The Elizabethian Stage

The Building

o    The Elizabethan theatres were often round, they tried to make it look like an amphitheatre (Wooden O)
o    There were hardly any toilettes but they already had comfortable functions, like seats, foods and drinks.
o    Most theatres were open, that means that there was no or less roof, it could rain into the theatre.
o    3000 People could go into the Globe and watch the play.

The Stage

o    They had a trapdoor, they used it as a grave,
o    There was a balcony and a roof, so the actors didn’t get wet, when the rain had started.
o    The stage consisted of 3 tears, Heaven (Balcony), Earth (Stage) and Hell (The place where the crowd was standing).
o    When the play started there was a flag above the theatre:
      §  Black – Tragedy
      §  White- Comedy.
      §  Red – History.

Music, Costumes, Props

o    There was a dressing room, full of funny costumes.
o    Until early 1600’s props weren’t used.
o    The Elizabethan Theatre used allot of Sound effects.
o    Music played an important role in the setting of the mood of the players.
o    They used devices in order to create sound effects like horse trapping or rain falling.
o    Sometimes, there was an orchestra, but only when the king or noblemen were coming.


o    Only men because of the crude atmosphere in the theatre.
o    Younger kids played women.
o    In 6 Month, one company might give 150 performances with 25-30 different plays.
o    They only had one week to learn their text (about 800 Lines a day for leading roles!)

What was the general attitude towards theatres and plays?

o    Back in Shakespeare’s time, theatres were really popular.
o    While a play was going on, the audience could eat and drink, so there were often drunk people.

When and where were plays performed?

o    They played at
     §  3 o clock in the summer
     §  2 o clock in the winter
o    They played on sunny and rainy weather.

What do you know about the actors/acting companies of the time?
o    They travelled around and looked for a place to perform their play.
o    They played often at inns or at home from some nobleman.
o    The Audiences ate and drank while the performance was going on. They often become disorderly and were a problem for the local authorities.
o    Wherever they performed, pickpockets, prostitutes and beggars came to the play to get money.
o    During the time of pestilence, they were seen as dangerous because they gathered large groups of people together.
o    They seek sponsorship from noblemen to get more social acceptance.
o    Shakespeare’s Company was sponsored by lord Hudson who held the position of lord chamberlain, so they have gotten the name “Lord chamberlains Men”
o    When King James sponsored Shakespeare’s acting group, the called themselves “The Kings Men.”

Could you live on writing plays or on acting?

o    Yes but only on television because there are more viewers than on theatre, although you can’t get a response from the audience, how the play was like.

Are there any important differences between Shakespeare's theatre and modern theatres?

o    It was more interactive; the audience was really involved into the play, they could throw rotten fruit like tomatoes on the stage.
o    Acting in a theatre was in Shakespeare’s time really popular