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Elizabethan Theatre


Elizabethan theatre is a general term covering the plays written and performed publicly in England during the reign (1558 - 1603) of Queen Elizabeth I. The term can be used more broadly to also include theatre of Elizabeth\'s immediate successors, James I and Charles I, until the closure of public theaters in 1642, with the onset of the Civil War.


Elizabethan theater derived from several sources. A crucial source was the mystery plays that were part of religious festivals in England and other parts of Europe during the Middle Ages. The mystery plays were complex retellings of legends based on biblical themes, originally performed in churches but later becoming more linked to the secular celebrations that grew up around religious festivals. Other sources include the morality plays that evolved out of the mysteries, the "University drama" that attempted to recreate Greek tragedy. Later, in the 17th century, the Commedia dell\'arte and the elaborate masques frequently presented at court came to play roles in the shaping of public theater.

Temporary companies of players attached to households of leading noblemen and performing seasonally in various locations existed before the reign of Elizabeth I. These became the foundation for the professional players that performed on the Elizabethan stage. The tours of these players gradually replaced the performances or the mystery and morality plays by local players, and a 1572 law eliminated the remaining companies lacking formal patronage by labeling them as vagabonds. At court as well, the performance of masques by courtiers and other amateurs, apparently common in the early years of Elizabeth, was replaced by the professional companies with noble patrons, who grew in number and quality during her reign.

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Публикувано от: Стефка Видинова

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