The plays of Shakespeare during his lifetime were performed on stages in private theatres, provincial theatres, and playhouses. His plays were acted out in the yards of bawdy inns and in the great halls of the London inns of court. Although the Globe is certainly the most well known of all the Renaissance stages associated with Shakespeare and is rightfully the primary focus of discussion, a brief introduction to some of the other Elizabethan theatres of the time provides a more complete picture of the world in which Shakespeare lived and worked.
We can classify Elizabethan theatres into two main groups -- those within the London district and those located throughout the English countryside. The theatres within the London district can be further classified as playhouses, inn yards, and private theatres. Please click on the links to find a wealth of theatre information.
"Shakespeare's pathos, and it may be added his melancholy also, lies quite close to his humour; and the reason for this is manifest when we enquire into the nature of both. Since his pathos consists largely in a conflict of agreeable and painful emotions, a slight change in texture may readily give us, instead of a pathos enlivened by humour, a humour sweetened with pathos." J. F. Pyre, Shakespeare's Pathos (1916)
In the Spotlight
Quote in Context
Thou seest we are not all alone unhappy,
This wide and universal theatre
Presents more woeful pageants than the scene
Wherein we play in. (As You Like It, 2.7.138)
"The general meaning of this word is simply a kind of dumb-show procession. One of the earliest meanings of pageant referred to the stage, platform or scaffold on which such scenes were acted. It is a point of contention whether the pageant took its name from the structure or vice versa. In course of time, speaking parts were introduced, and then the word became to be applied indiscriminately to all kinds of plays, such as Mystery, Miracle, and Morality Plays, which had by the end of the sixteenth century become obsolete and antiquated." [Maurice Jonas]
The general consensus is that Shakespeare wrote thirty-seven plays. However, no one can know for certain because of the inexact documentation at the time the plays were first being organized and published. If we include The Two Noble Kinsmen and two lost plays attributed to Shakespeare, Cardenio and Love's Labour's Won, then we could say he wrote, either alone or in collaboration, forty plays. Read on...