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Introduction to Shakespeare
Transcript of Introduction to Shakespeare
Who was Shakespeare?
What we know about "the Bard"
born in 1564 in Stratford-on-Avon
married at 18 to Anne Hathaway
moved to London in 1586 to begin acting
became a successful actor/playwright by 1592
joined the Lord Chamberlain's men in 1594
died on April 23, 1616
wrote 37 plays between 1588 and 1613 (average of 1.5 per year)
He wrote comedies, histories, tragedies, and romances
wrote 154 sonnets
coined about 2,000 new words
acted and directed his own plays
What was Shakespeare's life like?
used about 27,000 words in his plays
created many new words such as fashionable, swagger, puke, and champion
also coined many well-known phrases like "vanish into thin air" and "foul play"
highly divided social classes
nobles, knights, merchants, working class
nobles looked for many ways to keep themselves entertained such as hunting, games and going to the theater
The audience wanted excitement, humor, passion, action and gore. They also appreciated puns and poetry.
All plays were performed in open air theaters
The stage and gallery seats were protected by a roof, but the groundlings were subject to the whims of the unpredictable weather
Performances were given in the middle of the day because there was no way to light the theaters after dark
The Globe Theater, the most popular theater in Shakespeare's day, had trap doors, rigging for flying entrances, cannons, fireworks, etc.
The actors had to be good, or the audience would quickly get out of hand.
The theater was more like a rowdy party - the audience came early, talked with friends, met new people, walked around, and ate and drank before and during the performance.
All sorts of shady characters mingled with the crowd - including pimps and pickpockets.
Groundlings were peasants who could only afford to stand on the ground in front of the stage. They paid a penny admission.
Nobles would pay an extra penny or so to sit in the gallery, the seats surrounding the stage.
The most wealthy nobles could even pay to have their seats placed right on the stage.
Women would often go to see plays, but disguised themselves so they wouldn't be seen.
the theater would fly a flag to let audiences know when plays would be performed.
the flags were also color-coded to let audiences know why kind of play would be performed.
plays were often included propaganda about the reigning monarch. Often arguments would erupt during a play based on how the audiences felt about the playwright's views.
no one really knows what Shakespeare really looked like, but there are many pictures that look similar to this one.
an aerial view of the reconstructed Globe Theater
a sketch of the stage of the original Globe
a modern-day audience stand where the groundlings would have
Which of Shakespeare's plays are you familiar with?
What emotions are dealt with in those plays?
Journal response: Why do you think Shakespeare's works
are popular all around the world?
Because of all the distractions, actors had to perform with energy and verve - to hold the attention of 3,000 restless people.
It has been said that actors at the Globe theater would do "eleven performances of ten different plays" every two weeks.
There were no scripts. Actors only received copies of their lines the day of the performance. Often there was a person backstage whispering the next line to the actor.
All parts were played by men or young boys.