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John Heywood, Playwright: (c. 1497-1580)

•“Look before you leap” “Better late than never” “You’ve hit the nail on the head” “One good turn deserves another” “The More the Merrier” “Out of sight, out of mind”


Shakespearean Verbs Formed from Nouns

To Champion To Elbow To Puke


Theatre Goes Underground:

Tertullian (c. 155-c.240 c.e.) De Spectaculis (On the Spectacles) (c. 200 c.e.) Theatre is deemed “anti-Christian” and a form of “idolatry.” Tertullian objects to emotional responses to actors. Catharsis is dangerous. “For how monstrous to go from God’s house to the devil’s? raise your hands to God and then to weary them in the applauding of an actor”


Theatre at Year Zero: 800 c.e.

Theatricality begins to seep into Christian ritual. Amalarius of Metz speaks of high mass as a “divine drama” We might say that Theatre is resurrected through Easter masses. The “Quem quaeritis?” at Winchester Cathedral, 970 c.e. Another “Thespis Moment”


Fighting Fire with Fire: The Church and the Mystery Plays:

The Catholic Church tries to regain control of theatre by including it in the Corpus Christie Festival (England, Germany, France, Italy, Netherlands, etc.). The “Mystery” Cycles were a series of vignettes from Judeo-Christian lore, from Adam and Eve onwards in biblical order. Different craft guilds were responsible for each scene.


The Morality Play: Everyman and Others

In Morality Plays, the characters are Allegorical figures. In the most famous Morality Play, Everyman (c. 1510), the characters include “Everyman,” “Death,” “Goods,” “Good Deeds,” “Knowledge,” “Discretion,” etc. Remains the most read and performed play in English before the Elizabethan Era (and is in your Norton)


Morality: The Castle of Perseverance (c. 1410)

We see a psychomachia, as the protagonist, “Mankind,” is pushed and pulled by the Virtues (“Humility,” “Chastity,” etc.) and the Vices (“Envy,” “Wrath, etc.). Other characters include “Death,” “Flesh” and “Folly.”


John Bale (1495-1563): Anti-Catholic Morality Plays

A Carmelite Monk who turned against Catholicism, becoming one of the strongest anti-Catholic voices in the England of Henry VIII. Wrote parodic anti-Catholic Morality plays for the Protestant cause. A collector of vestments for costumes: “Let Idolatry be decked like an old witch, Sodomy like a monk of all sects, Ambition like a bishop” Bale is the bridge between Medieval Theatre and the later Tudor (Elizabethan) Theatre.


The New Tudor World (Henry VIII and Elizabeth I):

Dissolution of the Monasteries, friaries, and convents:


Henry VIII bans Miracle Plays

Elizabeth I takes the Throne:

1558 Elizabeth bans the Mystery Plays (the last Cycle is performed in Chester in 1575).

Shakespeare in London by 1592


Elizabeth’s Rule:

Dominant Naval Power • Imperial Conquests • Religious Unrest Kept Under Strict Check. Anglican Protestantism is the state religion. • Censorship. • Public Theatre Carefully Monitored. However, Elizabeth loves the theatre.


One of Elizabeth’s leading playwrights

Shakespeare • Playwright, Actor, Shareholder • 1-2 Plays Per Year • Worked Collaboratively • The Lord Chamberlain’s Men (1593-1603) • The King’s Men (From 1603 under James I)


Lady Jane Lumley (1537-1578):

The first to translate Euripides into English.


Shakespeare and His Friends at the Mermaid Tavern, by John Faed, 1851.

The painting depicts (from left in back) Joshua Sylvester, John Selden, Francis Beaumont, William Camden, Thomas Sackville, John Fletcher (who collaborated with Shakespeare on Henry VIII and The Two Noble Kinsmen), Sir Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, John Donne, Samuel Daniel, Shakespeare, Sir Walter Raleigh, the Earl of Southampton, Sir Robert Cotton, and Thomas Dekker.



a lively dance with leaping movements.



a spectator or reader of inferior taste, such as a member of a theater audience who traditionally stood in the pit below the stage.



relating to the reign of James I of England.


Iambic Pentameter and Blank Verse

A blank verse is a poem with no rhyme but does have iambic pentameter. This means it consists of lines of five feet, each foot being iambic, meaning two syllables long, one unstressed followed by a stressed syllable.


The Lord Chamberlain

The Lord Chamberlain or Lord Chamberlain of the Household is the most senior officer of the Royal Household of the United Kingdom, supervising the departments which support and provide advice to the Sovereign of the United Kingdom while also acting as the main channel of communication between the Sovereign


Sumptuary Laws

are laws that attempt to regulate consumption; Black's Law Dictionary defines them as "Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures in the matter of apparel, food, furniture, etc."








The Unique Elizabethan Public Theatres:


Theatre Customs, 1:

•Performances started at 2 pm. As there were no act breaks, the action was continuous, ending around 4 pm.

•Plays were in repertory: every day would be a different performance.

•The plays ended with a jig, which carried the same significance as a satyr play or kyōgen. (Curtain calls were imported from France after the Restoration in 1660)

—a sketch of The Globe Theatre by the Czech artist Václav Hollar, c. 1638.


Theatre Customs, 2:

•“Each playhouse advanceth his flag in the air, whither quickly at the waving thereof are summoned whole troops of men, women, and children”—William Parkes, The Curtaine-Drawer of the World, 1612.



•Red= History

•Terminology: “Players,” not Actors; “Playhouses” not Theatres; “Poets,” not Playwrights. There are no “directors”


Colors of Tragedy, Comedy, and History

•“Each playhouse advanceth his flag in the air, whither quickly at the waving thereof are summoned whole troops of men, women, and children”—William Parkes, The Curtaine-Drawer of the World, 1612.



•Red= History

•Terminology: “Players,” not Actors; “Playhouses” not Theatres; “Poets,” not Playwrights. There are no “directors”


Theatre as a non-profit

• A For-Profit Enterprise

     • Continuous

     • Not Religious

     • Vs. University Theatre

• Shares System (as a stockholder in the Globe and his company, Shakespeare became wealthy).

• Patronage of Upper Class  Citizens: Shakespeare’s company is first the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, then the King’s Men. Their main rival was the Admiral’s Men.


The Playhouses:

•In 1600, London had a population similar to Madison today, approximately 200,000 people. (The population will have doubled by 1642).

•The Globe and the Rose could seat 3,000 people, up to a 1,000 could stand.

•It is estimated that 15,000 people went to the theatre each week.

•The Public Theatres are democratic. The Indoor Theatres will not be (“more witplay than swordplay”)


Lessons from the Rose Excavation

Sophisticated Draining System. This included a system for handling urine.

• Polygonal Rather Than Octagonal in its construction.

• Slopped Yard for the Groundlings, offering better viewing.

• Hazelnut, Walnut and Oyster Shells Everywhere.


Legal Standing, 3: Patronage as Protection:

•Shakespeare’s company were at first the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, after Henry Carey, First Baron Hunsdon (4th March 1526 – 23rd July 1596), Elizabeth’s cousin.

•The Lord Chamberlain remains the most senior position within the royal household.

•First, through the subsidiary position of the Master of Revels, and then thereafter, with some breaks, the Lord Chamberlain had the power to censor plays and to forbid productions. This power was not revoked until 1968.


Legal Standing, 4: Patronage as Protection:

•After James I ascends the throne, he becomes the company’s patron, and they become the King’s Men.

•The Jacobean Era begins (Jacobean=Jamesian, the era of James). One goes to see theatre.

•The “King James Version” of the Christian Bible is named after his patronage of that project.


The Plays…

•At first, only the most popular plays were published, usually as pirate editions.

•It is estimated that only 1 in 10 plays have survived into the Modern Era. 1, perhaps 2, of Shakespeare’s plays are thought to be missing.

•Betsy Baker destroys over 50 plays in 1720, but made delicious pies.