Shakespeare was a member of a theatre company called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. He was their chief playwright, writing about two plays per year, and he also appeared as an actor. Shakespeare was also a shareholder in the acting company.
As only men were allowed to act onstage, all theatre companies were made up of men, with a few boys aged 8 – 12 who played the female parts.
In 1597 the theatre company’s lease on the theatre they were using ran out. Their landlord wanted to pull down the theatre and use the timber for something else! So what they did was this: they gathered together in the middle of the night, dismantled the theatre piece by piece, and transported the timber across the Thames River, where they rebuilt the theatre south of the river.
The new theatre was called the Globe; it had twenty short sides so it formed a circle. It could seat 3,000 people. Shakespeare also owned a share in the new theatre.
The theatre was attended by everyone, rich and poor. It was one of the few places where everyone could meet on equal terms.
Some people think that William Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare’s plays at all. That instead he was the front man for someone else who did not want their identity known. This is known as the “authorship controversy.”
Why do they think this? Some people think that Shakespeare was not educated enough to have written the plays that he did. That his knowledge of court life, and the legal system was too great for someone who had not been to university, travelled, or was a member of the royal court.
None of his plays appear to have been put on in his hometown of Stratford. When he died, Shakespeare did not leave any letters or diaries that referred to his writing career, or any drafts of his plays. He also did not mention his plays in his will either.
So if Shakespeare did not write his plays, then who did? There are many theories, and many people from Shakespeare’s time have been put forward as possibilities for the “real” Shakespeare. These include: Queen Elizabeth I, Christopher Marlowe, Edward De Vere the 17th Earl of Oxford, Roger Manners the 5th Earl of Rutland and Sir Francis Bacon.
However, there is no proof that any of these people actually wrote Shakespeare’s plays, or that Shakespeare himself did not write his own plays.
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