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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: July ::
Renaissance Audiences
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1515  Friday, 25 July 2003

From:           Jane Drake Brody <
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Date:           Friday, 25 Jul 2003 11:00:52 EDT
Subject:        Renaissance Audiences

>At the Globe, the
>fact that your fellow spectators are just as much "in your face" as the
>performers is surely suggestive of the original conditions of the
>Renaissance outdoor theatres.  The audience at the Globe is far more
>insistently PRESENT than at most other theatres and this is one of the
>things that makes it such a fascinating illumination of the Renaissance
>convention of audience address.

I am not sure that the comparison between Renaissance audiences and
today's audiences who are "entertained" by TV twenty-four hours a day
can be made.  Additionally, I suspect that Renaissance audiences were
far more attentive to verbal cues and rhythms than their more
visually-oriented descendants. I am not meaning to suggest that the pit
wasn't rowdy, but I doubt that it generally dismissed the play as easily
as our over stimulated youth can do.  I suspect that the Renaissance
audience was far more akin to attendants at a revival meeting, shouting
to the minister and generally having a great time.  This behaviour is
not rude because it is in sync with the "show" itself and contributes to
the experience for everyone.  I doubt that any revivalist would want a
silent audience, but it is also true that the revivalist would despair
over an audience whose attention was more on itself than on "the Word."

Jane Drake Brody

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