Around 1568, a group of actors visited Stratford and put on a play before theentire town, with permission from John Shakespeare, the mayor of the town. Thepeople loved the play, especially the small children. All of them looked up tothe actors, as they returned each year to perform different plays.
They haddreams of one day becoming actors, but only one of these children fulfilled thisdream. This child was the mayor’s son, William Shakespeare. At this time, actors in England usually spent their careers traveling to newtowns, performing plays at city buildings or local inns. However, with the helpof James Burbage, this all changed. James Burbage designed and built the firsttheatre in England. The actors could then settle down in one place and performin a place built for plays.
The theatre was a huge success, and many more beganpopping up over England, but this theatre built by James Burbage was foreverThe layout of the stage consisted of five levels. The lowest level was for trapdoors built into the stage. The next level was the main stage, where the actorsdid most of their performing. Above this was the balcony level, which could beused to represent anything from a city wall to a mountain.
The next levelcontained pulleys which could raise or lower anything from above. The top levelwas used for creating sounds of rain or thunder, or dropping important objectsWilliam Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway at age 18. In two years, they hadthree children, a daughter named Susanna, and twins, Hamnet and Judith. Hedidn’t stay in Stratford long after this though. He left his family to pursue aShakespeare wrote his first play in 1592.
It was a historical play called HenryVI, which was one of the biggest successes of the year. Some scholarscriticized him because he did not have a university education like mostplaywrites, but probably the only reason he was criticized for this was becauseAfter the success of his historical play, he wrote a tragedy called TitusAndronicus, and then The Comedy of Errors, a humorous comedy. Not manyplaywrites wrote so many different types of plays in so short a time, butShakespeare was certainly not like any other English playwrite. Very early in Shakespeare’s career, however, many theatres closed due to theplague in England, and playwrites were not in high demand. Shakespeare thenturned to another type of writing and wrote a narrative poem entitled Venus andAdonis. This was a huge success and he received praise for it by the scholarswho gave him no respect as a playwrite.
His next poem was called Lucrece, whichwas just as successful as his first. In spite of his success as a poet, he gaveup poetry after Lucrece was published. He joined Lord Chamberlain’s ActingCompany in 1594, and for the rest of his career, he only wrote plays for thisOther actors in Shakespeare’s company included Will Kempe, the most popularcomic of his time, and Richard Burbage, son of James Burbage, the designer ofThe Theatre. Other important members of the company were John Heminges, who wastheir permanent business manager, and Henry Condell, another actor in thecompany. These two men later published the first complete edition ofShakespeare’s play, after Shakespeare’s death.
Shakespeare wrote many plays which were adaptations of earlier plots. Some ofthese include King John, The Taming of The Shrew, and Romeo and Juliet. Somesaid he could turn a flat, one-sided plot into a masterpiece. In Romeo andJuliet, Shakespeare mixes the humor of Mercutio and Juliet’s nurse into aserious tragedy.
Not many playwrites of this time mixed comedy with tragedy,but he did this because the two elements combine in real life and he felt theyNone of the critics who had praised his poems ever mentioned his plays. However,he was singled out by Francis Meres, a London writer. Meres stated,”Shakespeare among the English is the most excellent in both kinds of thestage. ” Meres was not a distinguished literary critic, but he reassured themiddle class readers who were already fans of Shakespeare. Shakespeare’s acting company was doing what no other acting company had everdone. Usually acting companies bought plays from writers, and the writer had nofurther input in the production of the play.
However, Shakespeare wrote,produced, and sometimes even acted in his own plays. He helped design costumesand props for the play, so it