There are several passages in Shakespeare’s plays in which an audience is addressed, outside of the fictional world of the play, by a speaker who directly acknowledges their existence as a theatre audience. These take the form of prologues, epilogues, and chorus speeches. Six plays feature both a prologue and an epilogue (2 Henry IV, Henry V, Troilus and Cressida, Pericles, All Is True, and Two Noble Kinsmen), while four have epilogues only (A Midsummer Night’s Dream, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, and The Tempest — though this number rises to five if one counts Twelfth Night’s epilogue-like song). Four plays, moreover, feature a chorus or chorus-like figure who provides narration during the play itself (Romeo and Juliet, Henry V, Pericles, and The Winter’s Tale). Such passages script both direct and indirect requests of the audience.
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