Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Y is for YARD #atozchallenge #shakespeare

In Shakespeare's day, the Yard was where the groundlings stood. It cost a penny to stand in the Yard and watch a play for a couple of hours. Cheapest seat in the house ... only it wasn't a seat.



We tend to lose sight nowadays of the practical reality that Shakespeare's first job as a writer was to keep the groundlings in the Yard amused, or at least engaged. 

All the sword fights, battle scenes, shipwrecks, dances, dirty jokes, and drunkards in his plays are there, at least in part, because the folks in the Yard needed something to keep them interested. Without such interludes, they might shout, throw something, or otherwise disrupt the proceedings.

As near as we can make out, the most financially successful of Shakespeare's plays during his lifetime was the one with the highest body count: Titus Andronicus. That seems to me to have something to do with the preferences of the Yard.  

One of the characters in my novel JIHADI: A LOVE STORY, Becky Firestone, is an amateur Shakespeare scholar. She's got a thing for The Tempest, a play with a body count of zero. 

The lack of onstage violence may have frustrated the groundlings in the Yard when The Tempest premiered at the Globe Theatre back in 1611. The play does have a marvelous shipwreck scene, though, as well as a monster, a lot of magic, and a trio of amusing drunkards

Becky doesn't find anything amusing about drunkards.