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  • Hey there, I'm Mike Rugnetta, this is Crash Course Theater and remember that guy we said

  • we weren't going to talk about in the last episode?

  • Well, we're gonna talk about him for a while now.

  • I mean, of course, Yorick's pal Shakespeare.

  • And yes, Shakespeare actually wrote all of Shakespeare's plays, though sometimes he

  • had help.

  • But hey, you don't become the presiding genius of English theatre without some assistance

  • Today, we'll cover Shakespeare's biography, look at playwriting in Elizabethan England,

  • and take on a genre our boy Bill helped invent: the history play.

  • So once more into the breach!

  • Who's with me?

  • Typical!

  • INTRO So, who is this Shakespeare guy, anyway?

  • We first hear of him on April 26thor 23rdor even a little earlierin 1564, when

  • he's baptized in the sleepy market town of Stratford-upon-Avon.

  • His father, John, was a glover, and did ok for himself.

  • John held a number of civic positions including ale-taster of the borough, and eventually

  • mayoran unorthodox political ascendancy, but hey whatever works!

  • John's wife, Mary, was the daughter of reasonably wealthy landowners.

  • And Shakespeare had four younger siblings who lived to adulthood including one, Edmund,

  • who was an actor but died at 27.

  • At the age of six or seven, William starts attending the Stratford Grammar School, where

  • much of the instruction was in Latin.

  • He almost certainly read Plautus's comedies and Seneca's tragedies.

  • Some scholars think he leaves school at 13, some think at 15.

  • Maybe he works as a butcher; maybe he works for his father.

  • In 1582, he marries Anne HathawayNO THE OTHER ANNE HATHAWAYwho is 8 years older

  • than him, and 6 months pregnant.

  • She gives birth to Susanna in 1583, and the twins Judith and Hamnet a year and a half

  • later.

  • Hamnet!

  • At some point after the birth of the twins, Shakespeare moves to London.

  • And no one knows why!

  • There's one story about how he had to go to London because he poached a deer?

  • There are also rumors that he joins up with traveling players.

  • But we don't really know anything more until 1592, when he's a popular actor and the

  • author of several playsand people are making fun of him by calling himShake-scene.”

  • Harsh.

  • Around this time, one of the twins, Hamnet, dies at the age of 11.

  • Hamnet!

  • And when the theaters closed due to the plague, Shakespeare writes some long poems.

  • When theaters reopen, he joins the Lord Chamberlain's Men as an actor, a playwright, and a shareholder.

  • By 1597, Shakespeare has made enough money to buy the second fanciest place in Stratford-upon-Avon,

  • In 1611, he retires to Stratford proper; and again, no one knows why.

  • And in 1616, at the age of 52, he dies.

  • His anti-grave robbing epitaph reads: Good friend, for Jesus' sake forbear,

  • To dig the dust enclosed here.

  • Blest be the man that spares these stones, And cursed be he that moves my bones.

  • So, how did Shakespeare become a playwright?

  • It's hard to say for sure, but traveling players performed frequently in Stratford

  • when he was a kid.

  • If he really did join a traveling company during his lost years, it would have exposed

  • him to all sorts of plays, and the three or four production techniques that English theater

  • had at the time.

  • Playwriting wasn't a prestigious occupation in Elizabethan England.

  • A lot of plays were written in these decades as there was a hunger for novelty.

  • Established theaters were still a new thing, and these companies had no repertory of classics

  • to fall back on.

  • So each company required new plays every couple of weeks.

  • Writing plays was often a group effort, and works from the beginning and end of Shakespeare's

  • career were written this way... more collaboratively.

  • Though it had the potential to make a lot of money, many playwrights often depended

  • on side jobs or patronage.

  • Shakespeare made his money not so much as a writer, but as a shareholder in the company.

  • He definitely didn't make his cash in royalties.

  • Most plays weren't even published, and most of the ones that were appeared in cheap quartos—a

  • name for booklets made up of pieces of paper printed on eight sides and folded up to become

  • four double-sided pages.

  • Many of these quarto publications were based on pirated copies and bad memories and are

  • full of error or variation, though some are accurate.

  • Occasionally, several different versions of a play would get published, like an early

  • quarto ofHamletthat reads: “To be, or not to be,/ There's the point.”

  • I know, Yorick.

  • These quartos were usually published anonymously, and even if an author's name did appear,

  • he didn't receive any money from them.

  • Copyright wouldn't be invented for about another hundred years, by the way.

  • And yeah, any playwright of this era is definitely a “he”.

  • In 1623, seven years after Shakespeare's death, two fellow actors in the King's Men,

  • John Heminges and Henry Condell, decided to collect and publish Shakespeare's works

  • in an authoritative edition, to honor their friend.

  • Their luxury volume, known as the First Folio, included 36 plays organized as Comedies, Histories,

  • and Tragedies.

  • It left out Two Noble Kinsmen and Pericles, which are common now, as well as Cardenio,

  • the one Shakespeare play that's definitely lost.

  • We'll start with the histories because they were some of the earliest plays Shakespeare

  • wrote: King John, Richard II, the two Henry IVs, Henry V, the three Henry VIs and Richard

  • III.

  • Henry VIII was written a lot later.

  • With the exception of King John and Edward III, the rest of these plays describe the

  • rise of the Tudors, the royal house of Elizabeth I, queen during the early years of Shakespeare's

  • career.

  • Why are thesehistory plays,” but not Julius Caesar or Macbeth or Cymbeline?

  • Well, these distinctions are fuzzy.

  • They were created by the editors of the First Folio, not Shakespeare himself.

  • But as scholar Lily Campbell puts it: “Tragedy is concerned with the doings of men which

  • in philosophy are discussed under ethics; history with the doings of men which in philosophy

  • are discussed under politics.”

  • So Richard II is a history because it's about Richard's eventual defeat by Bolingbroke,

  • but Macbeth is a tragedy because it's about Macbeth's personal conflicts.

  • By the way, this isn't really a theater.

  • So I'm perfectly comfortable saying Macbeth.

  • I'm no longer perfectly comfortable saying Macbeth.

  • What was the point of history plays?

  • Well, a straightforward history play is a patriotic exercise that celebrates past greatness

  • and commiserates over past suffering, without stopping to question God's providence.

  • History plays were designed to keep people in line: Thomas Heywood wrote in the 1612

  • An Apology for Actors,” that these playsare writ with this aymeto teach their

  • subjects obedience to their king, to shew the people the untimely ends of such as have

  • moved tumults, commotions, and insurrections, to present them with the flourishing estate

  • of such as live in obedience, exhorting them to allegiance.”

  • basically, when it comes to tumults and insurrections, don't start none, won't be none.

  • But Shakespeare isn't that straightforward.

  • A couple of his plays are about men who usurp the throne from kings and then become kings

  • themselves, so his works are hardly a wholesale condemnation of tumult, or a rubber stamp

  • on the divine right of kings.

  • Early critics claimed that he upheld the Tudor myth, but later ones have argued that he's

  • up to something more subversive.

  • For an example, let's look at one of his best-known history plays, “Richard III.”

  • in the Thoughtbubble: Edward IV is back on the throne after putting

  • down a rebellion.

  • His little brother Richard, aka, “that foul bunchback'd toad,” isn't psyched about

  • it.

  • Richard contrives to have his other brother, Clarence, sent to the Tower of London and

  • then seduces Lady Anne, even though he murdered her father and her brotherand she knows

  • it.

  • Richard has Clarence drowned in a large cask of wine, which helps push Edward IV into an

  • early grave.

  • Edward's sons will succeed him, though, so Richard has more murdering to do!

  • After arranging to have a bunch of people executed, Richard has the two princes held

  • in the Tower.

  • He tries to convince the people that the princes are illegitimate and he is the rightful heir

  • to the throne.

  • The other lords more or less go for it, but just to be sure, Richard has the princes murdered

  • anyway.

  • Now that he's king, Richard poisons his wife so he can make a more dynastically savvy

  • marriage.

  • But all this villainy starts to catch up with him, and rebellions break out.

  • One of them is led by Richmond whospoiler alertwill become Henry VII.

  • On the battlefield, Richard is haunted by his victims, famously offers his kingdom for

  • a horse, and then dies, with Richmond announcing: “Now civil wounds are stopped; peace lives

  • again.

  • / That she may long live here, God say 'Amen.'”

  • Thanks, Thoughtbubble.

  • So a happy ending!

  • Unless you're Richard.

  • Or one of the many people that he murdered.

  • It's easy enough to read this play as rah-rah Tudor propaganda.

  • Boo Richard!

  • Yay Richmond!

  • But while the play shows Richard as a tyrant and a usurper, it isn't a wholly negative

  • portrayal.

  • Shakespeare's Richard is a genius and a charmerand a villain and a killer.

  • So while the historians were busy confirming his wickedness, Shakespeare also shows him

  • as attractive and theatrical.

  • He's the character you can't stop watching and the one that great actors want to play.

  • Also, quick aside, people used to accuse Shakespeare of making up the fact that Richard had a hunchback

  • just to make him seem extra evil, but a few years ago they found Richard's bones in

  • a parking lotand it turns out while he may not have been a full on hunchback, he

  • did have scoliosis.

  • While we don't know all the circumstances of where and when and how Shakespeare became

  • a writer, his early work shows him taking the straightforward form of the chronicle

  • play and molding it into something more exciting and ambitious.

  • He added breathtaking poetry, penetrating insight and fun scenes of people being killed.

  • In wine.

  • Next time we'll look at how those scenes were probably acted, and we'll discuss Shakespeare's

  • tragedies.

  • But until thencurtain!

Hey there, I'm Mike Rugnetta, this is Crash Course Theater and remember that guy we said

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ストレートアウトタストラットフォード-アップオン-エイボン - シェイクスピアの初期の日々。クラッシュ・コース・シアター#14 (Straight Outta Stratford-Upon-Avon - Shakespeare's Early Days: Crash Course Theater #14)

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    Pei-Yi Lin に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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