Open Air Play-houses in Elizabethan Stage (Theatre): A Brief Survey

"But men must know, that in this theatre of man's life it is reserved only for God and angels to be lookers on."
Francis Bacon (1561 - 1626)

The Elizabethan theaters were open air play-houses. Some were polygonal or roughly circular in shape. They held last audience of two or three thousands. They had two or three levels of roofed galleries that extended, on the upper levels, all the way around the theater surrounded an open space. In this space were the stage and the dressing room as well as the so called yard. In the yard stood the spectators, who chooses to pay less and were exposed to all kinds of weather.

Unlike the yard, the stage itself was covered by a roof. The stage was a large rectangle platform that threshes for into the yard, perhaps even as far as the centre of the circle formed by the surrounding galleries.
The stages of  Elizabethan time were not separated from the audience by dropping of a curtain between acts and scene. Therefore, the play wrought of the time had to find of ways of signaling to the audience that one scene had ended and the next had begun.
The customary way was to everyone on stage exit; at the end of the scene have some more different characters to begin the next scene. In a’ few cases where characters remain on stage from one scene to another the dialog ill or stage actions makes the charge of location clear, and the characters are generally imagined as havens moved from one place to another. The Elizabethan plays houses did not use moveable scenery to dress the stage and makes the setting of act so, the playwrights had to resourceful in the use of dialogue to specify where the action was taking place.



The actors did not limit their performing on the stage alone. Occasionally they went beneath the stage as the ghost appears to do in the first Act of Hamlet. From these they could emerge on the stage through a behind the hanging across the back of the stage as, for example, the actor playing Polemics does when he hides behind the arras, when performance required that an actor appeared ‘above’, he stairs to the gallery over the back of the stage, as when at the window of her chamber in the famous ‘Balcony scene’ in ‘Romeo and Juliet’.