THE SCHOOL DRAMA MAGAZINE


Weekly Issue

   Stratford-upon-Avon

                                                                                         Saturday, March 31,2007

"THERE IS PLACE AND MEANS FOR EVERY MAN ALIVE", SAYS SHAKESPEARE.


MY BIRTHPLACE
Hello everybody. Let me introduce myself. My name is William Shakesperare but people used to call me Will. I was born on April 23, 1564 in the town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

When I was eighteen, I married Anne Hathaway, who was older than me, 26. We had three children, our older daughter Susanna and the twins Judith and Hamnet, who died when he was only a child.             

I spent most of my working life in London
 , where I established myself by the early 1590s. I enjoyed success not only as a playwright, but as a professional actor and shareholder in an acting company.

Sometime between 1610 and 1613, I retired from the stage and returned home to Stratford
. I died on April 23, 1616 in my hometown.

Rewriting Shakespeare's Biography.

DO YOU KNOW WHAT I LOOKED LIKE?
In fact, nobody ever took me a picture. Nobody knows what I looked like! Painters and drawers did their best after my death but there is no painting which is a true likeness of me. Would you like to see what my face was supposed to be? Click here and find out! There are many
other pictures based on the first ones.
 

MY TIME

My age was a great time in English history. The reign of Elizabeth
 (1558 - 1603) saw England emerge as the leading naval and commercial power of the Western world. Elizabeth I's England consolidated its position with the defeat of the Spanish Armada in 1588, and firmly established the Church of England (begun by her father, Henry VIII
, after a dispute with the Pope).

At this time, London was the heart of England, reflecting all the vibrant qualities of the Elizabethan Age. It was in this atmosphere that London became a leading center of culture as well as commerce. Its dramatists and poets were among the leading literary artists of the day; this is the environment in which I lived and wrote. London in the 16th century underwent a transformation. Its population grew 400% from 1500 to 1600, swelling to nearly two hundred thousand people in the city proper and outlying region by the time an immigrant from Stratford came to town. A rising merchant middle class was carving out a productive livelihood, and the economy was booming.

And as all's well that ends well, click here to watch the timeline of my life.


 

 

SOME FIGURES ABOUT MY WORK

 

I wrote about 38 plays, 154 sonnets and 5 poems.

My complete works consist of 884,647 words.

My longest play is Hamlet ( 4,042 lines ) and my shortest play is The Comedy of Errors ( 1,787 lines ).

I coined about 500 new words including schoolboy, rival, never-ending and useful.

 

 

 

 

 

"I have been said that my plays are still being performed on stages all over the world. People claim that I was a genious with a sharp knowledge of the human mind and heart. I cannot tell you why I became a playwright but I can say writing plays was like breathing fresh air for me; I couldn't live away from theatres. If you, dear reader, want to know about my life, my time and work , then stand your pace and be ready to listen."


THE THEATRE

 

Dear reader, imagine you have been

transported to the England of my time. On the banks of the River Thames
 
is the Globe Theatre, the wooden building where most of my plays were performed. You can see Queen Elizabeth I among the spectators. For a penny you can stand in the open courtyard with other groundlings -who are famously rude and noisy- and see the play ( watch out for picpockets!)

For an additional penny you can sit

among richer people in one of the covered galleries.

Following the common practice of the

day, my plays were originally performed solely by male actors; boys played the female parts. There was no curtain, and only a few necessary pieces of scenery, such as a throne or a rock.

My acting company, known first as the Lord Chamberlain’s Men and later as the

King’s Men, put on plays in any number

of places—from the courts of Queen Elizabeth I and King James I to churches and guildhalls in the countryside.

 

"Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving".

 

The company most frequently performed

in its own theaters. The original theater in which the Lord Chamberlain’s Men staged our plays was known simply as The Theatre; it is believed to have been the first London playhouse. From 1599 onward, the company performed in the outdoor theater most associated with my name, the Globe. Later, we also staged plays at a private indoor theater, the Blackfriars, while continuing to operate the Globe.

 


THE GLOBE

FACTS ABOUT THE THEATRE

You had to pay one penny to get into outdoor theatres like the Globe and another one if you wanted to sit in the balconies.

How did men cover up their beards

if they played women’s roles

in Shakespeare’s theatre? Usually

boys played women's parts on stage, so there was no problem about beards.

Older men probably played female roles from time-to-time, such as comic figures

like Juliet's Nurse. 

In that case, they would probably shave off any beard.

 

 

 

 

 

 

MY WORK

 

Make yourself at home!

It’s time to open the doors of the playhouses and attend some of my theatre plays.

 

The Winter's Tale
 

A "winter's tale" is a story to be told or read in front of a fire on a long winter's night. Paradoxically, this Winter's Tale is ideally seen rather than read. The tale that the play tells, like that promised by Mamillius, is indeed of "sprites and goblins"—of ferocious and murderous passions, of man-eating bears, of princes and princesses in disguise, of death by drowning and by grief, of Greek oracles, of betrayal, and of unexpected joy. And the play draws much of its power from its heavy dependence on Greek myths of loss and of transformation.

 

Hamlet

Hamlet is the most popular of my plays for readers and theater audiences. Superficially, it follows the well-worn path of a “revenge tragedy.” This popular type of play centered on a heroic figure—in this case, Hamlet, prince of Denmark—and his quest for vengeance against his father’s murderer—here, Hamlet’s uncle Claudius, now the king of Denmark in his dead brother’s place. 

 

Romeo and Juliet

In this play I create a world of violence and generational conflict in which two young people fall in love and die because of that love. 

 

A Midsummer Night's Dream

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, one of  my most popular plays, I stage the workings of love in ways that have fascinated generations of playgoers and readers. The play confronts us with mysterious images of romantic desire. There are Theseus and Hippolyta, about to be married; both are strange and wonderful figures from classical mythology. Theseus is a great warrior, a kinsman of Hercules; she is an Amazon, a warrior-woman, defeated in battle by Theseus. 

 

Macbeth

In 1603, at about the middle of my career as a playwright, a new monarch ascended the throne of England. He was James VI of Scotland, who then also became James I of England. Immediately,  London was alive with an interest in things Scottish. Many Scots followed their king to London and attended the theaters here. My company, which became the King’s Men under James’s patronage, now sometimes staged our plays for the new monarch’s entertainment, just as we had for Queen Elizabeth before him. 

   

The Tempest

In The Tempest I put romance on stage. I give you a magician, a monster, a grief-stricken king, a wise old councillor, and no fewer than two beautiful princesses (one of whom you only hear about) and two treacherous brothers.

 

Playing Quotes.  Matching Pictures.

                                                    

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Copyright © 2007 Valeriano Tárraga Hernández