Shakespearean Theatre


  1. The Elizabethan Era
  2. William Shakespeare
  3. Christopher Marlowe
  4. Shakespearean Theatre
  5. Shakespeare as a Contemporary
  6. Sources

The Arts during the Elizabethan Age

  • The Queen had a fondness for the arts.
  • drama flourished during that era.
  • The Queen frequently served as a motif (i.e appears allegorially in Faerie Queen).
  • resurgent  confidence and nationalism invigorated cultural achievements.
  • production of certain plays spurred discontent and attempted sabotage amongst the puritans, which deemed them "sordid".
  • 1580 endeavor by Mayor of London to close the Theaters was deterred by the Privy Council, citing her Royal Majesty´s fondness for plays.
  • engendered the implementation of drama as a subject into most of the sophisticated boys´ schools.

Elizabethan Theatre


  • Soliloquies
  • Asides
  • Masques
  • Eavesdropping
  • Presentational Acting Style
  • histrionic dialogues
  • play-within-a-play

Production Process

  • approbation by a company was a prerequisite
  • certain characters & parts were composed for specific actors

notable personalities

  • Elizabethan era engendered an array of influencial artists, the most acclaimed of whom include:
  • Christopher Marlowe (playwright)
  • Edmund Spenser (poet)
  • Francis Bacon (philosopher)
  • many artists at the time enjoyed the patronage of members of the elizabethan court.

Elizabeth´s influence on Shakespeare

  • taking a position vis-á-vis the woman monarch was mandatory at the time.
  • the Queen, as a contemporary, epitomized a new feminity, marked by a stalwart autonomy
  • less conspicuous incorporation of the Queen's persona than that of his poetic counterparts (i.e Spenser's Faerie Queene)     
  •      Shakespearean plays intimating at Elizabeth include:
  • Rosalind and Viola
  •   As You Like It 
  •  Twelfth Night

Shakespeare´s influence on Elizabethan Culture

  • intellectuals such as Shakespeare were abhored by the middle class, as those feared the lower class to errupt in vice and umbrage in response to the delicate content of the plays.

  • for the first time in England the illiterate class was granted access to the arts, which up until that point had remained a perquisite of the affluent. 

Elizabethan culture

  • Society was segregated into distinct groups, distinguished by social status and affluence.
  • majority of "Commoners" were illiterate.
  • initially theatre was exclusively targeted at the erudite class.
  • girls were denied education, unless of aristocratic descent.
  • female characters were portrayed by young men, or adolescent boys.
  • no absolute grammar structure for the English language had been established at that time.
  • Latin predominated in educational facilities.

William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

– english poet, playwright, actor

– „Greatest writer in the english language“

– his work consists of 38 plays, 154 sonnets

– plays have been translated into every major language

– „Englands national poet“ „The Bard of Avon“

– born: 23 April 1564 in Stratford-Upon-Avon

– wife: Anne Hathaway => 3 children

– Between 1585 and 1592: Beginning of his career in London

– part owner of the playing company „The Lord Chamberlains Men“

– Later he moved back to his hometown

– death: 23. April 1616

Most famous plays

  • Hamlet, 
  • Macbeth,
  •  Julius Caesar, 
  • Romeo and Juliet, 
  • Much Ado About Nothing

Most famous quotes

  • „To be, or not to be: that is the question.“ (Hamlet)
  • „O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou Romeo?“ (Romeo and Juliet)
  • „But, for my own part, it was Greek to me.“ (Julius Caesar)

Christopher Marlowe

  • Born February 26, 1564 in Canterbury, United Kingdom
  • Informally known as "Kit Marlowe"
  • Attended Kings School of Canterbury
  • Obtained scholarship at the                                          Corpus Christi College of Cambridge
  • Purportedly operated as a spy for Sir Francis Walsingham's intelligence service
  • Deceased May 30, 1593; (annual festival of Hecate) in Deptford, United Kingdom

  • erudite but supercillious individual
  • held M.A in theology
  • translator, poet, playwright
  • most distinguished tragedian of his time
  • arcane character
  • homosexual
  • plethoric
  • controversial

Literary contributions

  • literary career  lasted for 6 yrs.
  • introduction of the blankverse (i.e Iambic pentameter = a line comprised of ten syllables in which each unstressed syllable is superceeded by a stressed one.

"Not marching now in fields of Trasimene,

Where Mars did mate the Carthaginians,"

  • creation of the contemporary tragedy

  • incorporation of comic scenes spawned unprecedented stylistic amalgam
  • spurred universal consciousness                    
  • --> engendered patriotic - counter - nationalist literature and sentiment
  • crafted witty paragon of female learning


Famous Works by Christopher Marlowe:

"Tamburlaine"; (1578)

"The Jew of Malta"; (1589 - 1590)

"Dr Faustus"; (1592)

"Edward II"; (1593)

"The Massacre at Paris."; (1593)

  • renowned for exotic far - flung settings


  • arrested by Privy Council on accounts of alleged coin forging and heresy.
  • fatally stabbed between the eyes by Ingram Frizer   ( alleged secret agent) during espionage  symposium. 

Marlowe & Shakespeare

Some suspect certain acts, officially attributed to Shakespeare, to have been written either wholly or partially  by Christopher Marlowe:

  •  [Henry VI, Parts I, II, and III, Robert III] 
Patent stylistic parallels

Numerous Marlowean characters "morphed" into those of Shakespeare

  • Tamburlaine and Titus, Barabas and Shylock etc.
  • “The poems are full of echoes of each other, theme, arguments, phrases, whole passages." (Harper & Row)

  • exact stylometric accordance
  • shared fondness for the "Pyrrhic foot"
  • tripartite dramatic structure (i.e plot, overplot, subplot)
  • Δhapax legomena = 1%

Shakespearean Theatre

The Globe & other Playhouses

Public playhouses:

– elizabethan term for a theatre

– built during the 16th century by James Burbage

– main stage: people watched the play from 3 different perspectives

rear stage:

-doors and curtains imply interiors

 upper stage:

-Used for the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet

– people were screaming, eating, drinking


People with less money stood in the „pit“, affluent citizens sat in the „galleries“

– stage consists of a roof to protect the actors

– plays were only performed during the day

Short Teaser

Shakespeare as a contemporary

  • approx. 3.000 shakespearean neologisms entered the English language.
  • shakespearean brilliance has been renovated in a number of movie adaptations.
  • the Infamous Globe Theatre remains in use until this day.    

   significantly influenced modern pop culture, the most eminent subsume:
  • several Disney productions (i.e The Lion King)
   relvance prevails, due to universalism and ubquitous nature of his themes; 
  • class division, racism, sexuality, intolerance, the role and status of women, crime, war, death, disease

Modern Artistical Adaptations

  • modern adaptations predominantly abstain from the use of Elizabethan costumes
  • utilisation of props is restricted to a modicum
Latest Interpretations encompass:
  • vocal performance by soprano Anna Prohaska & orchestra 
  • instrumental adaptation entitled "Homage to Shakespeare"

5 reasons why our love for Shakespeare will never fade

  1.  His plays touch on timeless themes such as love, friendship and vengeance.
  2. The characters are fallible and real.
  3. His plays are full of quotable quotes.
  4. Repository of commonly used phrases and words today.
  5. Gave voice to those marginalised at the time.

Everyday Shakespearean Insults

  • Thou cream-faced loon
  • Thou art as loathsome as a toad
  • Peace, ye fat guts! 
  • I do desire we may be better strangers
  • Thou art as fat as butter
  • There's no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune

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Public - 6/13/16, 3:13 PM