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The Elizabethan Theatre
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Shakespeare Theatre

Shakespeare’s plays, just like any other kind of play, were not written to be read; they were written to be seen on the stage. If you get the chance to see the play you are studying performed, this will help you to appreciate it much more than simply reading it. If you cannot see it live on the stage, then at least try to see a video recording of it. This will really bring the action to life and make it mean much more to you. However, it is worth bearing in mind that in Shakespeare’s time the theatres were very different from the ones we have today and the way the plays were performed was different too. Here are some key differences:

  • There was no lighting in the theatres and so the plays were performed in daylight. This meant that there were no lighting effects, although sometimes music and songs were used to create a particular atmosphere.
  • The actors used few props and costumes.
  • There were no female actors and so the female roles were played by boys.
  • The theatre was a much rowdier place than it is now. Many of the audience watched the play, standing in a crowd in front of the stage and they often drank beer and ate while watching the play.
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