Shakespeare The man, the myth, the legend William Shakespeare was born the third of eightchildren on April 23, 1564, in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England, to Mary Arden and John Shakespeare.His father, John, was a shopkeeper and a man of someimportance in Stratford who served at various times asJustice of the Peace and High Bailiff (mayor).
Education William attended grammar schoolwhere he studied Latin grammar, Latinliterature, and rhetoric (the uses oflanguage). As far as we know, he hadno formal education.
King Edward VI Grammar School at Stratford-upon-Avon
Let There Be Love… At the age of eighteen, Shakespeare fell in love with Anne Hathaway who was 26. They married and had three children. Susanna was the oldest, and Hamnet and Judith were twins. Hamnet died as a child.
Where There’s A Will… There were not many forms of entertainmentduring this time. Books were not in wide circulation andanyone with half a brain could only take so much of thatlousy recorder music and those inane puppet shows - soShakespeare had the brilliant idea of becoming an actor.
But Wait . . .There’s More! Theatrical troupes of Elizabethan Englandwere kind of like the garage bands of their time.Actors would often write their own plays,improvise lines, and play female roles. It wasn’tunusual for them to rave for hours or to bore theirfriends into oblivion. Incontrovertible historicalevidence strongly suggests actors of Shakespeare’stime would regularly trash inns, drink heavily,chase locals, and generally wreak havoc.
And More . . . Aside from the birth of his children, little isknown about Shakespeare between 1582 and 1592,except that he built a career as an actor andeventually became an established and popularmember of the London theatre circuit.
There’s Even More?!? Shakespeare’s play writing success began withhistorical works. Between 1590 and 1593, he wroteHenry VI, Parts 1,2, and 3, Richard III and A Comedy ofErrors. Romeo and Juliet was among the early plays thathe wrote between 1594 and 1596. Shakespeare wrote atotal of thirty seven plays, including such masterpieces asJulius Caesar, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear and Macbeth.
Still More Shakespeare . . . As an actor, he was a member of a theatricalcompany known as Lord Chamberlain’s Men, whichwas later to become the King’s Men. Wealthy patronssupported these theatrical groups. The King’s Menwere supported by King James himself. Shakespeare worked with The King’s Men allof his writing life by providing them with plays yearafter year. He had a theater that needed plays, actorswho needed parts, and his own family who needed tobe fed.
And Still More . . . Theatre in Shakespeare’s time was enjoyedby commoners as well as the privileged. Often theaudiences were completely illiterate. The publictheatres were “open air,” so the players had tocompete with livestock sales, screaming streethawkers, and obnoxious drunks on the street.
Retirement He retired from the theater to his nativeStratford in 1612. Due to his widespread fame andsuccess, he was able to buy the second-largest housein Stratford with a cottage, a garden, and 107 acresof soccer field In early 1616, he wrote his will, leaving hisproperty to his daughter Susanna, 300 pounds to hisother daughter, Judith, and his second-best bed toAnne because it was her favorite.
R.I.P. Shakespeare died on April 23, 1616, on his 52ndbirthday. He was buried at Trinity Church in Stratfordas an honored citizen. His tombstone bears thefollowing inscription: Good Friend, for Jesus’ sake forbear To dig the dust enclosed here.Blest be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he who moves my bones.
R.I.P.These are hardly the best of Shakespeare’s lines, butlike his other lines, they seem to have worked. His bones lie undisturbed to this day.
Shakespeare Today Shakespeare’s plays are still produced allover the world. During a Broadway season in the1980s, one critic estimated that if Shakespeare werealive, he would be receiving $25,000 a week inroyalties for a production of Othello alone. Theplay was attracting larger audiences than any othernonmusical production in town.
Shakespeare continuedShakespeare was in the acting company, LordChamberlains Men (later called the King’s Men)He wrote: 37 plays, 154 sonnets, and 2 long poemsHis work was not published during his lifetimebut four years later in the "First Folio" bookShakespeare is considered a "man for allseasons" because his plays appeal to everyone(all ages and across time)
The Shakespeare DebateThere is much speculation as to whether or notthere was an actual “Shakespeare.”Many historians claim that “Shakespeare” isactually a collection of several poets andplaywrights works, while others claim that itwas a pseudonym for another writer.The three men most associated with the“Shakespeare Debate” are Edward De Vere,Francis Bacon, and Christopher Marlow.
The Shakespeare DebateThe reasoning behind the controversy seems tolie in the fact that many people find it difficultto accept that a man of poor education andupbringing could write such eloquentmasterpieces and have such a strong commandof the English language.The important thing is not to focus on whetherhe was real or not, but instead we should focuson the great pieces of literature that we haveattributed to him.
T he G lobeShakespeare performed his plays hereConstructed in 1599 On the banks of the Thames River • Near LondonShape: OctagonalPlay time: 2 hours inthe afternoon Cost: One penny
T he G lobe continued Seating: Pit: General crowd Galleries: A small additional fee would get you these seats Box Seats: Royalty or noblemen only The capacity for the play performance was 3,000 Sound effects were made in the huts Ghosts could appear on stage through trap doors
T he G lobe continued Flags, trumpets, and fliers told when there would be a play The flags also told the audience what type of play they would be seeing: Red flag = history play White flag = comedy play Black Flag = tragedy play
Costumes Continued . . . England had “Clothing Acts” which forbade certain classes of people from dressing like a higher class. So, for an actor-a person of the lower classes- to dress like a nobleman or a king was something of a scandal.
Life of an Elizabethan ActorActor must have a strong voice-must be able to yell over the voices ofhecklers, drunks and crowds- must have singing skillsStrong body-acrobatics/gymnastics/juggling/wrestling& able to physically fend off rowdyaudience members who jump on stage- EXPERT fencing skills. Real swords wereused and every now and then, an actor wouldactually be killed on stage if his timing andskills weren’t good enough.- strength to move heavy props
Vibrant Personality - skilled in speech and rhymed verse - Use of puns and jokes - tragedy skills - Quick wit for hecklers - play female roles - be able to play many different roles in oneplay. One actor could play up to six roles in onesingle play! This actor had to change clothes,characters, and personalities many timesthroughout the play.
Trickery/ “Magic” Skills All plays were performed during early afternoonbecause there was no electricity for a night timeperformance. The audience members sat VERY close tothe stage, and sometimes, they could pay a penny extraand actually sit ON the stage with the actors. Theaudience insisted on seeing blood, gore, and guts. Theactors would hide sheep bladders full of sheep blood andentrails under their shirt or costume. When stabbed, theactor would appear to “bleed” or be “gutted” by hisopponent. The audience would grow hateful, loud, rude,and destructive if the battles didn’t seem real or goryenough. In order to appear realistic at such close rangeto the audience, the actor’s sleight of hand had to bequicker than the audience’s eye.
Inside Shakespeare’s Globe This is a photograph of the newly restored Globe Theater in England. This picture shows what the stage looks like.
The Globe The Globe was the first actor ownedtheater. The theatre held up to 3000 people.There were actually 1500 seats, but manycould not afford them, so most paid a pennyand attended as groundlings, who stood forthe entire play.
Parts of the GlobeThe Pit- Sometimes referred to as “The Yard”where the groundlings watched the play fortheir one-penny admission.The Stage- Major playing area jutted into thePit, creating a sense of intimacy with theaudience. Hangings curtained off space beneath.Main entrance- Here the doorkeeper greetedplaygoers and collected one penny fromeveryone.
Parts of the GlobeLord’s Rooms- private galleries; six pennies leta viewer sit here, or sometimes even on thestage itself.Middle Gallery- called “two-penny rooms”because the seats here were higher priced.Inner Stage- A recessed playing area oftencurtained off, then opened for appropriatescenes.
Parts of the GlobeHut- a storage area that also held a wenchsystem for lowering enthroned gods or othercharacters to the stage.Tiring-House- The important backstage areawhich provided space for storage and businessoffices.
Parts of the GlobeTrap Door- Leading down to the Hell areawhere equipment included the winch elevatorthat raised and lowered actors or properties.There was another trap door in the ceilingreferred to as “the heavens.”Hell- The area under the stage, used for ghostlycomings and goings or for more mundanestorage of properties.
Elizabethan EnglandQueen Elizabeth I ruled Englandduring the time that Shakespeare wrote many of his plays.
Queen Elizabeth I She ruled England for nearly 50 years, and was very popular Ruled 1558-1603 She was such a strong ruler that the time is called the Elizabethan Age or England’s Golden Age. Elizabeth never married although she had many suitors during her lifetime. Queen Elizabeth had red hair and green eyes and was known for her love of fashion; she had over 2,000 dresses. Some of her more elaborate gowns weighed over 200 pounds each.
Queen Elizabeth I continued During the 1600s, London was a busy,bustling, walled city. It was having aRenaissance (rebirth) of arts and sciences undertwo monarchs who loved the theater. Queen Elizabeth, the daughter of HenryVIII and Anne Boleyn, was a liberal-mindedmonarch who enjoyed the theater and wroteplays for special performances. Shakespearegave 32 performances at her court during herreign.
Elizabethan TheaterDuring this time, theater was not the only form of entertainment. People alsoenjoyed music and dancing.No women were allowed to act in the plays. Youngboys acted the female parts.Actors wore clothes from their own time period,regardless of the play’s setting. The costumes wereoften very fancy.Audiences were very rowdy. They talked during theplays, and if they did not like one, they would throwgarbage at the actors.
Elizabethan EnglandEngland was very dirty Most people bathed only once a year Doctors worried about the Queen because she took a bath once a month People dumped garbage into the city streetsSchool Boys went to school from age 7 to about 15, where they learned math, Latin, and Greek Girls were usually educated at home
King James I King James I, the son of Mary Queen ofScots, reigned from 1603 to 1625. He alsosupported the theatre and wrote many poems andplays. At least half of the plays that he sawperformed had been written by Shakespeare.
E lizabethan T heatersDuring the reign of Queen Elizabeth and laterKing James, there were many famousElizabethan Theaters. Some of these were“The Theatre” “The Swan”“The Globe” “The Rose”“The Blackfriars” “The Fortune”“The Whitehall” “The Curtain”These theatres were usually located outside theLondon walls on the Thames.
SHAKESPEARE A RIP-OFFARTIST ??Bard Not Originator of R & J StoryThey were right when they said theres no such thing as anoriginal story. Some critics complained the famous 1961movie "West Side Story" stole its plot from "Romeo andJuliet." But "borrowing" stories is nothing new.Shakespeare based "Romeo and Juliet" on a long, boringpoem by Arthur Brooke called "The Tragical Historie ofRomeus and Juliet." But Brookes poem was based on aFrench story by Pierre Boaistrau, and this story was takenfrom Italian writer Matteo Bandellom, whose story issupposedly a true account from the 11th century. And thischain continues back all the way to a Greek story fromaround the year 400 A.D.-- Elizabethan Times
Sex-Crossed Lovers!Insiders Reveal Juliet Is Really A Boy! Starts"Crying Game" TraditionThe theatre in Shakespeares day was very different fromthe theatre we know today. The greatest difference was -- ithad no actresses. All of the womens roles were played byboys! - sometimes recruited from the choirs of Londonchurches. Many of these boys acted their parts very welland all were totally accepted by Elizabethan audiences. Thefirst women actors did not appear on the English stage until1660!-- Elizabethan Times
JULIET DISSES ROMEO!She Cant Decide, Ro Or No?Few people know that Juliet originated one of the earliest"Diss" lists. When she learns that Romeo has killed hercousin Tybalt, she "snaps on" 16th century style by callingher lover: "a beautiful tyrant, fiend angelical, dove-feathered raven, wolfish lamb, damned saint, and honorablevillain." Polite by todays standard, but just as effective.-- Elizabethan Times
YOU MAKE THE CALL!First Interactive Theatre!At one point, two versions of "Romeo & Juliet," one with atragic ending and one with a happy ending, played onalternate nights and the audience would choose whicheverending suited their mood at the time!-- Elizabethan Times
Romeo & JulietRomeo & Juliet was written during a period whenShakespeare had found the strength of his writing. Hewould have been about 30 years old when he wrote it. Itstands as a great play in its own right.Romeo & Juliet is believed to have been written around1595. The Nurse in the play refers to "an earthquakeeleven years past (Act II, scene 3, line 23). Londonexperienced a strong tremor around 1580.
The Tragedy The story is, of course, about a pair ofstar-crossed lovers. Two teenagers pursuetheir love for each other despite the fact thattheir families have been at odds with eachother for decades. The story combinesswordfighting, disguise, misunderstanding,tragedy, humor, and some of the mostromantic language found in literature all inthe name of true love.
The Feud(Let’s Get Ready to Rumble!!!) Capulets vs. Montagues
In The Red Corner…The Capulets Lord Capulet Lady Capulet Juliet, daughter of Capulet Tybalt, nephew of Lady Capulet Nurse to Juliet Peter, servant to the Nurse Sampson, servant of Capulet Gregory, servant of Capulet An Old Man of the Capulet family
And In The Blue Corner…The Montagues Lord Montague Lady Montague Romeo, son of MontagueBenvolio, nephew of Montague and friend of Romeo Balthasar, servant of Romeo Abram, servant of Montague
Those of Neither Red Nor Blue Prince Escalus, ruler of VeronaMercutio, a relative of the Prince and friend of Romeo Friar Laurence, a Franciscan priest Friar John, another Franciscan priestCount Paris, a young nobleman, a relative of the Prince An Apothecary ( a druggist ) Page to Paris Chief Watchman Three Musicians An Officer Citizens of Verona, Relatives of both families Maskers, Guards, Watchmen and Attendants
How Do I Love Thee Elizabeth Barrett BrowningHow do I love thee? Let me count the waysI love thee to the depth and breadth and heightMy soul can reach, when feeling out of sightFor the ends of Being and ideal Grace.I love thee to the level of every day’sMost quiet need, by sun and candle light.I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.I love thee with the passion put to useIn my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith.I love thee with a love I seemed to loseWith my lost saints -- I love thee with the breath,Smiles, tears, of all my life! -- and, if God choose,I shall but love thee better after death.
Life in 1500 Next time you’re washing your hands andthe water temperature isn’t just how you likeit, think about how things used to be. Hereare some facts about the 1500s. Most people got married in June becausethey took their yearly bath in May and stillsmelled pretty good by June. However, theywere starting to smell, so brides carried abouquet of flowers to hide the body odor.
More Life in 1500 Back then, baths consisted of a big tub filledwith hot water. The man of the house had theprivilege of the nice, clean water, then all the othersons and men, then the women and finally thechildren -- last of all the babies. By then the waterwas so dirty, you could actually lose someone in it.Hence the saying, “Don’t throw the baby out withthe bath water.”
Shake, Shake, Shake . . . Houses had thatched roofs -- thick straw --piled high, with no wood underneath. It was theonly place for animals to get warm, so all thedogs, cats and other small animals (mice, bugs)lived in the roof. When it rained it becameslippery and sometimes the animals would slipand fall off the roof -- hence the saying, “It’sraining cats and dogs.”
Shake your . . . There was nothing to stop things from fallinginto the house. This posed a real problem in thebedroom where bugs and other droppings couldreally mess up your nice clean bed. Hence, a bedwith big posts and a sheet hung over the topafforded some protection. That’s how canopy bedscame into existence.
Are we having fun yet? As one might think, the floor was dirt. Onlythe wealthy had something other than dirt, hencethe saying “dirt poor.” The wealthy had slatefloors that would get slippery in the winter whenwet, so they spread thresh (straw) on the floor tohelp keep their footing. As the winter wore on,they kept adding more thresh until when youopened the door it would all start slipping outside.A piece of wood was placed in the entranceway,hence, a “thresh hold.”
Let’s Party! In those old days, they cooked in the kitchen with a bigkettle that always hung over the fire. Every day they lit the fireand added things to the pot. They ate mostly vegetables and didnot get much meat. They would eat the stew for dinner, leavingleftovers in the pot to get cold overnight and then start over thenext day. Sometimes the stew had food in it that had been therefor quite awhile. Hence the rhyme, “peas porridge hot, peasporridge cold, peas porridge in the pot nine days old.”Sometimes they could get pork, which made them feel quitespecial. When visitors came over, they would hang up theirbacon to show off. It was a sign of wealth that a man “couldbring home the bacon.’ They would cut off a little to share withguests and would all sit around and “chew the fat.”
More Fun . . . Those with money had plates made ofpewter. Food with a high acid content causedsome of the lead to leak onto the food, causinglead poisoning and death. This happened mostoften with tomatoes, so for the next 400 years orso, tomatoes were considered poisonous.
Are you still awake? Lead cups were used to drink ale orwhiskey. The combination would sometimesknock them out for a couple of days. Someone walking along the road would take them fordead and prepare them for burial. They werelaid out on the kitchen table for a couple ofdays and the family would gather around andeat and drink and wait and see if they wouldwake up. Hence the custom of holding a“wake.”
England is old and small and the local folksstarted running out of places to bury people, so theywould dig up coffins and take them to a “bone-house”and reuse the grave. When reopening these coffins, 1out of every 25 coffins were found to have scratch markson the inside, and they realized that they had beenburying people alive. They decided they would tie astring on the wrist of the corpse, lead it through thecoffin and up through the ground and tie it to a bell.Someone would have to sit out in the graveyard all night(the “graveyard shift”) to listen for the bell; thus,someone could be “saved by the bell” or was considereda “dead ringer.”