WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE 26 April 1564; died 23 April 1616 FACTS William Shakespeare is known around the world to be one of the greatest playwrights of all time. A playwright is someone that writes plays to be performed on stage in a theater by actors and actresses. In his career he wrote 37 plays, 154 sonnets (a form of lyrical poetry usually sung) and a number of other poems. LIFE William Shakespeare was born in Stratfordupon-Avon, on April 23, 1564. Young William was born of John Shakespeare, a glover and leather merchant, and Mary Arden, a landed local heiress. William, according to the church register, was the third of eight children in the Shakespeare household—three of whom died in childhood. Common at that time. STRATFORD UPON AVON CHILDHOOD Early on Shakespeare likely attended the Elizabethan theatrical productions of traveling theatre troops, they would come to Stratford to entertain the local official townsmen and women. Although enrolment registers did not survive, around the age of eleven Shakespeare probably entered the grammar school of Stratford, King's New School, where he would have studied theatre and acting, as well as Latin literature and history. TEEN / ADULT LIFE At the age of 18, William married 26 year old Anne Hathaway (not the actress). Very little factual information remains concerning Anne Hathaway, except that she is most likely the eldest daughter of Richard Hathaway, who lived in Shottery, a small village a mile or so to the west of Stratford. The couple had 3 children, Susanna; Hamnet and Judith. Unfortunately though Hamnet died of unknown causes in August 1596 at the age of eleven. SKETCH OF ANNE HATHAWAY EARLY CAREER Shakespeare may have joined a theatre company touring Stratford, or he may have simply set out for London because he was tired of country life. For whatever reason, by 1592 he had made a place for himself in the theatrical world of London as a playwright and actor. By 1594, he had joined with a theatre company known as The Lord Chamberlain's Men, (their name changed to the King's Men upon the ascension of King James I to the throne in 1603) in which he played principle roles as well as taking upon himself the management of the company. It is believed that during his time traveling with these different theatre companies, he was writing poems and plays. Records of performances show that several of his plays were on the London stage by 1592. STUMBLING BLOCKS By 1592, he was well enough known in London and some of his early work was highly criticized especially by his peers and in particular playwright Robert Green who described him as an upstart crow. Which in a modern translation may mean self centered and trying to be more than he was. This however only fuelled William’s desire to be successful. WRITTEN WORK Shakespeare wrote 37 plays, of these, only 18 were printed in his lifetime. The plays first appeared in “quarto” which was basically a large piece of paper folded four ways and then bound. The result was a book slightly larger than today’s paperbacks. It was not until 1623 the complete works of Shakespeare were printed. It was then referred to as a folio. FOLIO THE THEATRE The first playhouse was built in Elizabethan London in 1576 to showcase dramatic performances, It was actually called “The theatre”. As the taste for theatre grew, so did the amount of playhouses. After joining The Lord Chamberlain’s men and being quite successful, they built their own theatre called The Globe. Named after it’s uniquely wooden “O” shape. THE THEATRE CONT. This theatre was situated outside the city following protests from the public on mostly moral or political grounds and also partly because of the spread of the plague. This theatre usually could accommodate an audience of two to three thousand people. Performances were advertised by playbills or posters around the city. The plays were performed during daylight (no electricity) and when the weather was suitable, due to it’s open ceiling. THE GLOBE THEATRE THE GLOBE 2 THE GLOBE 3 THE NEW GLOBE http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xgnInT4x8k A http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z8GVuuIW6 YE http://aspirations.english.cam.ac.uk/converse/ movies/index2.html TYPES Shakespeare’s plays were categorized into 4 different types. These were – comedies, tragedies, histories and romances. Some of the more popular of his plays have since been turned into modern day adaptations of feature films, like: Romeo and Juliet; Othello; Hamlet; Macbeth; A Midsummer Night’s Dream. COMEDIES A full third of his plays were comedies. He was considered the best writer of his day in this genre. Now this wasn’t ha ha funny but in those days a comedy was a play that ends happily. They do still have bright comical moments, hilarious characters and dialogue but they still dealt with serious themes. EX: The taming of the shrew, As you like it TRAGEDIES Shakespeare’s tragedies are among his most highly respected works. In these plays, tragic heroes grapple with important issues like love, death, revenge, jealousy, ambition and ingratitude to name a few. By definition, a tragedy ends unhappily. The protagonist suffers a tragic end as a result of some inner flaw or error in judgment. EX: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth ROMEO AND JULIET HISTORIES These plays basically serve to create a sense of patriotism and loyalty amongst the audience to the crown (English government) They also warn about the dangers of civil war. EX: King John, Henry V ROMANCES Among the most interesting of his plays were his romances. Most of which can be called tragicromance but they end happily. These plays often involve sea travel, wrecks and adventure with families being separated and then reunited. There can also be tragic misunderstandings followed by forgiveness and reconciliation. EX: The Tempest POETRY It should also be noted that Shakespeare also wrote many credible poems in his time. Sometimes mysterious they were usually in the form of narrative sonnets or in some instances very short verse (sometimes 1 line). A LOVER’S COMPLAINT EXTRACT "Father," she says "though in me you behold The injury of many a blasting hour, Let it not tell your judgment I am old: Not age, but sorrow over me hath power. I might as yet have been a spreading flower, Fresh to myself, if I had self-applied Love to myself, and to no love beside…. THE END IS NEAR Most likely Anne and the children lived in Stratford while Shakespeare spent his time traveling between Stratford and London, dealing with business affairs and writing and acting. William Shakespeare died on 23 April 1616, according to his monument, and lies buried in the chancel of the Holy Trinity Church in Stratford upon Avon. While there is little known of her life, Anne Hathaway outlived her husband by seven years, dying in 1623 and is buried beside him. It is not clear as to how or why Shakespeare died, but in 1664 the reverend John Ward, vicar of Stratford recorded that "Shakespeare, Drayton and Ben Johnson had a merie meeting, and it seems drank too hard, for Shakespeare died of a feavour there contracted." His tombstone is inscribed with the following epitaph; Good friend for Jesus sake forbeare To dig the dust encloased heare Blessed by y man y spares hes stones And curst be he y moves my bones ACTIVITY On a sheet of paper, I want you to imagine that you have traveled back to the 15th century and you have been assigned the task of interviewing William Shakespeare about one of his plays and his career in general. List 10 questions you would ask Shakespeare and briefly describe why you would ask that question.