Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Some Facts About Early Theatre

The first permanent English theatre, the ‘Red Lion’ opened in 1567 but it was a short-lived failure. The first successful theatres, such as The Theatre, opened in 1576.

2.Their construction was prompted when the Mayor and Corporation of London first banned plays in 1572 as a measure against the plague, and then formally expelled all players from the city in 1575. This prompted the construction of permanent playhouses outside the jurisdiction of London, in the liberties of Halliwell/Holywell in Shoreditch and later the Clink, and at Newington Butts near the established entertainment district of St. George’s Fields in rural Surrey. The Theatre was constructed in Shoreditch in 1576 by James Burbage with his brother-in-law John Brayne (the owner of the unsuccessful Red Lion playhouse of 1567) and the Newington Butts playhouse was set up, probably by Jerome Savage, some time between 1575 and 1577. 
3.The Theatre was rapidly followed by the nearbyCurtain Theatre (1577), the Rose (1587), the Swan (1595), the Globe (1599), the Fortune (1600), and the Red Bull(1604).
4.Thomas Middleton’s A Game at Chess ran for nine straight performances in August 1624 before it was closed by the authorities—but this was due to the political content of the play and was a unique, unprecedented, and unrepeatable phenomenon. 
5.One distinctive feature of the companies was that they included only males. Female parts were played by adolescent boy players in women’s costume. Performances also occurred in the afternoon since no artificial lighting existed. When the light did begin to fade, candles were lit so that the play could continue until its end. Plays contained little to no scenery as the scenery was described by the actors through the course of the play.
6.Sumptuary laws  are laws that try to regulate consumption. Black's Law Dictionary defines them as "Laws made for the purpose of restraining luxury or extravagance, particularly against inordinate expenditures for apparel, food, furniture, etc." Historically, they were intended to regulate and reinforce social hierarchies and morals through restrictions on clothing, food, and luxury expenditures, often depending on a person's social rank.

Societies have used sumptuary laws for a variety of purposes. They were used to try to regulate the balance of trade by limiting the market for expensive imported goods. They made it easy to identify social rank and privilege, and as such could be used for social discrimination.

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7.Playwrights dealt with the natural limitation on their productivity by combining into teams of two, three, four, and even five to generate play texts; the majority of plays written in this era were collaborations, and the solo artists who generally eschewed collaborative efforts, like Jonson and Shakespeare, were the exceptions to the rule. Dividing the work, of course, meant dividing the income; but the arrangement seems to have functioned well enough to have made it worthwhile. (The truism that says, diversify your investments, may have worked for the Elizabethan play market as for the modern stock market.) Of the 70-plus known works in the canon of Thomas Dekker, roughly 50 are collaborations; in a single year, 1598, Dekker worked on 16 collaborations for impresario Philip Henslowe, and earned £30, or a little under 12 shillings per week—roughly twice as much as the average artisan’s income of 1s. per day. At the end of his career, Thomas Heywood would famously claim to have had “an entire hand, or at least a main finger” in the authorship of some 220 plays. A solo artist usually needed months to write a play (though Jonson is said to have done Volpone in five weeks); Henslowe’s Diary indicates that a team of four or five writers could produce a play in as little as two weeks. Admittedly, though, the Diary also shows that teams of Henslowe’s house dramatists—Anthony Munday, Robert Wilson, Richard Hathwaye, Henry Chettle, and the others, even including a young John Webster—could start a project, and accept advances on it, yet fail to produce anything stageworthy. (Modern understanding of collaboration in this era is biased by the fact that the failures have generally disappeared with barely a trace; for one exception to this rule .

8.The Worshipful Company of Stationers and Newspaper Makers (until 1937 the Worshipful Company of Stationers), usually known as the Stationers' Company, is one of the livery companies of the City of London. The Stationers' Company was formed in 1403; it received a royal charter in 1557. It held a monopoly over the publishing industry and was officially responsible for setting and enforcing regulations until the enactment of the Statute of Anne, also known as the Copyright Act of 1710. Once the company received its charter, “the company’s role was to regulate and discipline the industry, define proper conduct and maintain its own corporate privileges.”

9.Sonnet :23 by Shakespeare 

As an unperfect actor on the stage,

Who with his fear is put besides his part,
Or some fierce thing replete with too much rage,
Whose strength’s abundance weakens his own heart;
So I, for fear of trust, forget to say
The perfect ceremony of love’s right,
And in mine own love’s strength seem to decay,
O’ercharged with burthen of mine own love’s might.
O, let my books be then the eloquence
And dumb presagers of my speaking breast;
Who plead for love, and look for recompense,
More than that tongue that more hath more express’d.
O, learn to read what silent love hath writ:
To hear with eyes belongs to love’s fine wit.
10.   HAMLET ON ACTING, THEATRE.... ๐Ÿ‘‡


In his very first scene, Hamlet polices the boundaries between performance and reality. When his worried mother asks why his grief ‘seems ... so particular’ (1.2.75) with him, Hamlet ignores her main point (why does he grieve more intensely than other bereaved sons?) and snatches at the idea of ‘seeming’:

Seems, madam? nay, it is, I know not ‘seems.’
’Tis not alone my inky cloak, [good] mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forc’d breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, [shapes] of grief,
That can [denote] me truly. These indeed seem,
For they are actions that a man might play,
But I have that within which passes show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.’ (1.2.76–86)

William Shakespeare, in his many plays, produced a large number of quotes on the subject of acting.

Quotes๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡๐Ÿ‘‡

  • If it be true that good wine needs no bush, 'tis true that a good play needs no epilogue.
  • Like a dull actor now,
    I have forgot my part, and I am out,
    Even to a full disgrace.
    • Coriolanus (c. 1607-08), Act V, scene 3, line 40.
  • Out, out, brief candle!
    Life's but a walking shadow,
    A poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage, and then is heard no more:
    it is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
    • Macbeth (c. 1605), Act V, Scene 5, line 23.
  • As in a theatre, the eyes of men,
    After a well-grac'd actor leaves the stage,
    Are idly bent on him that enters next,
    Thinking his prattle to be tedious.
  • I can counterfeit the deep tragedian;
    Speak and look back, and pry on every side,
    Tremble and start at wagging of a straw,
    Intending deep suspicion.
  • A beggarly account of empty boxes.
  • And, like a strutting player, whose conceit
    Lies in his hamstring, and doth think it rich
    To hear the wooden dialogue and sound
    'Twixt his stretch'd footing and the scaffoldage.

Hamlet (1600-02)

  • Good, my lord, will you see the players well bestowed? Do you hear, let them be well used; for they are the abstract and brief chronicles of the time: after your death you were better have a bad epitaph than their ill report while you live.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 545.
  • Is it not monstrous that this player here,
    But in a fiction, in a dream of passion,
    Could force his soul so to his own conceit
    That from her working all his visage wann'd.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 577.
  • What's Hecuba to him, or he to Hecuba,
    That he should weep for her? What would he do.
    Had he the motive and the cue for passion
    That I have? He would drown the stage with tears.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 585.
  • I have heard
    That guilty creatures sitting at a play,
    Have, by the very cunning of the scene,
    Been struck so to the soul that presently
    They have proclaim'd their malefactions;
    For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak.
    With most miraculous organ.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 617.
  • The play's the thing
    Wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king.
    • Act II, scene 2, line 633.
  • Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly on the tongue; but if you mouth it, as many of your players do, I had as lief the town-crier spoke my lines. Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus, but use all gently; for in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, the whirlwind of passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness.
    • Act III, scene 2, line 1.
  • Suit the action to the word, the word to the action, with this special observance, that you o'erstep not the modesty of nature.
    • Act III, scene 2, line 19.
  • O, there be players that I have seen play, and heard others praise, and that highly, not to speak it profanely, that, neither having the accent of Christians nor the gait of Christian, pagan, nor man, have so strutted and bellowed that I have thought some of nature's journeymen had made men and not made them well, they imitated humanity so abominably.
    • Act III, scene 2, line 32.

A Midsummer Night's Dream (c. 1595-96)Edit

  • Come, sit down, every mother's son, and rehearse your parts.
    • Act III, scene 1, line 74.
  • Is there no play,
    To ease the anguish of a torturing hour?
    • Act V, scene 1, line 36.
  • A play there is, my lord, some ten words long,
    Which is as brief as I have known a play;
    But by ten words, my lord, it is too long,
    Which makes it tedious.
    • Act V, scene 1, line 61.

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