Audience Shakespearean Of TheTheater Essay, Research Paper
The Audience of the Shakespearean Theater
During the Elizabethan Age there were different social classes. What you wore depended upon the social class to which you belonged. It was easy to distinguish the classes by the way people would dress for the theater, and also where they sat to watch the performance.
The lower class, also called peasants, were poorer people. Most were merchants or servants. A peasant man would wear a tunic or shirt, and breeches of some kind. He would also wear a laced-up or buttoned jerkin (vest) and some kind of hat. All would have cloth hosen (stockings) and shoes, or if he wore no hose, he would have long breeches similar to pajama pants.
A peasant woman wore a long-sleeved shift under everything and at least two skirts over that. She had an apron on over the skirts. She wore a tight fitting bodice or vest (scoop or square necked), which usually came to a point in front, and laced or buttoned on over the shift.
Most peasants paid one penny to stand in the pit to watch what was being performed. These people were also called groundlings. The pit is the ground floor in the theater.
The middle class and upper class were a lot wealthier than the peasants were. Most were knights, country squires, or wealthy merchants or artisans, with their own servants. Middle or upper class men wore a close-fitting doublet with long or short skirting that ended somewhere between his upper thigh and the knee, this was worn over their skirt. He wore breeches, also called truck-hose or upper-stocks on his lower half and they were decorated to some degree. His hosen, also called nether-stocks, now reached all the way up his legs. His fine shoes were decorated with buckles or ribbon and his garter ties were sometimes embroidered or fringed on the ends. He wore either a flat cap or a tall crowned, small brimmed hat with feathers and a fancy hatband. Many gentlemen wore knee-length coats called “surcoates” or “great coats,” and if worn long, were called “gowns.”
The middle class lady’s chemise, a long-sleeved shirt, was almost always high-necked. It might be embroidered and had neck and wrist ruffs. Over the chemise, she wore a corset, bum-roll (pad-type bolster worn on top of a woman’s petticoat, resting on her derriere to support the weight of the skirt) or farthingale (hoopskirt), and petticoats. The bodice was high-necked, with a tall collar. The overskirt was full and pleated or gathered into the waistband. The overskirt might be split up the front to display the fancy underskirt. She wore a variety of wigs, hats and headdresses. Jewelry would include gold and silver chains, strings of glass beads, semi-precious stones, or small pearls. She may have worn rings, brooches, earrings and pins as well.
Middle class people sat in the seats above and behind the pit. This is called the gallery. Upper class people sat on the sides of the theater, this is called the lord’s room. This can currently be compared to balconies.
The distinctions in dress and seating helped to ensure the audience was separated in the theater as well as they were in society during the Elizabethan age.
Leed, Drea. “Costuming Guide”. Elizabethan Costuming Page.