Understanding the Elizabethans, their fears and beliefs, is essential in the rehearsal room our Associate Director Bill Alexander argues here - the latest in his current series of blogs on Rehearsing Shakespeare. He writes that throughout Shakespeare's 20-year career the theatres were closed roughly every two years for some weeks or months because of the plague. Everyone in the audience was afraid of the plague, everyone knew the authorities closed theatres because the tightly packed gatherings there were known to be one of the principal ways in which it spread. The cold was colder, the dark darker, journeys that now take hours would take days or weeks. Medicine was random, unimaginably inadequate by our standards, death frequent and constantly anticipated at any age.They are on the front foot all the time the Elizabethans, and we should not dampen their passion with a wink. They were physical, they thought their feelings were in their blood not their brains.