Antony and Cleopatra

Use of Stagecraft in Antony and Cleopatra 12th Grade

Shakespeare uses stagecraft in a number of different ways to create dramatic effects in ‘Antony and Cleopatra’. Jacobean stages were very simple, not much more than an empty wooden platform thrust into the middle of spectators with no scenery to raise or lower. The sheer emptiness of Shakespeare’s stage and the absence of scenery focused the audience’s attention on the actors. This creates dramatic effect as the audience is focused on the dialogue of the play without being distracted, which allows the play to be concentrated on entirely.

The actors were presumably dressed in a combination of contemporary and ‘classical’ costumes, which helps the audience to visualize the nationality, rank and gender of the characters. Although Cleopatra’s command to Charmian, ‘cut my lace’, indicates that she wore the kind of tight bodice favoured by Queen Elizabeth, there was some attempt to provide her and her entourage with ‘Egyptian’ clothes as well as the ‘divers coloured fans’ held by the eunuchs who attend her on her first entrance.

Antony and Cleopatra’s exchange of clothing, which she recalls with amusement during his absence in Rome, in Act 2 Scene 5,...

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