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English Renaissance Theatre: Plays of The Renaissance Period

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Renaissance history plays are also known as early English plays and they mainly refer to William Shakespeare’s plays or plays of other famous people who wrote plays in the past. They may also be referred to as Elizabethan because they were mostly performed during the reign of Queen Elizabeth. Renaissance plays were performed in the medieval times traditions for example the mystery plays and they were mostly performed during religious occasions in England. This was during the middle ages and they mostly had religious themes, performed mostly in churches but sometime later, they were also performed during secular events that came about the religious events. The amateurs of these plays later came to be replaced by professionals. These plays were either performed publicly or privately depending on the social class that one belonged.

The renaissance theatres became more popular with the establishment of public theatres which were large and this was profitable and once they became stable, drama would become more permanent rather than just a passing phase. Archaeological evidences show that the theatres built during this renaissance time were different although they had a common overall plan. The public theatres were built around a large space in the middle and had about three stories upwards. The upper side that was behind the stage could have been used as a balcony like in the play Romeo and Juliet. The theatres were mostly round except for a few. The theatres were either public or private so people could choose where they wanted to watch the plays from. The plays were mostly performed one each day as compared to these days where a play can go up to a month. The players wore costumes that were expensive and they had bright colors that were captivating to the eyes and they were also contemporary and were worn not considering the time the play was being performed. Sometimes the lead player wore a version that was made more conventional and historic.

With time, various playwrights came up as the population in London grew and as its people became more and more rich, this produced a variety of plays with different qualities and they also had various extents. Some of the plays that were written in the period of Queen Elizabeth’s reign have been lost but some still remain. The playwrights got their payments from writing the plays and also from the performance of the plays on a day. The playwrights would then sell the plays to companies and therefore had no ownership or control whatsoever on the plays once they sold them to the companies.

The plays were not that easy to write because a playwright could write maybe two or three plays in a year. Shakespeare wrote about forty solo verses in a year and he also acted because he owned some of the shares of the company he worked for so he was wealthier than the other playwrights. Because of this problem of being able to just write two plays in a year, the playwrights could combine their efforts in order to be more productive and of course had to share the returns from writing the plays accordingly. The play about Henry the fifth by Shakespeare was written during the medieval period during the middle ages. There were also comedies performed during this time like the city comedy. Just a few of the plays written during this period were ever printed because some researchers of contemporary time argued that it was risky to print the plays but others did not agree with them. The puritan movement was rising and they thought that the entertainment business was sinful. The playwrights were politically active and they supported the monarchy and aristocracy and also the cause of the royalist. The puritan movement rose and gained control which led to the closure of the theatres that had been set up and these came back much later after the monarchy came back.

After the theatres were brought back, the plays that were performed were mostly the ones that were previously being performed in the theatres though they were in adapted forms. Some new genres also came up and this gave these plays of their century which was the seventeenth century their different character which was distinct from the rest. Many of Shakespeare’s plays were famous during this time together with the various collaborations with other playwrights.

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English Renaissance Theatre: Plays of the Renaissance Period. (2019, August 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 25, 2021, from
“English Renaissance Theatre: Plays of the Renaissance Period.” GradesFixer, 27 Aug. 2019,
English Renaissance Theatre: Plays of the Renaissance Period. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 25 Oct. 2021].
English Renaissance Theatre: Plays of the Renaissance Period [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Aug 27 [cited 2021 Oct 25]. Available from:
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