by Nancy from Alexandria
William Shakespeare was born in 1564, in the small town of Stratford-upon-Avon, England. He moved to London, when he was a young man, leaving behind his wife, Anne Hathaway, and three children. In London, from 1592, Shakespeare helped manage a company of actors. They performed at the famous Globe Theatre on the River Thames. Shakespeare also wrote plays for the company and sometimes acted in them.
In Shakespeare's time, plays were a popular form of entertainment. The theatres had no roof and no lighting, so performances were held during the afternoons and early evenings. Rich people had seats close to the actors, but poor people had to stand. Women were not allowed to act, so young boys played their parts. The theatres were very noisy and the plays had to be very sad or very funny to hold the attention of the audience.
Many of Shakespeare's plays are tragedies. One of the most famous is Romeo and Juliet, the story of two lovers who die because thire families are enemies. There is another tragedy. It is Macbeth, the story of a Scottish lord who kills his king so he himself can become ruler. This leads Macbeth to even worse crimes.
Shakespeare's other popular plays are comedies: lighthearted stories that make the audience laugh. One of these is A Midsummer Nights Dream, in which fairies help to make people fall in love. In Twelfth Night, As You Like It, The Tempest, The Merchant of Venice and Much Ado about Nothing, disguises, tricks and magic help to bring lovers together.
In Shakespeare's comedies, love always wins and good always defeats evil. The stories also reflect a time when wives had to obey their husbands, and fathers could choose husbands for their daughters.
Most of the plays in this collection were written quite early in Shakespeares career, between about 1595 and 1600.
Shakespeare died in 1616, more than 350 years ago, but his plays are still read and performed all over the world. Many people believe he was the greatest writer in the English language.
Page created on 2/18/2007 12:00:00 AM
Last edited 2/18/2007 12:00:00 AM
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