William Shakespeare Questions and Answers

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Where were Shakespeare's plays performed?

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purplepenguin eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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The Globe Theater in London is the most famous site of Shakespeare's productions. Working class peasants paid a week's salary to buy a seat in the theater. The "groundlings" paid less to stand in front of the stage for the show. They had precarious seating as they could be pelted with food from the seats above. The theater was really small with the audience very much a part of the play. These productions were repeated over many months time and the audiences got to know the actors' lines as well as the stage actors saying them. They would harass the actors and yell the correct lines to them if they flubbed and groundlings were known to jump onto the stage and show an actor how to weld a sword if they thought it was being done wrong. Many of Shakespeare's plays were also performed at small fairs or playhouses around England. Usually only one original script was submitted by Shakespeare to the production staff who penned in entrances and exits and other directions and used it to give the actors their lines. Sometimes, the actors left the productions in London, or simply viewed the play over many months time and memorized the lines and then put together their own touring group. Unfortunately, the lines were not always verbatim to the original lines that Shakespeare had written.

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Mervin Ridley eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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While Shakespeare's plays are typically connected to The Globe theatre, he also had other plays performed at Blackfriars, another site. It remains unknown which plays were intended for which venue, though there remains some speculation regarding the intent of each.

The Globe is better known as the location for the performance of many of Shakespeare's plays (Hamlet, As You Like it, etc.), and it has been reconstructed in its original location, on London's South Bank. 

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Keri Sadler eNotes educator | Certified Educator

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Shakespeare worked mainly at two theatres during his writing lifetime, the Globe (now reconstructed on London's South Bank in its original site) and the Blackfriars.

The Globe was built first (and was actually made from the timbers of a previous theatre, "The Theatre" which Shakespeare and some other colleagues moved) and it saw the premieres of several of Shakespeare's best known plays, including "As You Like It", "Hamlet", and "Henry V" (which famously makes reference to the Globe as a "wooden O").

The Blackfriars theatre, on a different site, was built later on, and was, unlike the Globe, an indoor theatre. Critics are in some disagreement about which of Shakespeare's plays were written for the Blackfriars and which for the Globe, though generally, "All's Well That Ends Well" and "Measure for Measure" are usually thought of as Blackfriars plays.

One thing that is certain, though, is that Shakespeare didn't switch from the Globe to write only for the Blackfriars: it was during a performance of his play "Henry VIII" in 1613 that a cannon misfired, setting fire to the thatched straw roof of the Globe, and burning it to the ground.

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Shakespeare's plays were performed in various places, but the best known works had their most significant performances at the Globe Theatre in the Southwark district of London. The link below has tons of information on Shakespeare's Globe Theatre.

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parama9000 | Student

They were mostly performed in the Globe Theater, built in 1599, where there were inner and outer platforms. It was open to all.

zumba96 | Student

The most famous place where Shakespeare had his plays was the Globe Theater. This was constructed in 1599. Shakespeare's plays would be known by what color flag would be shown at the moment. 

adasison | Student

The most famous venue of Shakespeare's performances was the Globe Theater.

jess1999 | Student

Shakespeare's plays were performed in the Globe theatre. The Globe Theatre was constructed in 1599. There were two primary parts of the globe theatre: the outer stage and the inner stage. The outer stage was a rectangular platform and the inner stage was at the very back of the outer stage. During Shakespeare's time there would be different colors of flags that will indicate which play was going to be performed. For example, a black flag would indicate tragedy which means that maybe Romeo and Juliet would be playing that night.

Yojana_Thapa | Student

Most of his significant plays were performed in the Globe theatre.

kc7092 | Student
Although many people think that all of Shakespeare's plays were performed at the Globe theater, this in not actually the case. Shakespeare started writing plays in about 1590, but the Globe was not built until almost ten years later. During that time, his plays were performed in a number of playhouses, but between 1594 and 1599 only at the Theatre and the Curtain. After 1608, they were performed at the indoor Blackfriars as well. A large number of Shakespeare's plays were performed at court, particularly after 1603 when the King became the patron of the company. They were also performed privately in people's homes and in rented halls: Twelfth Night was performed at the hall of the Middle Temple in the Inns of Court (the Law School). One of the more interesting venues was on board a ship anchored off the African coast. 

It is also true that we have very little early performance history for some of Shakespeare's plays, which may have been performed only once before the Commonwealth, and then perhaps not at a public theatre. It is by no means certain that every one of Shakespeare's plays was performed on the public stage before the theatres were closed in 1642.
awsae | Student

Shakespeare performed at the globe and the blackfriars.