Tag Archives: Original staging conditions

How did they (stage a play) in The Taming of the Shrew

There are several plays of Shakespeare’s which contain a play with in a play. Such as Love’s Labour’s Lost and Hamlet. But the Taming of the Shrew is unique in that the play within the play takes up almost the whole play. Within this play The Taming of The Shrew is in fact the title of […]

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How did they (stage eavesdropping) in Much Ado About Nothing

Many of Shakespeare’s plays contain scenes where characters listen in on one another. Hamlet (where Polonius gets killed doing it) The Tempest (where Prospero checks up on his daughter doing it) and Love’s Labour’s Lost (where four characters do it to each other all at once)! As we see from this list this gag can […]

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How did they (cast the fairies) in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Many young actors today have cut their teeth on the role of one of the fairies in A Midsummer Night’s Dream whilst at school. A popular play for schools to produce perhaps because the fairy roles lend themselves so well to child actors. But what about in the first performances? Did Shakespeare cast adults or […]

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How did they (amuse the audience) in Love’s Labour’s Lost

Love’s Labour’s Lost, many people think was written for a performance at the Inns of Court – this is because it’s most striking feature is its focus on intellectual comedy. This is the polar opposite of a play like Titus Andronicus with its multiple murders and blood and guts enough to please the most sensation […]

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How did they (stage the casket scene) in The Merchant of Venice

    In Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, Portia’s father has left a riddle for any potential suitor. To Win Portia’s hand in marriage the suitors must choose from three Caskets – one of gold, one silver and one lead. (Anyone who has ever read a fairy tale will be able to hazard a guess […]

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How did they (Create two locations) in Troilus and Cressida

  In Troilus and Cressida we are taken to the Trojan wars and into the Greek and Trojan camps respectively. This play was written in about 1602 (soon after Hamlet) and was entered on the stationers’ register in early 1603. Some people think it was never performed during Shakespeare’s life time as a later edition […]

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How did they (create a tomb) in Romeo and Juliet

Romeo and Juliet contains a scene set in a tomb – namely the vault where in all Juliet’s ancestors  are laid to rest and where Juliet is taken when she seems to be dead on the morning of her wedding to Paris. Shakespeare skilfully whets our appetite for this scene in Juliet’s soliloquy when she […]

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How did they (rehearse) for Merry Wives of Windsor

    We know relatively little about rehearsal practice in Shakespeare’s theatre. The drawing of The Swan Theatre made by De Witt which I have show above tantalisingly shows no audience so one is tempted to imagine we see a dress rehearsal which De Witt was watching. However unfortunately historically speaking it is just as […]

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How did they (seat a king) in Richard II

Looking at this picture of Jonathan Slinger as Richard II  you are struck by the richness of the image with the stairs doubling as a throne for the king. As Richard’s status declined Jonathan took his seat further down the staircase. Then as now height symbolizes power and status so that the figure of the king could […]

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