Hmm . . . so why do we have to
read this stuff anyway?
• I mean, he’s just some
dead old guy.
• What makes his stuff so
great that we keep
reading it 400 years
later?
• And another thing. I don’t
get his language – all that
old English stuff.
• Why can’t he just talk
English?
So, what if we told you that The
Simpsons is a modern-day
equivalent to Shakespeare?
What? How can that be?
Shakespeare
The Simpsons
Both appealed to wide audiences
•Wrote between the late 1500’s
and early 1600’s
•Produced between the late ‘80’s
and now
Both contain low
brow humor
– slapstick, body
language type
•Shakespeare’s plays
Were performed for both
•The Simpsons is a cartoon
Queen Elizabeth and then
King James when he took
the throne
Both contain sophisticated humor
•A team of people create it
•Shakespeare
Both use allusions (references to
wrote plays
well-known people, historical events,
or stories) to help people
understand the events or even laugh
Both create characters and situations
that reflect what people’s daily struggles are like
So, what does an ordinary guy like me need to know to get this stuff?
• Shakespeare wrote about
human experiences we can
still relate to like war, power,
love, betrayal, friendship,
greed, suicide, and
prejudice.
• Shakespeare invented
countless words and
expressions we still use
today.
• Shakespeare’s plays still
inspire modern movies
today.
• His works are known
worldwide by people of all
ages, cultures, and
backgrounds.
Who was Shakespeare?
• Born on April 23,
1564 in Stratfordupon-Avon, England.
• Died April 23, 1616.
• He married Anne
Hathaway and had
three children:
Susana, Judith, and
Hamnet.
Shakespeare’s Career
• Worked in London as actor,
writer, and part owner of the
theater company, the Lord
Chamberlain’s Men.
• Wrote many sonnets.
– What is a sonnet?
• A fourteen-lined poem with a
carefully patterned rhyme scheme
• Wrote three types of plays:
Histories, Comedies, and
Tragedies.
Shakespeare's Theater
• The Globe opened in
1599.
• There was no curtain
and very few props.
• Bladders of pig’s blood
could be punctured
during stage fights for
special effects.
• Costumes were an
elaborate explosion of
color.
Shakespeare’s Actors
• Professional actors
were admired and went
through rigorous
training.
• Actors usually had no
more than two weeks
to learn a new
production.
• Actors played the same
kind of role in each
play – They specialized
in one type of
character.
No Women Allowed!
• Adolescent boys trained to play female
parts until puberty because women
were not allowed to take part in
theatre – women’s innocence and
purity needed to be protected.
Shakespeare’s Audience
• Shakespeare’s plays were for
everyone!
• Commoners paid a penny to
watch from the ground.
• Nearly 1000 people could
stand there, and as bathing
was uncommon in those
days, you can imagine the
result.
• The wealthy paid more to sit
in the balcony.
Watching the Plays
• People ate and drank
during performances, even
buying snacks and beer
from peddlers.
• Spectators wanted thrills
and horrors, but they also
enjoyed a good laugh or a
good cry.
• In fact, if they were
disappointed, they’d throw
apples or shout
obscenities!
Pictures of the Globe
I think I get it now . . .
• Shakespeare was a big
deal in Elizabethan
England because his
plays were so exciting
and packed full of
comedy and tragedy.
• Today his works are still
entertaining and we can
even relate to the themes
he wrote about back in
the 1500s and 1600s!
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Hmm . . . so why do we have to read this stuff anyway?