The Shakespearean Theatre

Essay by Katerina_gantchevaHigh School, 11th gradeA, December 2002

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The most influential writer in all of English literature, William Shakespeare was born in 1564 to a successful middle-class glove-maker in Stratford-upon-Avon, England. Shakespeare attended grammar school, but his formal education proceeded no further. In 1582 he married an older woman, Anne Hathaway, and had three children with her. Around 1590 he left his family behind and traveled to London to work as an actor and playwright. Public and critical acclaim quickly followed, and Shakespeare eventually became the most popular playwright in England and part owner of the Globe Theatre. (Julius Caesar booklet, p. 1)

There was a need for a place in which actors would reach their growing audience, for their plays were becoming more popular, and were essentially public in their appeal. They were full of the tremendous sense of discovery of the time, supplying verse for those who wished to listen and plenty of blood and action for those who wished to look.

The natural choice fell upon the general meeting place of the inn yards, centre of food and drink, used by all travellers, and frequented by all society. These yards were open to the air and provided a circular, galleries surround to a pit, in which the groundlings could stand. A temporary platform was built on scaffolding so that it jutted into the audience on three sides, the back galleries being used for dressing rooms and often as part of the play for alcoves or balconies.

Elizabethan theatres were generally built after the design of the original Theatre. Built of wood, these theatres comprised three tiers of seats on a circular shape, with a stage area on one side of the circle. The audience's seats and part of the stage were roofed, but much of the main stage and the area in front of the...