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  • Writer's pictureRobin Yong

Elizabethan Playhouse - Gorilla Ballet Dancers 伊麗莎白劇院 - 大猩猩芭蕾舞者

Elizabethan Playhouse (Theatre), sometimes called English Renaissance Theatre, refers to that style of performance plays which blossomed during the reign of Elizabeth I of England (r. 1558-1603) and which continued under her Stuart successors.

The first professional actors appeared in Elizabethan theater as members of traveling troupes who presented plays in blank verse with lighthearted, secular themes.

The first purpose-built permanent theater opened its doors in London in 1576, and very soon after, the business of staging plays only for entertainment grew rapidly. Daily play runs at theaters gave rise to permanent performing companies that could devote more time and resources to captivating audiences of both sexes and socioeconomic backgrounds as they were spared from the need to tour. William Shakespeare (1564–1616) was the most well-known playwright of the day. His plays, which were presented at London's renowned Globe Theatre and covered a wide range of subjects including history, romance, retribution, murder, comedy, and tragedy.

During the Elizabethan period, some very rich households actually collected apes and monkeys as a status symbol. In this unique photo series, whimsical gorillas don Elizabethan attire that blends Shakespearean drama with anthropomorphic charm and period elegance.

One of the main uses of costume during the Elizabethan era was to make up for the lack of scenery, set, and props on stage. It created a visual effect for the audience, and it was an integral part of the overall performance. Since the main visual appeal on stage were the costumes, they were often bright in colour and visually entrancing. Colours symbolized social hierarchy, and costumes were made to reflect that. For example, if a character was royalty, their costume would include purple. The colours, as well as the different fabrics of the costumes, allowed the audience to know the status of each character when they first appeared on stage.

Costumes were collected in inventory. More often than not, costumes wouldn't be made individually to fit the actor. Instead, they would be selected out of the stock that theatre companies would keep. A theatre company reused costumes when possible and would rarely get new costumes made. Costumes themselves were expensive, so usually players wore contemporary clothing regardless of the time period of the play. The most expensive pieces were given to higher class characters because costuming was used to identify social status on stage. The fabrics within a playhouse would indicate the wealth of the company itself. The fabrics used the most were: velvet, satin, silk, cloth-of-gold, lace and ermine.

My Italian friends Arnaldo and Daniel are veterans at the Venice Carnevale. Animal masks seem to be the trend this year, and they are actually very photogenic. We had a great time walking around in Venice with these.

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