The Influence of the Elizabethan Theater in 16th and 17th Century England

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  3
Wordcount:  602 Words
Date:  2022-03-09

Before the invention of modern technologies, for example, televisions and radios, movies, video games, and the internet, people in the Elizabethan era had an elaborate system of events to keep them entertained and particularly one of their passions was the theatre. Both the poor people and the rich People visited the theatre to get entertainment, and this happened mainly in the afternoons. This paper aims at analyzing the influence that the Elizabethan theater had in the 16th and 17th century England on the basis of socializing, the location of the theaters and the design of the theaters and the role they played in entertainment especially.

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First, the theatres played a massive role in bringing people from various social classes together and also people of the opposite genders together. Going to watch a play at that time involved paying money to enter into the playhouse to socialize with other people despite their sex and their social class (Howard 73). There was a variety of educational and social levels in Shakespeare's audience who was the foremost playwright at the time. It is important to note that at the time, the theatres were built close to brothels. As a result, this influenced the audience mainly regarding numbers and the categories of people that went to watch the plays.

The second influence was on the location of the theatres. There was a small number of theatres and those that were there were not built in London due to various strict regulations. Several reasons governed the location of the theatres on the South bank of Thames River such as taking workers from their jobs since they were performed during the afternoons (Greenbalt, 32). Other reasons included disapproval of the mixing of different social classes and fear of plague as people mixed. Furthermore, the sanitation was wanting due to an absence of toilets as people relieved themselves outside - the absence of the theaters in the city due to the regulations established therefore led to the establishment in areas where there were fewer limitations despite the health implications for example.

The next aspect is on the design of the construction of the theatres. The plays showcased made use of natural light and could only be staged when the weather was conducive and during the day (Hodges, 43). This is because the theatres were open air. Their design was like the present day sports arenas. This caused a lot of class separation as upper-class individuals mainly referred to as groundlings could sit in the galleries with cushions for comfort whereas the poor were limited to the balconies or at the pit. The pit was a circular area left out for example in the Globe Theatre apart from the rectangular stage. The construction of the theatres in such a manner would often lead to pandemonium as the crowd either cheered or booed the actors. The open-air design was mainly a limitation.


In conclusion, the Elizabethan theatre managed to entertain the populace at the time. It had much influence regarding the masses that went to watch the shows, the location of the theatres and the design of the theatres. All in all, it offered a platform for artists like Shakespeare especially to showcase their work and have the people watch the plays. It was a viable form of entertainment which thrived at the period before the developments in the media industry such as watching movies.


Greenblatt, Stephen. "Shakespeare's world." Norton Shakespeare. New York: W.W. Norton and Co.,1997.

Hodges, Walter. The Globe Restored. New York: Coward McCann Inc.,

Howard, Jean. The Stage and Social Struggle in Early Modern England. New York: Routledge, 1994.

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The Influence of the Elizabethan Theater in 16th and 17th Century England. (2022, Mar 09). Retrieved from

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