Shakespeare's Theatre and the Dramatic Tradition

Shakespeare's Theatre and the Dramatic Tradition

Shakespeare's Theatre and the Dramatic Tradition

Shakespeare's Theatre and the Dramatic Tradition

Excerpt

For many years the characteristics of Shakespeare's stage have excited the interest of scholars. In thousands of pages of learned commentary they have discussed the history of Elizabethan theatres, the physical conditions of the stage, the composition of the companies of actors, the influence of the physical nature of the stage upon the quality of the drama, and scores of related topics. In an area where precise documentary evidence is scanty, many topics have aroused controversies that cannot be resolved dogmatically. For example, blueprints for the original construction of the Globe playhouse do not exist, and our knowledge of it is based on a variety of evidence, much of which is inconclusive.

Though scholars may not agree on every detail of stage construction, they have accumulated enough evidence to permit the reconstruction of a characteristic theatre in its essential outlines. The public theatres were not exact replicas of each other, of course, and the so-called "private" theatres showed many differences. We would do well to remember that, then as now, individual theatres varied considerably in their appointments and equipment, and a generalization about the staging of a play in one theatre may not precisely fit conditions in another. Nevertheless the conditions of staging in all of the public playhouses had a general similarity and certain theatrical practices were common to them all.

Traditionally the English had found pleasure and delight in . . .

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