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It has been said that:
All the world`s a stage, And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts
JAQUES (Jay-kees) - As You Like It - Act II, scene vii.
To paraphrase Jaques, a Shakespearean actor would have to show that all the stage is a world for his audience to understand what was happening as sometimes one man was playing many parts. To a modern audience used to props and sometimes very elaborate scenery changes, the relatively bare stage of a Shakespearean performance in the Globe or even in Blackfriars would require great leaps of imagination to provide the necessary understanding.
This presentation will look at how Shakespeare helped his audience with prompts in the script that allowed their imagination to fill in the gaps. As they were scripts, not books; the only readers were the performers, and the function of the script was to be realized on the stage.
As Orgel (2003) said `For Shakespeare, there always was an imagination intervening between his text and its audience.`
In Elizabethan playhouses, it is important to note that, unlike our modern theatres, the stage could be seen from all around the auditorium. The scenery could not be changed in between scenes because there was no curtain to drop. Mabillard (2000) stated that, `If the play required a change of place in the next scene, most times the actors would not leave the stage at all, and it would be up
From King Lear the audience must think up a storm.
LEAR. Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! rage, blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout Till you have drench`d our steeples, drown`d the cocks! You sulph`rous and thought-executing fires, Vaunt-couriers of oak-cleaving thunderbolts, Singe my white head! And thou, all-shaking thunder, Strike flat the thick rotundity o` th` world! Crack nature`s moulds, all germains spill at once That makes ingrateful man!. Ppt,10
From A Midsummer Night`s Dream the audience is asked to imagine not only the clogging fog but also sense of urgency due to the passage of time.
OBE. Thou seest these lovers seek a place to fight; Hie therefore, Robin, overcast the night; The starry welkin cover thou anon With drooping fog as black as Acheron,
PUCK. My fairy lord, this must be done with haste, For Night`s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast, ppt11
From Dr Faustus here the audience