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Influences Of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

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Theater 210

Professor Mitchell

Influences of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603)

The Elizabethan Era is the period associated with the reign of Queen Elizabeth I (1558-1603) and is often considered to be a golden age in English history. It was the height of the English Renaissance, and saw the flowering of English literature and poetry. Queen Elizabeth had a big role concerning what the theatre was allowed to perform. All plays that were performed in London had to be approved first by the Queen. This was also the time during which Elizabethan theatre grew and William Shakespeare, among others, composed plays that broke away from England's past style of plays. The Queen was very fond of Shakespeare's work, and supported him fully. It was an age of expansion and exploration abroad, while at home the Protestant Reformation was established and successfully defended against the Catholic powers of the Continent.

The Elizabethan age is viewed so highly in part because of the contrasts with the periods before and after. It was a brief period of largely internal peace between the English Reformation and the battles between Protestants and Catholics and the battles between parliament and the monarchy that would engulf the seventeenth century. The Protestant/Catholic divide was settled, for a time, by the Elizabethan Religious Settlement and parliament was still not strong enough to challenge royal absolutism.

A Change that was made under the rule of Queen Elizabeth was the stage, which Elizabethan plays were performed was essentially a platform surrounded on three sides by the audience, only the rear being open for entrances, exits, and seating for musicians to accompany the frequent songs. The first purpose-built theatre for plays in England since Roman times was The Theatre, built in Shoreditch by James Burbage in 1576, and was rapidly followed by the nearby Curtain Theatre. By 1600, there were several theatres, each with an upper level which could be used as a balcony, as in Romeo and Juliet, or as a position for an actor to harangue a crowd as in Julius Caesar.

One distinctive feature of the companies was that they included only males. Until the reign of Charles II, female parts were played by adolescent boys in women's costume.

The theatre was very different in the 1600's compare to now. During the Elizabethan time, theatres were usually outdoors and very bare. It had little or no scenery; hence, acting companies had to rely on the imaginations of their audiences, and it was done by the words of the plays. The words of the play had to establish what time of day it was. The plays took place outdoors while it was still light out. One example is "The iron tongue of midnight



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