Shakespeare’s Life and Theatre

Shakespeare’s writing was influenced by
many different people and things. The most basic influence is from his education
at Stratford Grammar School. He studied Latin, which shows up often in
his writing. Using this knowledge of words and language,
Shakespeare would often create his own words to convey his meaning. Many words we use today were coined by Shakespeare;
in fact, he created or changed the meaning of over 1700 words used commonly today. It is also easy to see the relationship between
what Shakespeare was writing and what he must have been feeling at various periods in his
life. The first period of love and youth inspired
plays like A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Romeo and Juliet. The second was dramatic, powerful and insightful,
and encompases works such as The Merchant of Venice and Henry V. The third period was tragic, and inspired
plays like Hamlet and MacBeth. Finally, Shakespeare fell into a calmer state,
writing plays like The Winter’s Tale and The Tempest. Another important influence in what and how
Shakespeare wrote was the accessibility of theatres. In Shakespeare’s time, the theatre was a very
important event. In order to make it more accessible to everyone,
the pricing was divided into three groups. For one penny, a person could stand in the
theatre in front of the stage. For two, he or she would get a chair in the
gallery. For three pennies, he or she would get a chair
with a cushion in the best galleries for listening. This kept class divisions in place, but made
sure that people were able to attend. They would often skip work or school in order
to attend the plays. Today’s reconstruction of Shakespeare’s
Globe Theatre was built according to the original plans, which were constructed to best serve
the way that plays were written in the 16th century. In Shakespeare’s time, one did not go to
see a play, he or she went to hear a play. The best seats were what we would now call
the “nosebleeds,” because the sound travelled well to the highest galleries in the theatre. Theatre companies in Shakespeare’s time
often consisted of only a few people–about 12, all men and boys. When plays like Shakespeare’s A Midsummer
Night’s Dream required more players, they simply had to play more than one role. In this case, aspects of the costume would
quickly and easily signify to the audience that the player was acting out another role. Shakespeare’s life and the resources available
to him certainly influenced the way he wrote his plays, but those things also influenced
the ways we create and view plays today!

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