Have you ever wondered how the theater become so popular? People will think that it was because of Hollywood or some other thing, but it started on the eastern side of the world. There was a movement called the Renaissance, and that movement created theaters and many other things that people enjoy in our modern world. There were many theaters during the Renaissance, but one of the greatest known theaters were the Elizabethan theaters. The Elizabethan theater would not become a spectacular place for entertainment if it was for a new time period, the playwrights, and the theater’s design and features.
These theaters would not have been created or been useful if the Renaissance had never happened. This was a new time period for Europe. The Renaissance took place during the Middle Ages and it started in Italy. The term Renaissance means “rebirth” or “new birth” in French. This was an appropriate name for this time because most people wanted to be free from religion and have a new way of life or in shorter terms – having a “new birth” of life (“Renaissance In Europe: Meaning, Causes, And Results Of Renaissance”).
Causes of The Renaissance. This time period started out because of a situation in Greece. “In 1453 A. D. Muhammad II of Ottoman Empire occupied Constantinople … Out of fear, the Greek intellectuals left Constantinople and entered into different cities of Italy…” (“Renaissance In Europe: Meaning, Causes, And Results Of Renaissance”). This was a very powerful movement. When the Greeks had reached Italy they had shared new ideas with the Italian people. The Greeks had given the Italian people many new ideas about art, history, and many other things. With all these new things that the Romans had learned, they had thought that they should remove themselves from their religion. This movement away from religion was also known as humanism.
Almost everywhere, humanism began as a rather pious, timid, and conservative drift away from medieval Christianity and ended in bold independence of medieval tradition” (“Renaissance Humanism”). Effects of The Renaissance on Theatre. “The torch of theatrical art passed from Greek hands to [the Roman], and it was in Roman hands that the flame was all but extinguished” (Hughes, Glenn pg. 79). The Romans were able to learn a lot from the Greeks, and the Romans were able to pass these ideas from the Greeks to other people that were in France, Spain, England, and other eastern countries. As these ideas were being passed, so was also humanism.
This caused many people to move out of their churches. Humanism made people go toward what other people will do rather than focusing on what their religion had said. The Renaissance and humanism had affected many people including the play writers in many different ways. The Renaissance itself had opened up to many new ideas of writing; like love, believing in other things, etc. These new ideas changed a lot on how people had done things, and for play writers, it changed how the plays were written. “Plays could be used to encourage criticism of the state and freedom of thought in terms of both religion and politics” (Alchin, Linda).
But even though the Renaissance changed many things, it helped to develop theaters and play writers. ELIZABETHAN THEATERS AND ITS PLAYWRIGHTS As this time of rebirth began to expand, so did the buildings of theaters. The Elizabethan theaters became very popular all around Europe. At first, in Europe, there were no theaters that were built, but once the Renaissance began to move, there came an outburst of theaters. There was a total of twenty-five theaters that were built in England considered as the Elizabethan theaters (Alchin, Linda).
The theaters became more popular when famous play writers created and showed off their creations. The Elizabethan Theaters. There were many theaters in England. The most common place for theaters was in London, which was within a reasonable distance of the theater-going people (“Educational Resources | Shakespeare In American Communities”). According to Linda Alchin, some of the theaters were built because of mistakes that happened in the other theaters, “A new theater would be built learning from both the mistakes and successes of the original [theaters]”.
Many theaters were closed for numerous reasons, but it always led to a better and improved new theater. The first theater that was built in 1576 and it was called “Theatre” (Hughes 151). But then in 1599, one of the most known and successful theater, the Globe theater was built. (Hughes 152). The Globe theater is mainly known for all the famous plays that were written by Shakespeare. More information about the Globe and other theaters will be in the section of “Importance of Theaters”. Playwrights (Play Writers). The Renaissance inspired many people to do many new things.
Some of these things were to write books, poems, and plays; but one man, named William Shakespeare, did an outstanding work on poems and plays. “Shakespeare became an actor, writer, and finally part-owner of a playing company, known as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men…” (“Elizabethan Theatres”). Shakespeare was mostly known for his plays like Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, and many others. He had written over 40 plays (“Elizabethan Theatres”). Even though that William Shakespeare was one of the most famous writers during the Renaissance time, there were some other playwrights that did their plays in the Elizabethan theaters.
According to Elizabethan-era. org, it said that there were 6 other men apart from William Shakespeare; some of them are Ben Jonson and Christopher Marlowe. One of the Ben Jonson’s play was The Alchemist, while one of Christopher Marlowe’s play was Dr. Faustus. The plays might not have been as popular as Shakespeare’s plays, but these plays did reflect on many things during the Renaissance like Humanism. The plays are fun to watch, but that is not what made the Elizabethan theaters so special.
IMPORTANCE OF THEATERS Even in an era when popular entertainment included public executions and cock-fighting, theater became central to Elizabethan social life” (“Educational Resources | Shakespeare In American Communities”). Throughout the Renaissance period and time after that, theaters became a new popular place to visit for entertainment. There were many theaters all around Europe, so people had gone to and watch many live performances, including Shakespeare’s plays. The theaters itself had many important things to allow everyone to enjoy the plays. Other Popular Things.
There were many different kinds of entertainment, but the theater became the most important of all. The games that we know now, but were popular back then were chess, checkers, and tennis (Mabillard, Amanda). These entertainment games were very popular that even the queens played too. Another unknown entertainment was bear-baiting and cockfighting (Entertainment At Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre). These entertainments were to watch animals fighting each other, and the people bet on which animal would win. In the bear-baiting, they release a bear and let dogs attack the bear.
In cockfighting, the people bet which bird would kill the other bird. Even though these were popular entertainment, the people always had gone to theaters to play the games and watch the fighting animals, also the entertainment of the fighting was also a little bit introduced in the plays, so the people had never forgotten about the theater. The Theaters’ Features. Many people now look forward to watching the plays, but they also enjoyed what was inside the building.
This is how it was back them. The first thing about the theaters was that when people came in, they only needed to pay a penny and extra pennies for other things. … they pay one penny at the gate, another at the entry of the scaffold…” (Lawrence, William J pg. 10). This pricing allowed for rich and poor people come to watch the play. Most of the theater’s allowed seats, near the stage and on three floors – along with the edge of the circle building, for over one thousand people to watch the play (Alchin, Linda). These theaters have so many things in them – from the parts of the stage to the area for the musicians to the small rooms for the money. These parts made the theaters so enjoyable and make plays look so realistic. About The Plays.
The plays during this time were not like how plays are today. The first thing that makes it different was the lighting during the plays. The plays could have only be played during the afternoons, this was the only time when they could get enough light to see all the actors (“Educational Resources | Shakespeare In American Communities”). Even though that the plays were in the afternoon, this was probably the most common time when people did not hardly any work. Another great thing about the plays was that sometimes people were able to see the creators faces, but the creator is doing a part on the play.
An actor himself, Shakespeare played roles in his own plays, usually as older male characters” (“Educational Resources | Shakespeare In American Communities”). The theaters were fun to watch but there were some bad things. One drawback was that the plays took about two to three hours, which was very uncomfortable for the poor people. Previously described that they could only pay one penny to be near the stage. In some of the theaters, there were no seats in that area so the people had to stand for those two or three hours.
Even though the poorer people had known that they will need to stand, they still came. Theaters became the world’s most popular place to watch plays or movies. Theaters all around the world, including the Elizabethan theaters, would have never become an entertaining place if it was not for the Renascence took place; which brought out famous play writers, and brought people to build the theater. Because of the popularity of playwrights and the features of the theater; plays, theaters, and the Renaissance made the biggest mark in our world’s history!