English Renaissance theatre

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English Renaissance theatre, also known as early modern English theatre, refers to the theatre of England, largely based in London, which occurred between the Reformation and the closure of the theatres in 1642. It includes the drama of William Shakespeare, Christopher Marlowe and many other world-famous playwrights.

English Renaissance Theatre is sometimes called "Elizabethan theatre." The term "Elizabethan theatre", however, properly covers only the plays written and performed publicly in England during the reign of Queen Elizabeth (1558–1603). As such, "Elizabethan theatre" is distinguished from Jacobean theatre (associated with the reign of King James I, 1603–1625), and Caroline theatre (associated with King Charles I, 1625 until the closure of the theatres in 1642). "English Renaissance theatre" or "early modern theatre" refers to all three sub-classifications taken together. Most famous plays were written and performed during the Elizabethan era.

Contents

Background

Renaissance theatre derived from medieval theatre traditions, such as the mystery plays that formed a part of religious festivals in England and other parts of Europe during the Middle Ages. The mystery plays were complex retellings of legends based on biblical themes, originally performed in Cathedrals, but later becoming more linked to the secular celebrations that grew up around religious festivals. Other sources include the morality plays and the "University drama" that attempted to recreate Greek tragedy. The Italian tradition of commedia dell'arte as well as the elaborate masques frequently presented at court also contributed to the shaping of public theatre.

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