How the Medieval Period Impacted Elizabethan Period Theater Essay

How the Medieval Period Impacted Elizabethan Period Theater Essay

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This semester we covered many time periods and learned about theater life, playwrights, and play genres which were all very interesting and I learned a lot. There are only two eras I felt more interest in discussing for my final term paper the Medieval period and the Elizabethan period. So I decided to discuss how the Medieval period theatre impacted the Elizabethan period theatre. I found that Elizabethan theater was heavily influenced by the Medieval theater in several ways including: the influence of the kinds of plays, the influence of the concepts in different genres, the performance aspect itself along with staging and religious and political controversies. Throughout my paper I will discuss these influences of the Medieval period on the Elizabethan period in more detail.

Medieval theatre refers to theatre in the time period between the fall of the Western Roman Empire in the 5th century A.D. and the beginning of the Renaissance in approximately the 15th century A.D. Medieval theatre covers all drama produced in Europe over that thousand year period. English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, refers to the theatre of England, largely based in London, which occurred between 1567 and 1642. To understand the transition from medieval theatre into Elizabethan theatre we must first understand medieval theatre.

Medieval theatre covered a variety of genres including liturgical drama, mystery and morality plays, farces, and masques. Medieval dramas for the most part were very religious and moral in their themes, staging, and traditions. So in turn two of the most prominent play genres were morality and mystery. Mystery plays were stories from the Bible made into performances and were heavily religiou...


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...hich were moveable stages that often were carried across great cities but the size of the stage itself on the wagons was very small. Most of the plays could be seen in cities, halls of nobility, and in the round of amphitheaters. All medieval stage productions were temporary and had to be moved after finishing the performance. This differed from the Elizabethan era in the way that it presented various actions on stage in time and space and presented a combination of the detailed realism but as medieval theater later developed, the dramas were no longer strictly liturgical. This allowed the performers to open up the imagination of the audiences without fear of religious traditions trapping their minds so they enhanced costumes, props and characters. Elizabethan era introduced a new way of casting their actors for theater, they developed troupes of acting companies.


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