William Shakespeare the Actor
FROM STRATFORD-UPON-AVON TO AN
ACTOR IN LONDON?
Shakespeare left his home, his family, his wife and children
in Stratford-upon-Avon to work in London - WHY?
rumours that he had been accused of poaching and fled to
London to avoid prosecution - but there is no documented
tended to stay in the village they were born during the
Elizabethan era - travelling was difficult, a license was
required to travel (this helped to stop beggars moving from
one village to the next and it also helped to contain the
spread of the Bubonic Plague)
received an education - he would have been able to find work
father owned several businesses - William could have worked
with the family in Henley Street
Stratford-upon-Avon is situated one hundred miles north of
London, a journey of four days walking
Who did he know
were known to have played in Stratford. Shakespeare's
father would have needed to issue these troupes with a license to
enable them to perform. So Shakespeare would have known some of these
- Richard Field was about two and a half years older than
William Shakespeare (Field was baptised November 16th
1561) and lived in Stratford-upon-Avon on Bridge Street,
very near to Henley Street until he was 17
father, Henry, was a tanner, in the same line of business
as William's father, John Shakespeare
moved from Stratford-upon-Avon London and on September 29,
1579 was apprenticed to George Bishop a prominent Printer
/ Publisher in Blackfriars
reason, William Shakespeare
was definitely working as an actor in London in 1592
AN ACTOR IN THE ELIZABETHAN
choice to become an Actor was surprising to say the least!
of Actors was not good! Many acting troupes had consisted of
Rogues and Vagabonds! Actors were not trusted! Acting
Troupes were considered such a threat that that
regulations were imposed and licenses were granted to the
aristocracy for the maintenance of troupes of players!
Actors would be
asked for these credentials - they were treated with
regulated! Plays were subject to censorship - the content of
plays was checked to ensure that they did not contain
political or religious elements which might threaten the
plays were often bawdy and the audiences were rowdy!
THE ACTORS & THEATRES!
There were no theatres in England until 1576!
built the the first public playhouse in Shoreditch, London
which he called 'The Theatre '
Until this time
the courtyards of inns (called inn-yards) were generally
used to show plays
Inn-yards were successful! There was money to be made in
this form of entertainment!
So more theatres
were built. They were similar to the design of the Roman
amphitheatres, like the Coliseum, but much smaller
Theatres did not
just show plays! A theatre was also used as bear pit,
brothel and gambling house ( this added to the poor
reputation of theatres, actors and playwrights)
THE LIFE OF SHAKESPEARE THE
It is not known
exactly how many roles Shakespeare played himself but we do
know that Shakespeare had began his career on the stage by
1592, because there is reference to this in Robert
Greene's Groatsworth of Wit
It is probable
that Shakespeare played the title role in Edward I (a play
by Edward Peele) in 1593
It is also
assumed that he played smaller roles in a variety of his own
plays, including As You Like It (Adam), Macbeth (King
Duncan), Henry IV (King Henry), and Hamlet (Hamlet's father)
first biographer, Nicholas Rowe, referred to a role by
William Shakespeare as "the Ghost in his own Hamlet" and
that he was "the top of his performance"
There was not
time for many rehearsals. It was important to put on new
plays. Several different plays might show at one theatre in
one week - “eleven performances of ten different plays”
Some actors were
given their lines by someone whispering them from the side
of the stage - This was called "cue acting "
Actors generally only got their lines as the play was in
progress called “ cue scripting ” the Actors did not know
the plot until the play was being performed!
There were no
females in the Theatres. Young boy actors would take on
different sound and visual effects and props which made the
performances more exciting
The actors would
sometimes be suspended from ropes in order to make flying
entrances, and there were also trap-doors in the stage
amphitheatres were open to the weather, so they were used
during the summer months
As time went on
Playhouse (similar to our own theatres) were used,
especially in the winter
started in the afternoon and ended by early evening
Shakespeare the Actor soon moved on to becoming William
Shakespeare the Theatre owner and Playwright!
Shakespeare the Actor