Title of Research Output

Shakespeare's Stages

Student Information

Denise ZhuFollow

Faculty

Arts & Humanities

Supervisor Name

Dr. M.J. Kidnie

Keywords

Shakespeare, early modern playhouses, theatre history, visual evidence, evidentiary uncertainty.

Description

Shakespeare’s plays were produced at a number of playhouses, including the Rose, the Theatre, the Curtain, the Globe, and the Blackfriars. Over the centuries, ongoing analysis of historical evidence has supported the idea that each of these theatres looked different and might have undergone changes during their operational periods. However, while a range of evidence and scholarship about the appearance of these playhouses exists, they provide a corpus of interpretative possibilities more so than a fixed picture of ‘Shakespearean theatre.’ Sifting through this evidence begs the question of how audiences may have internalized ‘fixed’ images of Shakespearean theatre in viewing modern reconstructions and early modern illustrations without considering evidentiary uncertainty. Even today, a large number of outstanding questions are being disputed when it comes to what various playhouses looked like. What were their shapes and sizes? How were they decorated inside and out? How did audiences enter the playhouses? What were the shapes and sizes of the stages? How many stages had pillars, what size were they and where were they located? This blog attempts to address some of these questions by dissecting the 1596 de Witt/van Buchell drawing of Swan Theatre.

Acknowledgements

I would like to express my gratitude to my supervisor, Dr. M.J. Kidnie, for her ongoing support and guidance throughout this project. I would also like to extend special thanks to Ryan Rabie from Huron at Western for the technical support as well as Dr. M.J. Kidnie's colleagues, Dr. Gillian Woods from Birkbeck, University of London, and Dr. Sonia Massai from King's College London, for their encouraging words and feedback along the way.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Document Type

Video

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Shakespeare's Stages

Shakespeare’s plays were produced at a number of playhouses, including the Rose, the Theatre, the Curtain, the Globe, and the Blackfriars. Over the centuries, ongoing analysis of historical evidence has supported the idea that each of these theatres looked different and might have undergone changes during their operational periods. However, while a range of evidence and scholarship about the appearance of these playhouses exists, they provide a corpus of interpretative possibilities more so than a fixed picture of ‘Shakespearean theatre.’ Sifting through this evidence begs the question of how audiences may have internalized ‘fixed’ images of Shakespearean theatre in viewing modern reconstructions and early modern illustrations without considering evidentiary uncertainty. Even today, a large number of outstanding questions are being disputed when it comes to what various playhouses looked like. What were their shapes and sizes? How were they decorated inside and out? How did audiences enter the playhouses? What were the shapes and sizes of the stages? How many stages had pillars, what size were they and where were they located? This blog attempts to address some of these questions by dissecting the 1596 de Witt/van Buchell drawing of Swan Theatre.