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Theatre design in Renaissance England and Spain

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The outdoor theatres assumed round, octagonal and rectangular shapes and varied in size generally sitting two to three thousand people. They were characterised by pits or yards with unroofed spaces that surrounded the stage on three sides but also had roofed galleries. The stage extended to the yard’s center and was raised about six feet. Indoor theatres were smaller, roofed and only sat about a quarter of the audience of outdoor theatres. Stages were mostly similar and the audience sat in private boxes, galleries or pits. Although differences in the physical structures between theatres in the two countries exist, there are more similarities.

Similarities between Renaissance Theatre in England and Spain Architecturally, although less linked to classical examples than in Italy, renaissance theatres in England and Spain were both influenced by Italian practice in a bid to remake the Greek and Roman stages (Allen 1991, p. 14). Further, they both drew from a number of medieval theatre traditions. However, due to the renaissance architects’ limited and ambiguous information of Greek and Roman theaters, their efforts resulted in a new theatre architecture style.

The physical designs of the theatres were influenced by personal concerns in both England and Spain. For example, in Spain the designs were a reflection of concerns such the kings’ divine rights and the personal honour of the public and in England it was the changing economic and political status. A prominent similarity between theatres in the two countries was the development of the proscenium arch, which was a rectangular or curved frame that enclosed the stage, hiding the stage hands and stage machinery (Keenan 2014, p.

74). This development was mainly due to the fact that acting in both countries featured flying commonly. Then, the audiences were organised into at least three levels which were around the outside edge of an open-air space that accommodated a large part of the standing audience. The roofed stages were the centre of the theatres in both cases. They had several levels and the lowest one was used for things such as graves, hosts and devils. Apart from the practical and logical appropriateness of placing these things on the lowest level, it is also a reflection of the cultural values held by the two societies.

The second level comprised of the main stage on which the most significant acts were performed while the third level was a balcony used to depict features such as city walls and mountains.

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preview essay on Theatre design in Renaissance England and Spain
  • Pages: 8 (2000 words)
  • Document Type: Essay
  • Subject: Literature
  • Level: Undergraduate
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