Shakespeare in c ontext
Publié le 21/07/2023
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s ha kes pea r e
c on te xt
The English Renaissance context 2.
The development of English drama 3.
The English Renaissance worldview 4.
The drivers of Shakespearean drama 5.
Recap The English Renaissance Context "Renaissance," debated word in England fi But useful to de ne what made Shakespeare possible in British history The English Renaissance Context Major struggle for power in Britain, from 1399 to 1485 (Battle of Bosworth) War of the Roses, opposing two noble houses, each with a rose as emblem: House of Lancaster Henry Tudor House of York Richard III House of Lancaster House of York + Henry Tudor Elizabeth of York R.III’s niece E.IV’s daughter House of Tudor Henry VII Keyword Tudor (adjective) = relating to the period of the royal Tudor dynasty - ruled 1485 (Henry VII) to 1603 (death of Elizabeth I) Shakespeare born in 1564 in Tudor England, during rule of Elizabeth I (1558-1603) Keyword Elizabethan Age (noun) = relating to the period of Queen Elizabeth I's rule (1558-1603); grand-daughter of H.VII High point of British Renaissance, with mostly peaceful times and strong economic growth, making development of arts possible Nicholas Hilliard (1547-1619) Goldsmith and portraitist Elizabeth I, The Pelican Portrait c.1575 (Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool) The development of British drama Took form in Middle Ages, with religious origins, then court entertainment Two types of religious / sacred Medieval plays: Morality plays and Mystery plays Sacred and secular drama Main form of medieval Church drama: Mystery plays (England), with equivalents in Germany, France, Italy and Spain Also called Miracle Plays (though more about lives of saints and miracles they performed) Sacred and secular drama fi At rst, mystery plays written for performance by priests and choirboys in churches, then expanded to include other men (craftsmen...), but not women (not allowed to perform) Sacred and secular drama First about life and death of Christ, then expanded to include other stories from the Bible, especially dramatic ones (Noah's Ark, Jonah and the Whale, Daniel and the lions...) Consequences: cast grew, more space needed, plays moved outside of church building to public space of streets and squares Sacred and secular drama Once outside, plays developed into larger events with mobile stages on carts going through town in a procession fi Involved guilds of craftsmen and merchants according to their trade (shipbuilders would perform Noah's Ark play, sh merchants for Jonah and the whale...) Sacred and secular drama Once plays left the church, they became more complex, with more stage properties (props), costumes and sets on pageant wagons Even introduced comic scenes, with the devil and other demons playing tricks on characters, combining religious drama and entertainment Illustration: David Gee engraving of 15th century mystery play (based on written accounts) in A Dissertation on the Pageants or Dramatic Mysteries Performed at Coventry by Trading Companies of that City 1825 Sacred and secular drama York Cycle of 48 mystery plays revived in 20th century, still performed today Cast of York Mystery Plays, York, 2012 Sacred and secular drama Related festival with public performance: Feast of Fools, in which the high-ranking and the low-ranking would play each other's roles in a great reversal of the usual hierarchy Held in January, originally perhaps expressing humility for high ranking church members, exchanging roles with younger and lower ones (probably inspired by Roman Saturnalia) Sacred and secular drama But by 13th century had become parody of Church worship, with the election of a young person as Lord of Misrule / mock bishop or pope, and others acting the traditional ceremonies in a mocking way inside church Also led to dancing and drinking and general disorder outside the church buildings Sacred and secular drama Church condemned it and banned parts of it, but Feast of Fools tradition continued in England and France until 16th century Shakespeare refers to it in Twelfth Night, 1601; Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris novel, 1831, opens with a Feast of Fools scene where Quasimodo, the hunchback, is elected Pope of Fools (story takes place in 1482) Louis Boulanger, engraving illustration for Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris, 1878 Sacred and secular drama Second main type of medieval play called Morality play (developed around 12th century and peaked in 1400s - 1500s) = plays about battle between good and evil in the human mind / soul (contrast with pageants) Typical plot: Youth meets Justice, Honesty and other virtues, but then vices come to tempt Youth and a battle for his soul follows Sacred and secular drama Earliest example (from Germany): Hildegard of Bingen, Ordo Virtutum, c.1151 = "Order of the Virtues" Play with music and singing, about a human soul caught between the Virtues and the Devil Sacred and secular drama Best known morality play: Anonymous, Everyman, 15th century Anonymous, photograph of 20th century staging of Everyman Sacred and secular drama Although often attacked by Church, Feast of Fools and comic scenes between serious religious plays kept western secular drama and other performing arts alive in Middle Ages Mimes, acrobats, storytellers, entertainment dancers did not disappear, but traveled throughout Europe and kept ancient traditions alive, until conditions became better for them The development of British drama After 1517, religious drama stops in Britain, as a result of the Reformation, but not entertainment at court Musicians, jesters, actors hired by Kings and Queens for entertainment The development of British drama Until 1570s, plays had no home, no theaters, only played at court, or outside in courtyards, often in wagons: Denijs van Alsloot The Triumph of the Archduchess Isabella in the Brussels Ommeganck (detail) 1615 The development of British drama First theater built in 1576, called The Theatre.
17 more built in next 16 years. Hence need for actors and new plays fi In context of booming theater entertainment, Shakespeare arrives in London ( rst reference from 1592: "upstart crow") The development of British drama Not much about Shakespeare's life before known in London and becomes major force in.... »
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