Elizabethan/Romeo &Juliet Essay, Research Paper

Elizabethan Theater

Elizabethan times in the 1600s was a progression for the world of the theater. A period named after Queen Elizabeth I of England, it is from this period that modern day society has its foundation for the entertainment industry. From the violence that was prevalent because of the Black Death, people turned to the theater for its poetry and romance. During this time period, there were two types of theatrical performances that were available for the people s viewing, comedies or tragedies. These two genres were never really intertwined until the time of William Shakespeare. His play, Romeo and Juliet, is an example of both a comedy and a tragedy. It starts off as a comedy with Romeo weeping like a baby because of his love Rosaline, who did not love him back and ends as a tragedy when Romeo and Juliet, a pair of star crossed lovers, commit suicide because the lost of each other. It was also during Shakespeare s time that writer were finally acknowledged by the people. Before this time, writers were not considered upper classman. Another group of people that began to rise into a higher social class were the actors. Actresses were not present back then because women were not allowed on stage. It was considered unladylike to have a female actor. Men played all the parts. Theater owners were dependent on actors to make them a profit. Rehearsals for the plays were fairly short, only lasting for about a week. The performances themselves would only show for three to four days. Actors were expected to memorize hundreds of lines at a time. While one play could be performing, actors would be practicing lines for their next show. Play writers also began to make roles for the actors in the theatrical pieces. The theaters that actors performed in were roofless so that the sun could be used as lighting. Theatrical shows were held in the afternoon because it provided the best amount of light for the show. When the people gathered into the theater, the different classes of people were separated by where they could afford to sit and watch the show. The lower classmen were situated on the bare earth where it was dirty and smelly because it was never cleaned. The owners of the theaters found it less expensive if they did not keep high maintenance of their establishments. Higher classmen sat under a roof and for a penny more, they could buy cushions for their seats. The color of a person s clothing also told his or her ranks in society. The rich wore bright colors and many layer to show their wealth. Bright dyes for clothing was very expensive, therefore the poor wore dull earthly colored clothing. When the show started, it would go on until the end because there were no intermissions. Because the theater was crowded and dirty, town officials held great hatred towards it and tried to close them down any chance they could. They felt it was where the plague began. Also, the people left their work to see the shows. This in turn caused them to loose money. Because of the instability of the theater, the owners were often diverse and were involved in a variety of other fields. They made sure that their theater was not their main support of income. A time when the foundation of the entertainment industry built, Elizabethan theater progressed from the Elizabethan Era. Writers and actors both rose into higher society. Writers were acknowledged for their works and actors for their ability to entertain. Tragedies and comedies were intertwined, which caused the people to move from just wanting to comedies. From this ere, the modern day outline of the


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