|Two kinds of playhouses -- open-air,
public structures & indoor, private structures. The former were cheaper and
offered afternoon performances. The later were smaller , more select, and therefore
more expensive. After 1610, troupes sometimes performed in the public houses in
summer and the private ones in winter. The larger playhouses could seat 2,000 to
3,000. Theatres had a variety of shapes -- round, square, five or eight-sided.
Pit or yard: The central space uncovered by a roof and
surrounded by tiers of roofed galleries
Galleries: three-tiered, roofed audience seating
that also formed the outer walls of the playhouse.
Large platform stage jutting into the center of the
Stage doors: The stage house had two doors to
facilitate continuos action in the play.
Cellarage: Cellar space below the stage that could
be opened to allow something to arise from below.
Discovery space: Named "the pavilion,"
"the inner below" or "the study". Either a space recessed into
the back wall and covered by a curtain or jutting into the stage and covered with three
curtains. It served as a place to indicate locale or to introduce a surprise turn of
'The Inner Above" or Pavilion proper: The
second floor acting area in the stage house which consisted of a narrow balcony, a
curtained alcove similar to the discovery space below it, and was likely flanked with two
"On the top": The space above the second
floor upper stage eye-level with the third-level gallery tier.
The troupe could use six different locales to stage the
action: 1) the main platform with the back curtain closed; 2) the lower discovery space;
3) the upper stage balcony and/or 4) the upper alcove curtain opened; 5) the cellarage; or
6) the top space across from the third gallery.
Influence on the Shape of Shakespeare's Plays
Since the theatre is open-air, the play must begin
with something to draws the audience's attention away from games and meals.
The ending is often a monologue or song to allow the
rest of the cast to exit the stage.
Scenes tend to clear the cast. They exit one door, as
the actors for the next scene come on stage.
The actors must describe for the audience where they
are since the stage has no painted scenery and little props.
Costumes tend to be lavish and spectacle is
accomplished through pageantry and dances.
Shakespeare's plays can expect to draw on the number
of locales in which to stage action.