Research Theatre in Shakespeare’s Time
The cornerstone of entertainment
William Shakespeare’s play Macbeth was a failure — in regard to its role as a play. Theatres and audiences at his time didn’t seem to be appreciating his scripts at all. Despite their wrong criticism on this great man of letters, theatres back in the 1600s did have a wide variety of forms of plays and performances, while audiences were seeking new approaches to recreations. This provided a never-seen-before chance for the development of modern entertainment. The demanding demands on the actors, the changes in the theatre and the initial expression of people’s tastes are the cornerstones of the creation of modern entertainment.
To begin, the good actors must be the most indispensable resource for modern entertainment. The same was true for the dramas of Shakespeare’s time when actors were the most necessary presence of a drama. There can be no elaborate stage, no delicate costumes, no lighting and special effects, but there must be actors. A drama without an actor is like a man has only mind yet no body, unable to be performed and shown. The profession of an actor was strictly demanded by the public from the very beginning, which was reflected in the law and people’s prejudice at that time. The first was gender discrimination. Most plays required female characters, but because the importance of women’s rights was ignored, and neither the law nor the public pressure allowed women to become an actress. “As we know, and as Thomas Jordan’s prologue makes very clear, prior to Marshall, women did not play Shakespearean roles. Instead, the practice of casting boy actors in female parts meant that the playful exploration of gender was written into these plays from the start” (The first English actress, para. 1).
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In the above remarks, it can be found that women as actresses have been subjected to serious discrimination and prejudice. As the claim by Thomas Jordan, people at the time believed that only men could act well in plays, let alone Shakespeare’s. Serious sexism prevented women from becoming actors. “Shakespeare was an actor, people who were actors were called undesirables by England laws” (Was Shakespeare an actor, para. 1). In fact, actors were not in high status in Shakespeare’s time. Even the publics classify them as ‘vagabonds and sturdy beggars’ according to an act of Parliament in 1572 defined them, and as “servants of noblemen”. All of these, however, has evolved over time. In Shakespeare’s time, actors were not well regarded. So, they had to have more changes and cater to the audience. In this unfair time, every actor is forced by life to improve his acting skills and plan better scripts. There was a general default stereotype towards actors that an actor could only play one kind of character in his life.
Although they can only play one role in their lifetime, it also gives them the opportunity to delve deeper into analysis of this type of role. These analyses would then be passed on to the next generation of actors, which were then spread out to the rest of the world. At the same time, as the servants of the aristocracy recognized by law, they also had to have good manners. This was very strict on the character of the actors, to avoid unnecessary collision when aristocrats were seeing dramas. Thus, the character of the actor was quickly cultivated by the social environment. Good character and professional acting had made the profession a success. Also to the modern entertainment training and laid a good social resources.
Furthermore, if an actor is a program in a computer, the theater is then a computer display. The theatre is the stage where actors perform and the best place for drama. A good theatre accommodates its deficiencies by considering its furnishings and configuration. The Globe theatre is a good example to everyone. It was established before Shakespeare, and as the once popular theater, it recorded the most authentic appearance of the former theater. ‘At the gation of American actor and director Sam Wanamaker, a new Globe theatre was built according to an Elizabethan plan.’ (the modern Globe, para. 1) Just as ginkgo, the living fossil of the biological world, the Globe theatre is also a ‘fossil’ in the history of entertainment. The amphitheater with a rectangular stage was a standard arrangement of the theatre at that time. In terms of universal configuration, the theatre consisted of two parts — the auditorium and the stage. At the bottom of the stage was a place called cellarage, which was usually the entrance to the stage when actors were ready to perform. Directly above the stage was a balcony-like place where actors could change their costumes and make up. There were three levels of spectators around the stage, and the audience on the first floor directly opposite the stage is generally was the place for civilians. ‘They will pay ?5 to come to the theatre and stand and watch.’ (layout of the Globe, para. 4) This excerpt showed that there were no seats on the ground floor for people who came here. But the second and third floors were generally for aristocrats to see dramas.
Compared with the aristocrats who could sit comfortably upstairs and see drama quietly, the paupers on the first floor were pathetic. Besides that, theater equipment was often expensive, and it could be very expensive to have a stage designer. What’s more, some theaters were often destroyed. Modern theatres are free of odd designs of different classes given different treatments, but for the most part they are as they were in Shakespeare’s time. Just as the saying goes, ‘a change in form but not in content’. Although today’s theaters have changed the shape of the theater and added many high-tech configurations, the basic requirements for theatre setting remain unchanged. In other words, people assert that everyone should improve what the theatre used to be, rather than demolish it altogether. This shows that people are what the theatre of Kili used to be, to create a theatre of today. And as theatres are giving modern entertainment a better place to show, people can do more to promote the development of modern entertainment. The cinema, for example, is a derivative of the old theatre. Theatres in Shakespeare’s time were the basis for arranging modern entertainment available on a wider stage.
From the other side, people’s preferences are the most important thing in driving the flow of entertainment. People’s preferences determine where the mainstream of contemporary film and television would go, so was the audience’s preferences’ huge impact on modern entertainment in Shakespeare’s time. In Shakespeare’s day, there were only a few major leisure activities: books, plays, music, and the Colosseum. Since riding and archery were skills that were generally necessary and expensive for everyone, people other than the aristocracy in many cases did not consider them a pastime. In comparison, only drama was an entertainment that could be consumed by common people and nobles. In fact, in the existing literature, most of the literature records that plays were not popular. ‘During the reign of Elizabeth I, Theaters were still escorted within the city walls of London (even though the Queen enjoyed the theater and frequently saw performances in person).'(How Shakespeare Changed Perceptions of the Theater, para. 2) This could be due to prejudices against actors, a thriving but unpopular profession. But this did not affect people’s love for drama. When it came to what kind of play they like, the answer would mostly be historical plays. For example, Shakespeare wrote many tragedies in his life, but historical plays were the most popular during his lifespan. It was sarcastic that his play Helmet, which in his own willing was intended to be famous as a play, wasn’t known as a brilliant work of literature to people until 40 years after his death. It’s almost as if diamonds, which are supposed to be the jewel of the mining industry, are more famous for being displayed at weddings. The audience’s pursuit to history made the aristocracy gradually accept the existence of drama, after all, history can consolidate the position of contemporary government. This facilitated their better governance and development. But at the same time, other dramas were quietly growing. Because they were not popular with the contemporary people, they would seek more elaborate scripts. They were then gradually discovered and matured into modern entertainment films, plays and cartoons. All of these are the needs created by the evolving process of people’s hobbies and needs. So the choice of people’s first hobbies also made an important contribution to modern entertainment.
To sum up, in Shakespeare’s time, the harsh treatment of actors, the design of theaters and the choice of comedy types became the most important cornerstones of modern entertainment.
- None. “Shakespeare and Gender: the ‘Woman’s Part’.” The British Library, The British Library, 10 Feb. 2016, www.bl.uk/shakespeare/articles/shakespeare-and-gender-the-womans-part.
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- Wells, Stanley. ‘Shakespeare, William (1564-1616).’ Poets: American and British, edited by Ian Scott-Kilvert, vol. 3, Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1998, pp. 1245-1288. Scribner Writers on GVRL, go.galegroup.com/ps/i.do?p=GVRL&sw=w&u=nysl_ca_queen&v=2.1&id=GALE%7CCX1386100067&it=r&asid=3e6a96b6f83aee56fbda50cb989068fc. Accessed 6 Mar. 2017.
- None. “Elizabethan Actors.” Elizabethan Actors, 2017, www.elizabethan-era.org.uk/elizabethan-actors.htm.
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