Archive for the Shakespeare Is Human Category

Pertinent Facts About the Play and Its Performance

Posted in Shakespeare Is Human with tags , , , , , , on April 1, 2009 by Saera

globe-theatre2The Globe Theatre of 1599 was located in Southwark, and so out of the jurisdiction of inner-city London, which did not look kindly on play-acting, gambling, prostitution, etc. The theatre was designed as an outdoor one, with cheap seats, standing room around stage, or galleries that cost much more. It was a non-lighted theatre and certainly a more public one than the later Blackfriars Theatre was. The stage had a roof, but the rest of the theatre was open. The stage platform was about 5 feet high, and did not contain many props or even a curtain, such as modern theatres do.

The Globe is significant to both Shakespeare studies and the Elizabethan stage in general because it was the most public theatre that Shakespeare wrote plays for, and the plays he wrote for this theatre vary from those he wrote for the more private, elite audiences of Blackfriars theatre. Because of its size and many cheap “seats” or standing room, it allowed many people to see Shakespeare’s plays, increasing their popularity.

As mentioned earlier, stage props were used sparingly during Shakespeare’s time, but certainly more so than was scenery. The staging of Shakespeare’s plays was emblematic. Costumes were used extensively. Scenery was practically non-existent. This is significant because it meant that the bulk of “pretending reality” rested on the emblematic aspects of a play’s staging as well as the language of the play, not the “scenery,” to be realistic.

The Lord Chamberlain’s Company was founded by the Lord Chamberlain and his son-in-law, the Queen’s officer in charge of licensing playing companies. Shakespeare joined this company around 1594. Because of a ban on plays being performed anywhere but specially-built, official playhouses, the company, one of two important ones 9the other being the Lord Admiral’s Men), performed in the Theatre, in Shoreditch. This is significant to Shakespeare studies because it helps one understand the play better if he or she understands its intended audience.

Will’s Will

Posted in Shakespeare Is Human with tags on March 25, 2009 by Saera

The following is William Shakespeare’s will, copied from

Shakespeare’s signature on the original document may be seen at

(The original document is held in the Principal Probate Registry at Somerset House.)

Notice the interesting spelling…and consequently never chide a fifth grader for his or her spelling of  “beleeve!”


Vicesimo Quinto die Januarii Martii Anno Regni Domini nostri Jacobi nucn Regis Angliae etc decimo quarto & Scotie xlixo Annoque Domini 1616

Willemi Shackspeare

In the name of god Amen I William Shackspeare of Stratford upon Avon in the countrie of Warr’ gent in perfect health and memorie god by praysed doe make and Ordayne this my last will and testament in manner and forme followeing that ys to saye first I Comend my Soule into the hands of god my Creator hoping and assuredlie beleeving through thonelie merittes of Jesus Christe my Saviour to be made partaker of lyfe everlastinge And my bodye to the Earthe whereof yt ys made.

Item I Gyve and bequeath unto my sonne in Law and Daughter Judyth One Hundred and fyftie pounds of lawfull English money to be paied unto her in manner and forme follewing That ys to saye One Hundred Poundes in discharge of her marriage porcion within one yeare after my deceas with consideracion after the Rate of twoe shillinges in the pound for soe long tyme as the same shalbe unpaid unto her after my deceas & the fyftie pounds Residewe therof upon her surrendering of or gyving of such sufficient securitie as the overseers of this my will shall like of to Surrender or graunte All her estate and Right that shall discend or come unto her after my deceas or that she nowe hath of in or to one Copiehold tenemente with theappertenances lyeing & being in Stratford upon Avon aforesaied in the saide countie of warr’ being parcell or holden of the mannor of Rowington unto my daughter Susanna Hall and her heires for ever.

Item I gyve and bequeath unto my saied Daughter Judyth One Hundred and ffyftie Poundes more if shee or Anie issue of her bodie Lyvinge att thend of three yeares next ensueing the daie of the date of this my will during which tyme my executors to paie her consideracion from my deceas according to the Rate afore saied. And if she dye within the saied terme without issue of her bodye then my will ys and and I doe gyve and bequeath One Hundred Poundes therof to my Neece Eliabeth Hall and ffiftie Poundes to be sett fourth by my executors during the lief of my Sister Johane Harte and the use and proffitt therof cominge shalbe payed to my saied Sister Jone and after her deceas the saied L li shall Remaine Amongst the childredn of my saied Sister Equallie to be devided Amongst them. But if my saied daughter Judith be lyving att thend of the saeid three yeares or anie issue of her bodye then my will ys and soe I devise and bequeath the saied Hundred and ffyftie poundes to be sett out by my executors and overseers for the best benefit of her and her issue and the stock not to be paied unto her soe long as she shalbe marryed and Covert Baron by my executors and overseers but my will ys that she shall have the consideracion yearelie paied unto her during her lief and after her deceas the saied stock and condieracion to bee paid to her children if she have Anie and if not to her executors or Assignes she lyving the saied terme after my deceas provided that if such husbond as she shall att thend of the saied three yeares by marryed unto or attain after doe sufficiently Assure unto her and thissue of her bodie landes answereable to the portion gyven unto her and to be adjudged soe by my executors and overseers then my will ys that the saied CL li shalbe paied to such husbond as shall make such assurance to his owne use.

Item I gyve and bequeath unto my saied sister Jone XX li and all my wearing Apprell to be paied and delivered within one yeare after my deceas. And I doe will and devise unto her the house with thappurtenances in Stratford where in she dwelleth for her naturall lief under the yearelie Rent of xiid

Item I gyve and bequeath unto her three sonnes William Hart—Hart and Michaell Harte ffyve pounds A peece to be payed within one yeare after my decease to be sett out for her within one yeare after my deceas by my executors with thadvise and direccons of my overseers for her best proffitt untill her marriage and then the same with the increase thereof to be paied unto her.

Item I gyve and bequath unto her the said Elizabeth Hall All my Plate (except my brod silver and gilt bole) that I now have att the date of this my will.

Item I gyve and bequeath unto the Poore of Stratford aforesaied tenn poundes; to Mr Thomas Combe my Sword; to Thomas Russell Esquier ffyve poundes and to ffrauncis collins of the Borough of Warr’ in the countie of Warr’ gent. thriteene poundes Sixe shillinges and Eight pence to be paied within one yeare after my deceas.

Item I gyve and bequeath to mr richard Hamlett Sadler Tyler thelder XXVIs VIIId to buy him A Ringe; to William Raynoldes gent XXVIs VIIId to buy him a Ringe; to my godson William Walker XXVIs VIIId in gold and to my ffellowes John Hemynges, Richard Burbage and Heny Cundell XXVIs VIIId A peece to buy them Ringes.

Item I Gyve Will Bequeth and Devise unto my Daughter Susanna Hall for better enabling of her to performe this my will and towardes the performans thereof All that Capitall Messuage or tenemente with thappertenaces in Stratford aforesaid called the newe plase wherein I now Dwell and two messuags or tenementes with thappurtenances scituat lyeing and being in Henley Streete within the borough of Stratford aforesaied. And all my barnes, stables, Orchardes, gardens, landes, tenementes and herediaments whatsoever scituat lyeing and being or to be had receyved, perceyved or taken within the townes and Hamletts, villages, ffieldes and groundes of Stratford upon Avon, Oldstratford, Bushopton and Welcombe or in anie of them in the saied countie of warr And alsoe All that Messuage or tenemente with thappurtenances wherein one John Robinson dwelleth, scituat, lyeing and being in the blackfriers in London nere the Wardrobe and all other my landes tenementes and hereditamentes whatsoever. To Have and to hold All and singular the saied premisses with their Appurtenances unto the saied Susanna Hall for and during the terme of her naturall lief and after her deceas to the first sonne of her bodie lawfullie yssueing and to the heiries Males of the bodie of the saied Second Sonne lawfullie yssyeinge and for defalt of such heires Males of the bodie of the saied third sonne lawfullie yssye ing And for defalt of such issue the same soe to be Reamine to the ffourth sonne, ffythe, sixte and seaventh sonnes of her bodie lawfullie issueing one after Another and and to the heires Males of the bodies of the saied ffourth, ffythe, Sixte and Seaventh sonnes lawfullie yssueing in such mamer as yt ys before Lymitted to be and remaine to the first, second and third Sonns of her bodie and to their heires males. And for defalt of such issue the saied premisses to be and Remaine to my sayed Neede Hall and the heires Males of her bodie Lawfully yssueing for default of…such issue to my daughter Judith and the heires of me the saied William Sahckspere for ever.

Item I gyve unto my wief my second best bed with the furniture; Item I gyve and bequeath to my saied daughter Judith my broad silver gilt bole.

All the rest of my goodes Chattels, Leases, plate, jewles and Household stuffe whatsoever after my dettes and Legasies paied and my funerall expences discharged, I gyve devise and bequeath to my Sonne in Lawe John Hall gent and my daughter Susanna his wief whom I ordaine and make executors of this my Last will and testament. And I doe intreat and Appoint the saied Thomas Russell Esquier and ffrauncis Collins gent to be overseers herof And doe Revoke All former wills and publishe this to be my last will and testament. In witnes whereof I have hereunto put my Seale hand the Daie and Yeare first above Written.

Witness to the publishing hereof: Fra: Collyns, Juilyus Shawe, John Robinson, Hamnet Sadler, robert Whattcott.

By me William Shakespeare

Probatum coram Magistro Williamo Byrde legum doctore Commissario etc xxiido die mensis Junii Anno domini 1616 Juramento Jahannis Hall unius executorum etc. Cui etc de bene etc Jurati Reservata potestate etc Sussane Hall alteri executorum etc cum venerit etc petitur.

Inventarium exhibitum.

A Little Bit O’ History

Posted in Shakespeare Is Human on March 10, 2009 by Saera

Shakespeare’s career  can be broken into three parts:

                                               1587-1592                          His early period – when he first came to London; performed, began play writing

                                              1593-1603                          His middle period – peak of his writing career, wrote comedies and histories, and tragedies

                                               1603-1612                          His late period – wrote comedies, histories, and tragedies, his comedies began to be darker and more complex (some categorized as romances),

William Shakespeare was born in April, 1564 to John and Mary Shakespeare. He later attended school somewhere, perhaps at the King’s New School. While there, he would have learned Latin, history, rhetoric, Greek, and arithmetic, among others. Although he did have a decent education, he did not have any education beyond what was basically preperation school, something akin to senior high school, but not college.

Sometime around 1582, William Shakespeare married a woman named Anne Hathaway, a woman considerably older than himself. She was already pregnant before their marriage, so they were married in haste to avoid public scandal. Their marriage was a strange one – William left Anne behind when he went to London, and there is much speculation of Anne’s infidelity. However,  in a Time  article  titled Rethinking Anne Hathaway, William Lee Adams presents a summary of Shakespearean author Germaine Greer’s defense of Anne in her book Shakespeare’s Wife.  Regardless of the quality of their relationship,  Shakespeare and Hathaway had one girl, then a set of twins  – one boy and one girl. The male twin died while very young, but the daughters lived to adulthood.

Shakespeare came to London around 1588 where he wrote his first plays. According to Stephen Greenblatt in The Norton Shakespeare‘s General Introduction, Shakespeare could have joined an acting company in London. We know for sure that he was an actor in Ben Johnson’s play Every Man in His Humor(performed in 1598) and Sejanus (1603).  By 1594, Shakespeare had become a member of the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, the acting company with which he remained the rest of his life (during King James’ reign, its title changed to The King’s Men).

Although it was common for playwrights to work as freelancers, writing plays for various companies, Shakespeare wrote all his plays for only the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. He averaged about two plays per year.  The company first performed in The Theatre until their lease on that building expired. They then formed a joint-stock company and built a new theatre which became known as the Globe, which opened in 1599.  After around ten years at the Globe, the company moved on to Blackfriars Theatre. Shakespeare was a major shareholder in both the Globe Theatre and Blackfriars. It is from his shares in the theatre that Shakespeare became wealthy, not off of royalties from his plays, although it if were not for his plays’ successes and popularity, it is doubtful that the acting company and theatre would have done well.

Shakespeare did become quite wealthy, eventually owning the second largest house in Stratford and accompanying lands and purchasing a title for his father. Shakespeare’s career basically ended in 1613, and he died  a few years later in 1616.