphones and audiences of 2000 people so projection was immensely important. Song used in the plays, boys who were accomplished singers and actors would perform the songs. Elizabethan Theatre Research Use of Voice It is common in Shakespeare’s scripts to find that the rhythm of the words are written in, this is called iambic pentameter and suggests the way the words should be spoken. To understand iambic pentameter, you first need to understand the term ''iamb.'' The words ''annoy,'' ''fulfill,'' ''pretend,'' ''regard,'' and ''serene'' are all iambs because the one syllable of each word is unstressed and the one syllable is stressed. Here is an example from Romeo and Juliet. But, soft! What light through yonder window breaks? Here are two more lines from Romeo and Juliet that also demonstrate the use of iambs: I will not fail: 'tis twenty years till then. I have forgot why I did call thee back. When a line has five iambs, it is in iambic pentameter. Elizabethan Theatre Research Mannerisms of Movement and Gesture The physical movement of a character during a play. May include facial expressions, and body language. Sometimes a playwright will be very explicit about bodily and facial gestures in the stage directions. Shakespearian acting style is termed today as being melodramatic – distinguished by emphasized and exaggerated displays of emotions and stock characters. Important because audiences were large and loud. Movements and gestures also spelt out the intricate details of the play which could not exist in props or scenery. Elizabethan Theatre Research Use of Multiple Modes of Performance Dance: Dance played an important part in Elizabethan life, therefore it also played a large part in Shakespeare’s plays. Shakespeare sometimes used to dance to explain a situation or a persons feelings to the audience, if it could not be explained in words. In ‘Romeo and Juliet’ the masked dance is a key moment in the play, as it is what finally brings the pair together. This is an example of Shakespeare’s use of dance to develop important moments etc.. Another example of this is in the play ‘As you like it’, when a dance is used to bring the play to a happy conclusion. Shakespeare used dance as a way of making uninteresting parts of the play more entertaining. Elizabethan Theatre Research Use of Multiple Modes of Performance Music: Shakespeare re-invented the way music was used in drama and in doing so, he shaped the use of music in dramatic productions, films and television today. Shakespeare used music as a way of enhancing his comedies. Shakespeare believed that music played a key part in creating a ‘dramatic force’ in his plays.