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THE ELISABETHAN THEATRE
Curtain Theatre (1577)
Red Bull (1604)
PARTS OF THE THEATRE
A NEW ERA FOR THEATRE…
• From 1642 – 1660: "the interregnum." In this period theatre
was outlawed; it was connected with the monarchy and with
"immoral," non-Puritan values.
• The monarchy was restored in 1660. Charles I’s son, Charles II,
restored to the throne. He had been in France during the
Interregnum, in the court of Louis XIV, who loved theatre.
Charles II helped bring French styles and staging to England as
he loved above all Molière and his plays.
• The Drury Lane and Covent Gardens became the first theatres
officially licensed during this period.
• The type of theatre brought back resulted in a sort of protest
against the Puritan ideal, and was designed primarily for the
THE RESTORATION THEATRE
The comedy of manners reflects the
life, ideals and manners of upper class
society. The players must strive to
maintain the mask of social artifice
whilst revealing to the audience what
lies behind such manners. In other
words it is to make: “The real artificial
and the artificial real”.
The large stage area also gave plenty of
room for scenery. The use of scenery
was another technique borrowed from
Italian and French theatre. The
scenery was not used in the same way
it is today, to convey the place the
action is based. It was a large painted
spectacle designed to accompany a
particular phase in the plot, maybe
only changing with each act.
• The Restoration stage was a proscenium theatre with
a deep forestage or apron. There was a proscenium
opening which framed the scenery. The proscenium
layout was very innovative for the time.
• Most of the action took place on the forestage. The
doors on each side allowed the actors to enter and
exit the large stage with versatility.
• The seats were distributed between the pit, boxes,
and galleries. The most expensive seats were in the
private boxes which surrounded the first floor pit. The
cheapest seats were in the two galleries.
WOMEN IN THE THEATRE
• In 1656 the actress Mrs. Coleman took a lead
role, this is noted as the introduction of
women to the English stage.
• Women were allowed on stage also because
young boys had not been trained to play
women adequately while theatre had been
• What problems did theatre managers
encounter when hiring an actress?
• Since acting was still socially unacceptable, it
was often difficult recruiting women to
perform on stage.
• There also were few women's roles in the
plays (primarily the work of Shakespeare) that
most managers staged.
RESTORATION DRAMA AND CHARACHTERS
• Restoration Drama was far inferior to Elizabethan drama.
The early playwrights used powerful, original characters in
their works, whereas restoration writers were happy with
the portrayal of the artificial type.
• The works of playwrighter reflected a small section of life,
with an edge of perfection, similar to that of upper class
• The Ideal Gentleman was well born, dressed well, witty,
skilled in love making, was able to conduct several affairs
simultaneously, was always discreet and never fell in love.
• The Fashionable Young Lady was familiar with the world of
intrigue, If she was a widow (or married to an older man)
she could take a lover, as long as she was not found out. If
she was married, she should not expect constancy in her