Friday, July 17, 2020

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MODERN AND ELIZABETHAN THEATRE!

DIFFERENCES BETWEEN MODERN AND ELIZABETHAN THEATRE!


Theatre has evolved in copious amounts since the Elizabethan era. Though there is huge contrast in the Elizabethan versus Modern theatre, modern theatre could not have evolved without it. The fact that modern play writs still reference Elizabethan tactics in production, proves that such an era was essential to modern day theatres evolution. Along such evolutions though, we have also left many traditions in the past. Such instances are evident in the following:

In Modern theatre, men and women are active in all theatre production. However back in Elizabethan era, women were not allowed such a career. Men were often looked at as superior over women, and therefore a career in such a public setting, was not open to a female cast. Men played male and female roles in all theatre productions, often with teenage boys playing the roles of women, due to their not fully developed stature and build.

Another difference between Elizabethan and Modern theatre is that Elizabethan theatre was much more audience interactive. The cheaper seats were right in front of the stage- usually where the poor stood. This created a very interactive theatre as audience members could reach out and touch actors, talk to them, and comment on the play. It is said that if the audience did not enjoy aspects of the play, that rotten food would be thrown. This is much different than modern day, where attending performing arts is that of a formal event.

In relation to the Elizabethan theatre being more interactive, Elizabethan stage was more open and accessible to the audience. Rather than in modern day, where stages are often risen above a sitting crowd, with enclosed walls that portray a frame like moving picture. The Elizabethan stage is close to the ground, the actors performing on a platform easily accessible by all audience members. Attendees in the Elizabethan era could stand on three sides of the platform.

Modern day theatre also has advanced technology compared to the Elizabethan era. In modern theatre, performances are enhanced by microphones, which enhance the audiences ability to hear and understand all the performers have to say. Stage lights also enhance the theatrical experience, as they can direct and redirect light for audience members to focus on certain aspects. The stage lights can also hide stage and prop changes. Music is also an enormous factor when it comes to performing. Although musicians were present, modern day theatre has access to sound effects, and any kind of music, at any given moment. The projection of sound from live musicians would also project more efficiently in modern theatre. The projection of sound would not be as effective as the theatres were open arenas, which allowed for background noise and a lack of amplifying of sound within 

We can definitely add more to this list.  First, a recap.  Yes, the roles in Elizabethan theater were performed by men while the audiences were of both genders.  Yes, most plays were written in poetic form instead of in regular prose form.  But there are MORE differences.

Wealthy Patron vs. Producer:  In Elizabethan times, playwrights were beholden to their wealthy patrons in order to have their plays performed on a stage.  Actor's payment, setting, props, costumes, ... they were all dependent on this patron in order for a play to make it to an eventual performance.

Natural Light vs. Electricity:  In Elizabethan times, the plays had to be put on during the middle of the day.  The reason was simple: NO ELECTRICITY.  This caused some definite issues:  more distractions from the audience, less focus on the actors, heat, cold, weather, etc.  There are instances where candles and other lights were used, but it was the natural sunlight that helped the actors be seen.  Modern play, of course, are mostly put on in the evenings and depend fully on electric light.  There is a lot less distraction as a result.

Voice vs. Microphone:  In Elizabethan times, this was truly a conundrum.  An actor having a booming voice was IMPERATIVE to his trade!  Without a voice that carried, the poor groundlings in the back would have NO idea what was going on.  In short, the production would fail.  Now, a booming voice isn't necessary.  In fact, sometimes, for a more soft-spoken character, it can be an impediment!  The amplification of voice due to modern microphones has been quite a change in theater.

Memory vs. Photography:  In Elizabethan times, all one had to remember a play was one's mind!  There may, once in a blue moon, be a drawing of something or other, but most theater-goers had to depend on their memory to remember character, plot, costume, etc.  There were few true "celebrities" in that the people that performed were heavily costumed.  They might be known, but not worshiped.  These days, we covet the newest photo of the latest star. 

Live vs. Taped:  A play in Elizabethan times was performed live.  Period.  Once the series of performances were over, they were OVER. Movies allowed live performances, as early as the early twentieth century, to be viewed again and again and again.  And apart from movies, even theatrical performances can be taped in order to be sold and/or the soundtracks are most definitely always sold in order to be listened to by the consumer.

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