I Won’t Dance, Don’t Ask Me

5 Sep

I’ve been thinking about elizabethan theatre today, having been tweeting this morning about The Juliet Spell. And since TJS is about Romeo and Juliet, most of my thinking has been about Hamlet. You know the last scene: everbody’s pretty much stabbed, poisoned, or both. The stage is littered with bodies. But it’s the Globe, right. There’s no curtain. How do the actors get off?

Back in 1599, the danced. Everybody got up, eight of the actors formed fours, and the orchestra struck up. Think about that: Hamlet dancing with Gertrude, Polonius dancing with Ophelia, Horatio and Fortinbras dancing with each other. If you tried that nowadays, you’d get laughed off the stage. Back then, it was the equivalent of LIGHTS DOWN. It’s a good thing some genius figured out how to signal the end of the play by drawing a piece of cloth from right to left.

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