Romeo and Juliet background info

April 23, 1564: William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-on-Avon to John and Mary Shakespeare. There is a baptismal registration for Shakespeare, but few other written records exist. He was the 3rd of 8 children
Much of Shakespeare’s younger years remain a mystery, but there are rumors about what jobs he may have worked. schoolmaster, lawyer, butcher apprentice
1582: According to church records, Shakespeare married Anne Hathaway.
At the time of their marriage, William was eighteen and Anne was twenty-six.
William and Anne have three children together (Susanna, Hamnet, and Judith).
August 1596: young Hamnet died at the age of eleven. The cause of his death is unknown.
Shakespeare left his family in 1591 to pursue writing in London.
In 1592, Shakespeare began developing a reputation as an actor and playwright. As theatres were beginning to grow in popularity, it is probable that Shakespeare began earning a living writing plays (adapting old ones and working with others on new ones).
1594: William became involved with a company of actors named “The Lord Chamberlain’s Men.” This group later (1603) changed their name to “The King’s Men.”
In 1598, Shakespeare, in collaboration with other actors, designed and built The Globe. This circular theatre was the first of its kind, breaking away from the traditional rectangular theatres.
1612: Shakespeare moved back to Stratford where he retired both rich and famous.
1616: William Shakespeare dies on his birthday.
At the time of his death, Shakespeare is said to have written around 37 plays and 154 sonnets. He is also known to have contributed over two thousand words to the English language.
Elizabethan era •reign of Queen Elizabeth I (some consider it the Golden Age of England)
The First Elizabethan Theater: “The Wooden O” •Built in 1576, first permanent stage in London•Built by James Burbage•Shaped in form of a tavern•1599 theatre torn down, but Shakespeare’s company used it to build The Globe Theatre
The Globe •Round/polygonal building with a roofless courtyard•No artificial light•Three stories high – upper levels were for the wealthy•The “groundlings” paid a penny a piece to stand on the floor in front of the stage (800 people)•Large platform stage•Back of platform was curtained off inner stage•Two door entrances/exits on either side of curtain•Small balcony/upper stage•Elaborate costumes but no props•Young boys played the parts of women; women weren’t allowed to be actors
Shakespeare’s Globe burned down, but its foundation was discovered in 1990. It gave us many clues to the Elizabethan experience such as hazelnut shells! A replica has since been rebuilt. You can visit it and see a play today.
•Romeo and Juliet is based on Arthur Brooke’s long narrative poem the Tragicall Historye of Romeus and Juliet (1562).
•The play has a highly moral tone: disobedience, as well as fate, leads to the deaths of two lovers.

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