Plays for the People

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Back in the time of Shakespeare, plays were a form of entertainment for the people of London. They would not only be seen by the rich, but also by the lowest member of the social scale. Shakespeare’s globe theatre was open to the public, and the only perk about having lot of money was you were able to get a better seat and refreshment. But, other than that the rich were seeing the same play as the peasants.

Shakespeare knew that people of all ages and of all different social classes came to see his masterpieces, and he took this into account when he wrote his plays. In many of Shakespeare’s plays he would grab the audience’s attention at the beginning of the play. In the Taming of the Shrew he captivates both the upper class and the lower class in his audience with the quick scene with Christopher Sly, who the lower class can relate to, and the Lord, who the upper-class nobles could distinguish with. This opening scene does not have much relevance to the play, but is does capture the audience’s attention.

After this relatively short opening seen how does Shakespeare keep his audience interested in the play? Shakespeare has various ways of holding onto the audience. For one, he uses prose and verse or iambic pentameter between his characters. Verse is used when the character is dignified or rich; this type of speech is aimed at the wealthier members of the audience. When Shakespeare’s characters talk in prose they are talking in common language not in any rhyme or iambic pentameter, this type of speech is relating to the lower class in the audience (peasants, merchants, blacksmiths, etc.).

Also, Shakespeare would often have each social group be made fun of at the expense of the other. He would make the peasants or servants in his plays out to be stupid or naive or only there for comic relief. On the other hand Shakespeare would poke fun of the rich and the noblemen.

Shakespeare also had other way or relating his plays to his diverse audience, and he would use the topics that the characters talked about. To relate with his lower class audience members who would be standing on the main floor in the theatre, he would have the characters jump down into the audience and act out scenes using the audience. He would also use crude humor to connect with the less educated lower class audience members. For his upper-class audience members, he would have his actors talk bout things they would be interested in like money and power. But his works did not just entertain the two different types of audience members, he also brought them together. He brought his audience together through action and drama and romance, topics all could enjoy.

It’s fair to say Shakespeare was a master at his work, and that his technique and style for writing plays have captivated different types of audiences, and for a short time brought opposite groups together. He has entertained all sorts for centuries and will for centuries to come.





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