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The Date and the Expected Venue of Romeo and Juliet

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 March 2007

Stanley Wells
Affiliation:
University of Birmingham
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Summary

Titus Andronicus and Romeo and Juliet share some staging features that in the original performances laid quite distinct demands on their venues: a large balcony, a trapdoor, separate entry doors, and a sufficiently ample opening for ‘discoveries’ to admit the use of a curtained bed. The playwright when writing these plays must either have chosen to be exceptionally demanding over what the playing-places he expected to be used for the play could provide, or have been confident that the plays would be performed only at places which had these resources. They are features that so far as we know all of the suburban open-air theatres of the time, even the Swan, could offer without difficulty. Titus was performed at the Rose up to 1594, and Romeo at the Theatre and from 1597 at the Curtain, so the facilities the plays demand must have been available there. The company or companies that staged these two plays did not, however, have any fixed venue for playing until after the establishment of the two leading companies as a ‘duopoly’ after May 1594. If either play was written before that development, we ought to wonder why their author should have laid such substantial demands on the then-expected venues.

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Shakespeare Survey , pp. 15 - 26
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1996

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