Lecture Notes 1-16

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Lecture #2 September 9, 2013
Key Concepts “Shakespeare’s World”
- The Curtain; The Globe; the date of the first London theatre
- Capacity of playhouses
- Dangers of the theatre
- Gentlemen; Citizen; Yeoman artificers; laborers
- Liberties
- Population of London (1520:60,000/1550:120,000/1600:200,000)
- Places w/in the theatre: The Yard; Groundlings; Lord’s Room
- Theatrical detractors (stage v pulpit)
- Deuteronomy 22:5
- Master of the Revels, Sir Edmund Tilney
- Allowed copy
- Quarto; First Folio (1623); Foul papers; fair copy; “the book of the play”/promptbook
Situating ourselves historically
Important Dates
- The English Renaissance: Early 16th century mid/late 17th century
- Shakespeare’s Life: baptised April 23 1564-death April 23 1616
- Shakespeare’s Writing Life: 1590-1613
Renaissance vs. Early Modern Era
- Terms used interchangeably
- Renaissance looks back
o A rebirth of western classical learning
- Early modern is the sense that this is the beginning of something that will become familiar to us
The Theatre and
- London and its Liberties
o Liberties is outside London’s city limits
- Spectacle was a central part of life in 16th century England
- Queen Elizabeth dies in 1603
o The Rainbow Portrait
o The Royal exchange
- Arches were erected throughout the city
o For performances
- Kings and Queens would spend upwards of a full day moving throughout the city watching
performances staged by small merchant companies
- Those of higher rank might have been invited to the Queen’s court
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o Formal portraiture was a part of the spectacle for foreign visitors
- Orange women
o Prostitutes would carry oranges to let people know their trade
- Cockfights were popular
- Bear-baiting was a popular blood sport at the time
o Bear tied to a post w/ a chain, it would fight dogs, etc.
- Both bear-baiting and theatre going were considered similar b/c both were illegal
- Public executions were held on a scaffold
o Scaffold was also a word for the stage at the time
- Regular play going in London started in the 1570’s
o Theatre called “The Curtain” opened in London in 1570
- Street performances by troupes of travelling actors were enjoyed before the theatre was
popularized
o Mystery plays
Christian mysteries of the Bible
Noah’s ark, etc.
o Morality plays
Characters named “Evil” “Vice” would fight it out on stage
- Activities of large crowds could not be controlled easily due to the fact that there was no central
police force
- The mayor is forced to answer if disorder occurs, but he cannot enforce order w/o a central
police force
- Sedition is critical subversive references to affairs of state or to living persons of high rank
o The Queen, The Lord Mayor, etc.
- Authorities worry that plays might invoke practiced sedition
o Plays themselves could spread new and dangerous ideas
o The theatre can be infectious in both a metaphorical and literal way
All boy actors play both men and women
Contrary to Biblical order
Women exhibit power over their husbands
Clowns question their King
- The fear of deceit and the fear of pretense upset the Church the most
o An ordinary actor could persuade the theatre goers that he was King
- Theatres were all erected in the suburbs, the Liberties of London, just outside the city limits and
the legal jurisdiction of the Lord Mayor
o Despite this, the mayor is still held accountable for what happens there
- Demographic Info
o London was the largest city in England by far
o Following Shakespeare’s death, it was the largest city in Europe
o Population almost doubled in Shakespeare’s lifetime
o Lots of immigration due to employment opportunities
o Theatres
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Gave way to the mixing of rank
Enabled the mixing of men and women
Enabled the mixing of Englishmen and foreigners
- Theatre goers passed by several things on the way to the theatre
o Brothels
o Bear-baiting Pits
o Merchants from abroad selling cheap wears that are not authorized for sale in the city
o Prison known as “The Clink
- Theatre goers were generally:
o Apprentices and Artisans taking time off work
o Students skipping lectures
o Women of all social ranks
- Social range of playgoers was a micro chasm of the Renaissance
- Social Ranks:
o Laborer
Manual laborers, physical work, not tradespeople
o Yeoman
Farmers who are getting by, making an okay living
o Citizen
People that apprenticed for 7 years and then were given citizenship once they
completed that apprenticeship
o Gentleman
People that didn’t have to work
Monarchs, or descendants of monarchs
Noble blood
o Leaves out foreigners, royalty, the clergy, anyone who is making their living illegally
o Anyone outside of this system might be called a rouge
o You could be put in jail for roguery
- The cost of attending a theatre during this period made it very inclusive
Plays often ran for 3-4 hours
o For one penny, a playgoer could buy a ticket in a standing room called The Yard
People who stood there ironically had some of the best views
These theatre goers were called Groundlings
o Two pennies bought a seat in the bench
o Six pence bought a seat in The Lord’s Room
Ironically the least best view of the stage
Positioned above the stage
Offered the audience a view of those in the Lord’s Room
People bought these tickets to be seen and to let people know that they were
doing well, financially
- Shakespeare invested in the Globe theatre
- Theatrical Detractors (The Enemies of the Stage)
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Document Summary

The curtain; the globe; the date of the first london theatre. Master of the revels, sir edmund tilney. Quarto; first folio (1623); foul papers; fair copy; the book of the play /promptbook. Places w/in the theatre: the yard; groundlings; lord"s room. The english renaissance: early 16th century mid/late 17th century. Shakespeare"s life: baptised april 23 1564-death april 23 1616. Renaissance looks back: a rebirth of western classical learning. Early modern is the sense that this is the beginning of something that will become familiar to us. London and its liberties: liberties is outside london"s city limits. Spectacle was a central part of life in 16th century england. Queen elizabeth dies in 1603: the rainbow portrait, the royal exchange. Arches were erected throughout the city: for performances. Kings and queens would spend upwards of a full day moving throughout the city watching performances staged by small merchant companies.

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