Richard Burbage

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The knowledge we have about Shakespeare is miniscule. Fortunately there is much to be known about his theatre troupe, Lord Chamberlain’s Men. Richard Burbage was one of its many actors. Burbage is known for his friendship with Shakespeare and his part in the troupe. It can be said, that not only was Richard Burbage a profound actor but, he was also a skilled business man.

By the age of 19, Burbage was leading actor in Lord Strange’s company (pearson 30). Burbage was such a gifted actor “… that Shakespeare created roles such as Richard III, Hamlet, Othello, and Lear…” just for him (Grebanier 17). This shows that Shakespeare felt Burbage could produce what he was looking for in each character. “The great Shakespearean actor during the playwright’s life time was not Shakespeare himself, but Richard Burbage” (17). To famous actor, Alleyn, Burbage became a rival (Thorndike 385). It is a difficult task to move up in the theatre industry, Burbage had a lot of talent to be surpassing the current stars. Thorndike also states that, “… Richard became the most famous actor of his time and the first interpreter of the leading parts in Shakespeare’s plays” (2). It is clear that Burbage began acting at a young age and had a natural talent for it. “. . . It seems probable that he played leading heroic and tragic parts in all Shakespeare’s plays” (385). It is hard to believe that a playwright would select one man to represent all of his lead characters, surprisingly Burbage was given that role. “An epitaph calls him ‘the best tragedian ever played’ . . .” (Thorndike386). These facts prove Burbage’s dominance of the stage.

Not only was Burbage a skilled actor, he was a business man as well. According to Thorndike Burbage was “The son of an actor and theatre owner, he was bred in both the art and business of acting” (385). Acting can be an art through performance, business wise you have the buying and selling of theatres. Theatres and theatre troupes also have shares...
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