Theatre History Essay Research Paper Question 1 — страница 4

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a reflection of this ideal. A playwright was considered as a missionary of sorts. For the first time in hundreds of years, the image of the theatre was gaining favor in the eyes of Christians. This era marked the birth of the pastoral playwright. This trend would continue for hundreds of years and vernacular drama, another kind of religious play would also increase in popularity. A few examples of vernacular drama plays are The Play of Saint Nicolas and The Miracle of Theophile (94). Unfortunately, most medieval drama, both liturgical and vernacular remains anonymous and for the most part, is gone forever (94). The renaissance marked a change in mentality from religious to secular. After being the center of attention for nearly a thousand years, the shift from God to man unlocked

new doors for the playwright and for theatre. Theatre began evolving from its medieval incarnation into new forms such as opera, intermezzi, and the comedia del arte. In addition, a rediscovery of the classics paved the way for a new take on old material. It is important to remember that the appeal of the playwright and the appeal of the theatre have not always gone hand in hand. This was never truer than it was for the playwrights of the English renaissance. In Elizabethan England, the theatre was quite popular. To escape the highly conservative theatre circuit in central London, budding young playwrights decided to drop their church-related theatrical upbringing and a new theatre industry made it s home in the highly suspect Southwark region below the Thames river. Playwrights

were a dime a dozen in this era. The church had been responsible for a boom in literacy and as the amount of people that could read and write increased, so did the amount of playwrights. Unfortunately, the number of playwrights during this time period helped detract from their reputation and esteem (154). More than anything else, theatre was a business to the English. It was an industry and playwrights were merely a part of the money making process. Southwark was notorious for being high in prostitution, gambling, and other debauchery. Playwrights were not paid very well and like most theatre companies, were in both trouble and debt a lot of the time (157). A few Elizabethan playwrights who had their share of fame and folly are Thomas Kyd, Christopher Marlowe, and Ben Jonson.

Despite their poor reputation, Elizabethan playwrights were the best there has ever been. Educated and particularly feisty, the playwrights of this era gave us the best drama and comedy in the history of the theatre and it s largely due to the excellence of drama during this time period that theatre exists in the abundance it does today. The renaissance was a time for rediscovering human virtue, for looking at accomplishment in the present rather than in the afterlife. Like the time period itself, the playwrights of this era were daring, unrestrained, and wonderful. Society has looked at the playwright in many different ways and under many different lights. The praise or damnation society gives its theatrical masterminds is relative to where a certain culture is at a specific

time. For the Greeks, to praise the gods through verse and drama was extraordinary. For the Romans, it was pointless to watch fake emotion when they could see the real thing in a gladiator fight. During the Middle Ages, playwrights were pastoral and were regarded with quiet respect, merely servants of the Lord. Lastly, renaissance playwrights, keeping in the tradition of the era were both praised and shunned for they re various achievements and disabilities. No matter whom, when, or where, the notion of the playwright as a pivotal figure in both literature and the human experience has been reserved indefinitely.