Shakespearean Plays Isabelle Wolf, Period 5

Present day Globe Theater

Thesis

Because of their unbeatable setting, script, and performance, Shakespearean plays became legends over the centuries and impacted the entire world.

Setting for the Plays

Quote 1: "The Globe was round or polygonal on the outside and probably round on the inside. The theater may have held as many as 3,000 spectators. Its stage occupied the open-air space, with a pit in front for standing viewers. The stage was surrounded by several levels of seating” (Seidel).

Commentary: This remarkable home to Shakespearean plays opened in 1614, shutdown in 1642 and torn down in 1644. In 1996, The rebuilt Globe was completed 200 yards away from its original space,officially opening in 1997.

Quote 2: “After a disagreement with the landlord, the company was forced to find new accommodations. Richard Burbage and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men dismantled The Theatre and moved it across the River Thames to a new site in Southwark. There they used the old timbers to erect a new theater called the Globe Theatre" (Lander).

Commentary: This shows one of the many obstacles William Shakespeare faced was that the Theater couldn’t be rented to him anymore, but in the end he gained the stage in the Globe Theater, a major turning point in his career. The Globe is still one of the best places to watch a performance to this day.

Quote 3: "As was customary, Shakespeare’s company, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, rented performance space. For most of the 1590’s, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men performed in a building called The Theatre. The English actor and theatrical manager James Burbage had built the structure on leased land. Burbage was the father of the famous actor Richard Burbage, star of the Chamberlain’s Men. After a disagreement with the landlord, the company was forced to find new accommodations. Richard Burbage and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men dismantled The Theatre and moved it across the River Thames to a new site in Southwark. There they used the old timbers to erect a new theater called the Globe Theatre. The Globe could accommodate 3,000 spectators" (Lander).

Commentary: Shakespeare and his crew spent 21 years performing at this theater, impacting many people’s lives by just a couple short hours of performing per play.

Writing of the Plays

Quote 4: "Shakespeare was one of six shareholders who signed the lease for the new site in 1599. He thus became part of the first group of actor-sharers to also be theater owners. Although this arrangement meant considerable financial risk, it also promised to be profitable if the new theater was a success. The Globe proved to be a wise investment, and it remained a home to Shakespeare’s acting company until the religious reformers known as Puritans closed the theaters in 1642, during the English Civil War" (Lander).

Commentary: This meant that Shakespeare took a risk that could have costed him his entire career, meaning today’s world might have never known about a man named William Shakespeare if he hadn’t taken this risk. English might not be as developed as it is now, or characters in stories would not have as much character.

Quote 5:"In 1594, Field printed Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece. The book’s dedication to Southampton suggests a closer acquaintance between the writer and the aristocrat. The volume was not as popular as Venus and Adonis, but it still sold well. Seven editions had been published by 1632. Despite the commercial success of these early publications, Shakespeare made no effort to make a career of poetry. When the theaters reopened, he returned to acting and playwriting" Lander).

Commentary: Although Shakespeare wrote some amazing poems, his heart was in the plays he wrote and performed. That was where he influenced writing and performing all around the world, not in plays.

Quote 6: "Throughout the 1590’s, Shakespeare’s reputation continued to grow. From 1594 to 1608, he was fully involved in the London theater world. In addition to his duties as a sharer and actor in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, he wrote an average of almost two plays a year for his company. During much of this period, Shakespeare ranked as London’s most popular playwright, based on the number of times his plays were performed and published. But his reputation was largely that of a popular playwright, not of a writer of unequaled genius" (Lander).

Commentary: William Shakespeare was very well-known in his time, but no one in that time could even imagine that he would be one of the most famous writers in history.

Quote 7: "In 1598, Meres wrote Palladis Tamia: Wit’s Treasury, a book that has become an important source of information about Shakespeare’s career. In this book, Meres said of Shakespeare: “As Plautus and Seneca are accounted the best for Comedy and Tragedy among the Latins: so Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds for the stage. Although Meres’s praise did not represent everyone’s opinion, it indicates that Shakespeare had become an established writer by at least the late 1590’s" (Lander).

Commentary: Even people like Meres believed in this amazing play-writer. This shows the respect that people have for Shakespeare and his unmatchable work that he has influenced the world with.

Performance of the Play

Quote 8: "In 1603, Queen Elizabeth I died and was succeeded by her cousin James VI of Scotland. As king of England, he became James I. James enjoyed and actively supported the theater. He issued a royal license to Shakespeare and his fellow players, which allowed the company to call itself the King’s Men. In return for the license, the actors entertained the king at court on a more or less regular basis...

When James finally made his royal entry into London, the King’s Men accompanied him. The members of the company were officially known as grooms of the chamber. In spite of this title and the name King’s Men, the actors were not actually friends of the king. Their relationship to the royal court was simply that of professional entertainers" (Lander).

Commentary: To today’s society, Shakespeare is a legend and a fantastic writer, but to the king he was just a professional whose job was to entertain him. However, even the King couldn’t stay away from his fantastic work, proving his effect on his audience.

Quote 9: "The King’s Men achieved unequaled success and became London’s leading theatrical group. In 1608, the company leased the Blackfriars Theatre for 21 years. The theater stood in a heavily populated London district called Blackfriars. The Blackfriars Theatre had artificial lighting, mainly candles. The theater was probably heated and served as the company’s winter playhouse. The King’s Men performed at the Globe during the summer" (Lander).

Commentary: Not all of his plays have happy endings, showing that he puts his own twist on his stories. As a member of the King’s Men, Shakespeare performed for those 21 years in the Globe Theater, passing on his unique plays and lessons to his diverse audience.

Quote 10: "In one interesting aspect the theater in Shakespeare's day was very different from the theater we know today. Plays were originally performed by the all-male medieval trade guilds, so all women's parts were played by boys. It would be many years before women appeared onstage in the professional English theater. In Shakespeare's day, Juliet would have been played by a trained boy actor" (Anderson).

Commentary: At this time, females did not have the respect that they did now so they could not participate in Shakespeare’s plays. However, in present day, many women occupy the female roles and some even play male roles if right for the part. Whether it’s a male or female playing the parts in his plays, the message of the performance comes across just as clearly, and Shakespeare continues to teach others about English while entertaining them.

Works Cited

Anderson, Robert. “Shakespeare and His Theater: A Perfect Match.” Holt Literature & Language Arts: Mastering the California Standards: Reading, Writing, Listening, Speaking, by G. Kylene Beers et al., Austin, Holt, Rinehart & Winston, 2003, pp. 778-80.

Lander, Jesse M. “Shakespeare, William.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

Seidel, Michael. “Globe Theatre.” World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 8 Dec. 2016.

"Titus Andronicus." World Book Advanced. World Book, 2016. Web. 9 Dec. 2016.

Credits:

Created with images by marybettiniblank - "london globe theatre theater" • KirkOls - "The Tempest" • Provenance Online Project - "Title page from Penn Libraries PR2750 .A07 1619" • ms.Tea - "globe theater"

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