The Renaissance Theatre
By Macey Colburn, Brendan Simpson, Dayana Romero and Bryan D During the late fourteenth through the early seventeenth century an awaking of the arts and learning boomed in the western world. This awaking or rebirth is known as the Renaissance. The Renaissance era was a glorious time. European politics changed dramatically there was a rise of kings and princes and merchants became key economic figures. As people started to accumulate more money they had leisure time to fill and would become eager to show off their fortune by hiring artists to create extravagant works for them. During the Renaissance there was an apparent change in the art from medieval art. Medieval artists focused on religious subjects in their paintings and sculptures where Renaissance artists focused on human beings and creating realistic paintings and sculptures. In 1450 the printing press was invented and this made literature available to great numbers of people. The Renaissance also saw an impressive development in theatre, especially in Italy, England, Spain, and France.
The English Renaissance was a time when language and literature flourished. This period is often called the Elizabethan period because Queen Elizabeth was the major political figure. She reigned for forty-five years from 1558 to 1603. During this time the English were intrigued by language and Queen Elizabeth was an amateur linguist. Not only did the English love language they also had a love for the theatre. Two great playwrights of the Elizabethan era were Christopher Marlowe and William Shakespeare. Christopher Marlowe, one of the most important playwrights of the Elizabethan era, was known for perfecting a key element to theatre; dramatic poetry. Marlowe’s “mighty line” also known as his dramatic verse in iambic pentameter developed strength, subtlety, and suppleness as well as great lyric beauty. Marlowe wrote several plays including Doctor Faustus (c. 1588) Tamburlaine (Parts 1 and 2; c. 1587) and Edward II (c. 1592). Unfortunately this lyric genius’ life was cut short when he was stabbed to death in a tavern brawl in 1593. He died at the age of twenty- nine. The other great playwright of this era was William Shakespeare. Shakespeare appeared on the theatre scene around 1590 just about the time Marlowe made his debut. He was a native of Stratford-on-Avon and his father was a glove maker and his mother was the daughter of a prominent landowner and farmer. Shakespeare was educated in Stratford and he married Ann Hathaway. She bore him three children and was several years older than Shakespeare. By the time Shakespeare’s third child was born he left his family and went to London where he first worked as an actor and soon after became a playwright. He combined Senecan dramatic devices, the platform stage, powerful dramatic verse, source material form English history, Roman history and drama, and episodic plot structure and made all these elements into the most remarkable plays ever created. The theatres that were big during the Elizabethan era were public or outdoor theatres. The plays of Shakespeare and Marlowe were mainly performed in public theatres. These theatres where located outside the city limits of London to avoid government restrictions. All levels of society attended public theatres and the most famous public theatre was the Globe theatre because it was the home of Shakespeare’s plays. The theatres were built to hold a lot of people and the exact shape of the theatres varied. Depending on the shape of the theatres the public theatres could hold between 1,500 to 3,000 people. The stage of the public theaters was a raised platform that was closer to a contemporary thrust than to a proscenium stage. This kind of stage was great for quickly changing locations from a bedroom to a battlefield. In the stage floor were trapdoors. Behind the raised platform was the stage house. The stage house also known as the...
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