Shakespeare

Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate November 2001

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Being an actor on the Elizabethan stage was no joke. The was much training and practice that went along with gaining a part. Boys were trained from when they were young, how to fence, do acrobats, and sing powerfully. It took years of work on such talents to finally prove oneself and gain a lead in a play or production. Young boys must have been intelligent and well disciplined to gain a lead early in life.

Such was the case with Shakespeare, he was only twenty when he became an actor and that meant he must have shown great talent and knowledge of all the requirements to star on the Elizabethan stage. Shakespeare must have had a strong body and voice to be recognized and established at such an early age.

Fighting was incorporated in almost every play during that time period. Therefore, requiring actors to have a knowledge in protecting themselves from stunts and falls.

Here, fencing was a mandatory skill. Actors must have known how to fight to the death for a realistic portrayal for the audience without hurting themselves, their sparring partners, or ruining their elaborate costumes. This called for much time and energy placed on the goal of mastering the skill of fencing.

Dancing was another skill that was demanded upon by those casting actors for a play. A great amount of attention was paid to the mobility of an actor in a dance number. Everything must have been right on key without a mistake. Observers and critics of the play often remarked on the choreography and therefore, constantly pushed the choreographers to devise new steps to out due the last and strained actors to work harder to put on a better show than another.

A strong body was required from the actors. Many parts were played by various actors in the same day. This called for rapid costume changes and agility to leap onstage when the next cue was called. John Shakespeare must also have possessed this ability because if he didn't, he would not have achieved the success he had.

Beside the physical endurance the actors had to poses there was an even more important qualification the actors must have had. They had to have had a strong voice. Since there were very few props the voice was used to show the location of the scenes, the emotions of each character, and the poetry and excitement of the play as a whole. It was the actors voice and tone that lured the audience in and kept their attention. Therefore, a boy or man with a weak voice was not accepted.

There were difficulties with production as there are with almost all plays. The audience had to develop an understanding of the language and what the words would come to mean later on in the play. Actors had to learn to memorize lines for various characters at a fast pace. If they forgot their lines, they would quickly be disregarded as there were more actors than roles. Timing for sound and cues was also a large part of making the show a success and this took hours of practice. The solution for actors, producers, and many others that could not keep up with the fast-paced stressful world of the theater was to join a smaller, less prominent, company where there were less demands. So, for someone like Shakespeare who stayed in the main stream for as long as he did, it is no wonder that so much praise and acclimation is awarded him.