The Age of Shakespeare Spans over the 16 th & 17 th Century Part of the English Renaissance, which means ‘rebirth’ Emphasis on ‘the man’ and the accomplishments of man; being the ‘center’ of the world.
And more of the Age… Aka: The Elizabethan Age after Queen Elizabeth. Shrewd, fair, and charismatic ruler who: Controlled internal religious conflicts Fueled the economy Kept the country safe from foreign enemies
Women in England enjoyed more freedoms than other countries, but were still limited. Vast majority of people were poor commoners who suffered from poor diets and crowded living conditions. When King James succeeded the throne in 1603, he became a major supporter of Shakespeare’s Theater Troupe.
Prior to Shakespeare’s time, actors performed for hundreds of years, but with little comfort or security. First permanent playhouse was built in 1567, and other ‘Open Air’ theaters sprung up over the next few decades.
Shakespeare’s company, The Lord Chamberlain’s Men, built their own playhouse, The Globe, in 1599. It was circular, with three levels of covered tier seats, and a 40 foot platform stage that projected into an open yard.
The Globe Theater Groundlings, poor commoners, paid one penny to stand in the pit in front of the stage It cost two pennies to sit on the benches, while wealthy people paid six pennies to sit directly over the stage. The Globe could accommodate about 3000 spectators.
Theatrical Conventions All performances took place in the afternoon because there was no artificial light. The stage was mostly bare, relying on languages to create illusions of a setting. It was considered immoral for a woman to appear on stage, so young boys played the female roles using wigs, costumes and their voices to create the illusion.
Shakespeare’s Life Born in Stratford-Upon- Avon on April 23 rd, 1564 and died on April 23 rd, 1616. At 18, he married Anne Hathaway and they had three children: Susana, Judith, and son, Hamnet, who died at age 11. He moved to London to pursue a career in theater where he worked as an actor and playwright.
He joined the Lord Chamberlain’s Men in 1594 and remained with them for the rest of his career. He made his living from the share of the company’s profit and investments, not from the sale of his plays. Four centuries later, his works still inspire and influence.
Reading Shakespeare He wrote 37 plays including tragedies, comical, and historical. He wrote 154 Sonnets – 14 line poems written in Iambic Pentameter. His writing is full of figurative language – similes, metaphors, oxymoron, and puns, which play on the different meanings of a word or a similar meaning or sound of a different word.
Romeo & Juliet Most of Romeo & Juliet is written in Blank Verse – unrhymed version of iambic pentameter. To create this pattern, he usually placed words in an unusual order or divided lines of poetry between two characters.
Situation is ordinary – a young couple in a conflict with their parents. He ‘borrowed’ the story from another writer named Arthur Brooks who wrote a poem called ‘The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet.’ Shakespeare departed from the original in many ways. Both, however, open with a sonnet.