Performances of
William Shakespeare Plays

The Biography of William Shakespeare

  • What dates were his plays first performed?

  • Where were the plays performed?

  • How did Actors learn their lines?

  • Did women perform in his plays?

  • Did other people steal his plays?

  • Full Text, Summary, Characters & info about his plays!

Picture from Henry VI Part 3
Act V Scene vi

 

Performances of William Shakespeare Plays

THE FIRST PERFORMANCES OF WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE PLAYS

  • We cannot be totally accurate about the actual first performance dates of many Shakespeare's play because the documented evidence is simply not available but we can estimate the year in which they were performed

  • Plays were performed very soon after they were written! The theatres wanted the Profit! New Performances meant Bigger Audiences!

  • As soon as a play had been written it was immediately produced - printing followed productions! So the actors initially used draft scripts called 'foul papers' or were prompted from off-stage

  • Plays were blatantly copied and stolen - read the section on Quarto Texts - and this plagiarism led to different versions of some of William Shakespeare's plays! In Shakespeare’s time Copyright did not exist!

  • The plays were performed in a variety of venues. The huge open- air amphitheatres such as the Globe Theatre or the smaller, indoor Playhouses such as The Blackfriars Theatre Playhouse

THE PERFORMANCES!

  • The performances were exciting! New Theatres! Great costumes and Props! Sound Effects! Visual effects!

  • In the amphitheatres there were smoke effects, the firing of a real canon, fireworks and spectacular 'flying' entrances from the rigging in the top of the theatre called the 'heavens'

  • Music also accompanied productions at the Globe Theater

  • Summer performances would be held in the open air Theatres like the Globe and winter performances would be produced in the indoor Playhouses like Blackfriars

  • There was not time for many rehearsals. It was important to put on new plays. Several different plays might show at one theatre in one week - “eleven performances of ten different plays”

  • Shakespearean Actors generally only got their lines as the play was in progress called “ cue scripting ” the Actors did not know the plot until the play was being performed!

  • Zero rehearsal time enabled a fast turnover in terms of new productions and a huge portfolio of different plays. More Money!

  • There were no females in the Theatres. Young boy actors would take on these roles!

  • How much did it cost to see a play? Globe audiences paid one penny (which they put in a box by the door - hence the term 'Box Office')

  • The penny allowed them to view the play by standing on the ground, in front of the stage ( these people were called the Groundlings!)

  • The Playhouses were more expensive - the cheapest being two pennies!

  • Shakespeare acted in some of his own plays - read about this in William Shakespeare the Actor

  • The performances were divided into three types - Histories, Comedies and Tragedies:

William Shakespeare Comedies
William Shakespeare Histories
William Shakespeare Tragedies

THE FIRST KNOWN PERFORMANCE DATES OF THE PLAYS BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

  • Each of the Plays first known performance dates are detailed below

FULL SCRIPT, SUMMARY, CHARACTERS AND INFO ABOUT THE PLAYS BY SHAKESPEARE

  • The links highlighted below will provide access to the following:

    • Full Text/Script of the whole Play

    • Short Summary of each of his Plays

    • Information about each of his plays - first publications, number of words, history etc

    • The Cast and Characters in each of his Plays

    • Famous Quotes from each of his Plays

Performances of William Shakespeare Plays

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