As a form of entertainment, theatre has been around since the dawn of civilization. You can argue that cavemen telling stories around the fire was a form the theatre. The Greek countryside is teaming with ancient arenas where plays were performed. Yet through all of theatrical history, one playwright stands alone. That would be William Shakespeare, the Bard of Avon. Shakespeare is one of the most recognizable names around the world but how much do you really know about old Will? Time to brush up your Shakespeare.
Shakespeare By The Numbers
The exact day of Shakespeare’s birthday is a bit of a guess but those in the know put it at April 23rd, 1564 since there are records that the baby bard was baptized on April 26, 1564. We do know that he died on April 23rd 1616 so there is some poetry there. In 1582, the 18 year-old Shakespeare married the 26-year-old Anne Hathaway. She was already three months pregnant. He had three children. His son Hamnet died in 1596 but his two daughters Susanna and Judith survived.
In terms of what sprung from his pen, Shakespeare is credited with 37 plays, 154 sonnets and two long epic like poems. His first play was most likely Henry VI, Part One. His last was The Two Noble Kinsmen.
Shakespeare By The Words
Writers have certain license to create words. After all, who is going to stop them? It is whether those words can stand the test of time that matters. Clearly, everyone was speaking the King’s English during the time of Shakespeare but that doesn’t mean they were using all the words we use today. You can trace the first appearance of the following words right to Shakespeare’s plays: gloomy, laughable, majestic, lonely, hurry, radiance, generous, frugal, critical, courtship, zany, rant and undress.
What good are words unless you can use them in a sentence? Shakespeare coined many a phrase that is still quipped to this day such as, “all that glitters is not gold,” “bag and baggage,” “brave new world,” “cold comfort,” “dead as a doornail,” “dog will have his day,” “forever and a day,” “jealousy is the green-eyed monster,” “heart of gold,” “in a pickle” and “hoist with his own petard.”
Shakespeare By The Movies
If you’re an actor who has achieved a certain level of success, then you’ll get to perform your own version of Shakespeare. Laurence Olivier, Mel Gibson, Kenneth Brannagh all did their versions of Hamlet. You can find also find multiple cinematic versions of A Midsummer’s Night Dream, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, King Ling and Richard the III. What you might not know is that many popular films have been borrowed from the bard. Forbidden Planet is The Tempest, West Side Story is Romeo and Juliet, Ten Things I Hate About You is The Taming of the Shrew and The Lion King is Hamlet. Add it all up and there is a world of Shakespeare waiting for you to devour.