why were plays in elizabethan england performed during daylight hours

Not all of them were. Plays performed indoors at court, in private
halls or at indoor theatres like the Blackfriars were lit by
candlelight and could therefore be performed at night. Plays
performed in the outdoor theatres used sunlight to illuminate the
stage and so had to be performed during daylight. br /
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Apex) no stage light was avilable
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Because the only artificial lighting available after dark in those
days were either fire-torches or oil lamps, both of which were fire
hazards. To have naked flames ablaze in a packed Elizabethan
theatre (which were usually thatch-roofed and with timber framing)
was considered far too dangerous; if a torch or lamp went over and
started a fire, it would have engulfed the entire building very
quickly and risked the audience being either burned or trampled to
death in the ensuing panic. In addition, the design of Elizabethan
theatre buildings did not allow for the provision of emergency
exits. br /
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In point of fact, it was indeed fire that destroyed the first Globe
Theatre in London in June 1613, but this was started by a cannon
mounted on the roof of the building that was used to provide
sound-effects, and not by naked flames.


During a production of
Shakespeare's last play i Henry VIII /i, smouldering wadding
which the cannon was packed with got stuck in the thatched roof and
ignited- it's not known whether anybody died in the fire, but there
must have been some panic and the building was burned to the
ground. br /
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Not ALL plays were performed during daylight hours in Elizabethan
times though- Royalty, nobles and wealthy patrons of the arts had
special evening productions of plays performed in the galleries or
great halls of their houses, which were considered much safer from
fire risk and would have been lit at night anyway.
Histories, Tragedies and Comedies written by the greatest playwright of them all - William Shakespeare. The popularity of the theater reached people from all walks of life - from Royalty to the Nobility and the Commoners. What was a day out at the Elizabethan theater like for the audiences? Where did they sit? How much did it cost? What did they eat? What were the amenities like? How did illiterate members of the public know what plays were being presented? London Theatregoers - The London play goers loved the Theatre. It was their opportunity to see the great plays and each other.


Royalty - Queen Elizabeth I loved watching plays but theses were generally performed in indoor playhouses for her pleasure. She would not have attended the plays performed at the amphitheatres The Commoners called the Groundlings or Stinkards would have stood in the theatre pit and paid 1d entrance fee. They put 1 penny in a box at the theatre entrance - hence the term 'Box Office' Special effects were also a spectacular addition at the Elizabethan theaters thrilling the audiences with smoke effects, the firing of a real canon, fireworks (for dramatic battle scenes) and spectacular 'flying' entrances from the rigging in the 'heavens'. The Facilities ranged from basic to non existent. Flags, Crests and Mottos - Advertising - Flags were erected on the day of the performance which sometimes displayed a picture advertising the next play to be performed. Colour coding was used to advertise the type of play to be performed - a black flag meant a tragedy, white a comedy and red a history. A crest displaying Hercules bearing the globe on his shoulders together with the motto Totus mundus agit histrionem ( the whole world is a playhouse ) was displayed above the main entrance of the Globe Theater.


This phrase was slightly re-worded in the William Shakespeare play As You Like It - All the worlds a stage which was performed at the Globe Theater. The Elizabethan general public (the Commoners) referred to as groundlings would pay 1 penny to stand in the 'Pit' of the Globe Theater. The gentry would pay to sit in the galleries often using cushions for comfort. Rich nobles could watch the play from a chair set on the side of the Globe stage itself. Theatre performances were held in the afternoon, because, of course, there was limited artificial lighting. Men and women attended plays, but often the prosperous women would wear a mask to disguise their identity. The plays were extremely popular and attracted vast audiences to the Elizabethan Theatres. There were no toilet facilities and people relieved themselves outside. Sewage was buried in pits or disposed of in the River Thames. The audiences only dropped during outbreaks of the bubonic plague, which was unfortunately an all too common occurrence during the Elizabethan era. This happened in 1593, 1603 and 1608 when all Elizabethan theatres were closed due to the Bubonic Plague (The Black Death).

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