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Theatre of the English Renaissance

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The playhouses for the public were designed as outdoor theatres, and they were large, whereas, on the other hand, there were private playhouses, which were small theatres, which were located indoors. The outdoor theatre could locate the maximum of 3, 000 spectators, while only 700 of them could fit into an indoor theatre (Picard). In the public playhouse, the audience was groundling, in most cases, for one penny; for two pennies, one could seat. In the private playhouse, all the spectators enjoyed seats. The audiences of public and private theatres did not tremendously differ from each other. Both indoor and outdoor audiences were open to everyone, who could pay for a performance. Audiences in the public-theatre belonged mostly to the poor classes. However, private-theatre spectators pretended to be gentlemen, especially those of them, who had a university education or a noble title (Wilson). In the beginning, the private theatres were situated downtown London only (such as, the First Blackfriars, the Second Blackfriars, the Paul's Playhouse). As for the public theatres, one could only find them outside the city (, the Curtain, the Theatre, the Rose, the Fortune, the Globe, and the Red Bull (Clouston). All this above dramatically affected the plays and the way they were written. The leading features of that time plays were: early point of attack, large numbers and variety of incidents, free usage of time and space, significant range and number of characters, and more importantly – varied language (Wilson).

During the Elizabethan era, there were numerous acting companies. The most famous of the are Earl of Leicester’s Men; Earl of Worcester's Men; The Earl of Warwick's Men; Lord Strange's Men (1559); Earl of Derby's Men, and Lord Hunsdon's Men (Picard). The Queen's Men was created from the companies of Leicester's Men, Oxford's Men, Sussex's Men. One of the most prominent was Lord Chamberlain’s Men. William Shakespeare was a founding member. He wrote for this acting company for most of his life, but performing only secondary roles. All the lead roles remained for Richard Burbage. Actors were paid by the court, yearly fee plus other expenses (Wilson). In 1603, Lord Chamberlain’s Men became the King’s Men, until 1642 (Picard).

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