The Elizabethan Theatre - Theathre as the mirror of life
The influence of Medieval tradition
From the medieval Mystery and moralist Plays there were certain innovations :
1) the tendency to think of a play as a kind of animated sermon where the characters and situations are allegorical types;
2) scenes of vivid caricature and realistic comedy;
3) the mingling of comedy and tragedy;
4)the idea of men’s place inside an ordered universe;
5) the concept of the mutability of fortunes and the influence of the stars.
The classic influence
The English theatre drew from:
1) the Italian “commedia dell’arte ”;
2) the works of Machiavelli in the display of horrors, unnatural crimes, vice and corruption;
3) the Latin poet and philosopher Seneca in the division of the play into a five acts in the tragic and bloody incidents; 4) Thomas Kyd’s very popular the “Spanish tragedy” with Machiavellian ingredients such as intrigues, lies and villains.
The structure of theatre
Were circular or octagonal. With roofed galleries (gallerie coperte), that looking down on the stage (palco) and the yard (cortile), where the poorer spectators stood. The stage, or apron stage, jutted out into the yard. Over the stage there is the shadow or roof that protected players from the rain. The Elizabethan playhouse was small. Of the interior area left between the galleries, the stage occupied almost half. A tiring house the place where the actor changed their attire, was presumably at the rear of the stage behind the stage there was an inner stage (quinte). The Elizabethan stage had no general stage curtain (sipario) there were also an upper stage (scena superiore) hidden by a curtain and a upmost area ( zona più alta) normally used by musicians.
Different by the modern theatre
In the mother theatre actors are separated from the audience by a curtain which conceals or reveals the whole stage. On the apron stage the actor came forward in daylight into the midst of his audience (udienza). The device of the soliloquy (soliloquio) was not artificial, as not artificial as on the modern stage, but quite a natural from of communication as a character explained his thoughts and intentions to those standing in front of him. In the theatre apparently there was no scenery and plays were acted in daylight. The action was continuous. A scene ended when all the actors had gone off the stage and new set of characters came on.