It is not known when exactly William left Stratford-Upon-Avon, and his young family, for London, but by 1592 he had made a name for himself
in the city as an actor and playwright. However, his first mention in the historical record is hardly flattering, as he was referred to by
Robert Greene in his Groats-Worth of Witte as an "upstart crow" who thinks himself "the only
Shake-scene in a country". It is important to remember that public theatres were still something of a novelty at this time. The first purpose built playhouse, simply called The Theatre, had only opened in 1576.
But the playhouses they were hugely popular. Elizabethan Londoners did not simply watch a play, they completely immersed themselves in it,
cheering at moments of triumph, booing at villains, and even throwing objects at the actors! They also enjoyed eating and drinking during a play and cracked nuts constantly!
By 1595 Shakespeare had written a number of plays, including Romeo and Juliet, and had published two narrative poems, Venus and
Adonis and The Rape Of Lucrece. William was now a member of the acting company The Lord Chamberlain's Men and,
aswell as being their chief dramatist, he was a shareholder in the company. This was one of the
most popular acting companies in London and often performed plays before Queen Elizabeth I and her court.
Word famous replica of
In 1599 the Lord Chamberlain's men built the now famous Globe Theatre in Bankside, Southwark. It was London's finest theatre yet, rivalling
The Swan in size and beauty, and was built to replace The Theatre, which had been dismantled after the ground lease had
expired. The Globe was a round, mostly open air theatre, that could hold up to 3,000 spectators. It had roofed balconies and galleries for
wealthy spectators to sit and a "pit" or "yard" for poor people to stand. These poor spectators became known as "groundlings" and they
would pay a penny to watch a play. Because the theare was open to the elements, it was closed in the winter months. It was also closed, like
all the public theatres, during outbreaks of the plague. Shakespeare owned a share in the theatre and most of his plays were performed there.
Following the death of Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare's company, The Lord Chamberlain's Men, was awarded a royal patent by the new
king, James I, and was renamed The King's Men. It is thought that the great tragedy MacBeth, which is set in Scotland, was written in honour of King James I,
who was also the King of Scotland, and it is believed to have been first performed around 1605.
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