Shakespeare

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William Shakespeare

(April 23rd 1564 – April 23rd 1616)
Little is known about ‘ the morning star’ of English literature . He was born on the 23rd of April 1564 in Stratfordupon-Avon as the son of a glove dealer. He studied for 5 years at Stratford grammar school ( as written in the village documents) . At the age of 18 he married Anne Hathaway and they had 3 children : a daughter , Susanna , and two twins (Hamnet and Judith). Hamnet died at the age of 11 .In 1585- at the age of 21- Shakespeare left for London in search for a job and he got himself employed in a theatre Company as a ‘ jack-of-all-trades’. He began by being a horse keeper, then a stage-boy, an actor, a prompter , a play-mender and finally a playwright . When the Globe theatre was built (1599) we find Shakespeare as a share –holder.

The Elizabethan Theatre

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The first proper theater as we know it, was called the Theatre, built at Shoreditch, London in 1576 and the owner was James Burbage. James Burbage had obtained a 21 year lease with permission to build the first playhouse, aptly named ' The Theatre '. Before this time plays were performed in the courtyard of inns or inn-yards, or sometimes, in the houses of noblemen or in extreme circumstances on open ground. After the Theatre, further open air playhouses ( theaters ) opened in the London area, including the Rose Theatre (1587), and the Hope Theatre (1613). The most famous Elizabethan playhouse ( theater ) was the Globe Theatre (1599)

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When Shakespeare started his career in the theatre , there wasn’t a proper institution for theatrical performances, and companies played mostly in the court yards of inns, in castles or mansions of great Lords that invited the artists to perform . Women were not allowed to act , being considered a rather vulgar profession for a woman, therefore, the female parts were impersonated by young boys, with wigs and make-up. There were no special props or adequate scenery, so when an out-side scene was needed, stage-boys were pretending to be trees or walls , they carried a board with a yellow sun drawn to symbolize the sunrise or a silver moon to indicate that it was night. For the battle scenes , one or two horses were brought on stage (by a horse-keeper) and for the inner scenes , a table and some stools were enough . Shakespeare’s play “Henry VIII” marked a premiere in point of costumes and ‘special effects’ but it lead to the tragic accident, as the straw back-stage caught fire during a war scene where cannons were suggested by means of flares. Nobody died but the theatre burnt to the ground (having been made of wood , with a stone foundation) .

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The project to rebuild Shakespeare’s Globe was initiated by the American actor, director and producer Sam Wanamaker after his first visit to London in 1949. Twenty-one years later he founded what was to become the Shakespeare Globe Trust, dedicated to the reconstruction of the theatre and the creation of an education center and permanent exhibition. After 23 years spent tirelessly fundraising, advancing research into the appearance of the original Globe and planning the reconstruction with the Trust’s architect Theo Crosby, Sam Wanamaker died in 1993, the site having been secured, the exhibition undercroft structurally complete and a few timber bays of the theatre in place. Three and a half years later the theatre was completed.

Shakespeare’s Sources of inspiration (predecessors and contemporary artists)

The University Wits Sir Phillip Sidney
(30 November 1554 – 17 October 1586) became one of the Elizabethan Age's most prominent figures. Famous in his day in England as a poet, courtier and soldier, he remains known as the author of Astrophel and Stella (1581, pub. 1591),inspired by Penelope Devereaux, the future Lady Rich; Shakespeare also organised his sonnets in chronological order and rendering his real-life experience (The Dark Lady).

Christopher Marlowe- was an English dramatist,...
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