Picture of students using computers in the library

Sand Sharks and Shakespeare

March 21, 2014

I have discovered the educational experience at USCB is extending into just about every crevice of my life: my passions, my curiosities, my hopes and dreams, my everyday simplicities, my spur of the moment adventures, my revelations, my drives, my releases, my happiness, my excitement… my defining ways. Going to school was as if I packed my bags and headed to some big city in hopes of finding my dream worthy accomplishment, my dream worthy success –the one with my name on it …and then finding it-- and seeing there upon it: my name.

USCB Center for the Arts has paired with Shakespeare Rep to bring William Shakespeare’s brilliant stories - his magnificent creations to life on this beautiful coast...

CFAWS

--and now Sand Sharks (USCB) and friends are partaking: actor, theater team, and audience member alike.

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Charltonsosa

(Above left: Dr. Charlton Artistic Director of Shakespeare Rep)

(Above right: Santiago Sosa to play Macbeth)

And here I find my passion for language and storytelling catching fire, my curiosities of a world long ago-being evoked, my hopes and dreams being inspired, awakened, rediscovered, fulfilled, --my everyday simplicities taking on new meaning, and my spur of the moment adventures becoming a new description for my moment to moment course of the day.

 

Macbeth

Staring upon the story of “Macbeth” (opening the first season of Shakespeare Rep) one of my strongest passions and curiosities, at this point, is rooted in the question of: who is this incredible person that wrote like this? Who is he that knew the power of words so well as to evoke emotions, as to master a structure so poetically truthful-revealing-guiding-meaningful-powerful-evoking? What’s his deal?

His name is: WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE and we all learn a bit about him as we age, or at least become acquainted with his name somewhere along the way...

Yet once any one person is given the gift to see how well he has captured each of our stories --yes: yours... and mine... and your neighbor’s… and your neighbor’s neighbor and their families and friends and enemies and so on…once we finally see the gift of our story, in any of the over 30 different plays created 400 years ago…it is easy to find yourself actively seeking, irritatingly curious, overwhelmingly desirous-- to know and understand the story of his: the writer’s, the story of William Shakespeare-- the story of his life.

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Now, how does one go about learning who William Shakespeare is? A man who lived hundreds and hundreds of years ago? Don’t panic! We will (no pun intended) take this step by step: If there is one thing I have learned - with an absolute victory - from my mother, it is to never underestimate children’s books as wonderfully powerful sourcebooks. Sometimes in our effort to gain knowledge --we will lug a book ¼ to even ½ our own weight from the shelf and to the desk, ambitious and determined. Then, as we page through -- our hair willingly begins pulling itself out while we try to comprehend unfamiliar words and references. As we struggle and muck our way through the swampy overload of information, our ambition and determination for knowledge metamorphoses into a heavy sedative like agent encouraging the retiring of our quest back to the unknown and back to the unsought.

So I have utilized several of these sources and am thoroughly pleased to share with you the discoveries I have made. While many of these facts and accounts of history you may be familiar with I hope that you may find a new tid-bit to tantalize your surprise, and delightfully capture your interest. I have intentionally tried to lay these learnings in a format pleasing to your eye, easy to read through, and easy to put to memory so that you may share your newly acquired knowledge with others (perhaps during the pre-dining before your evening attendance to Shakespeare Rep’s performance of “Macbeth” April 23rd-April 26th).

INDEED the most widely known plays and the most performed plays of our world are those of our great playwright: William Shakespeare-- with his writings translated into over 100 languages, his truths still seem to seamlessly resound from over 400 years ago.

April 23rd, 1564: William Shakespeare was born in Stratford, upon Avon, England (a small prosperous market town on the beautiful river of Avon). William was the third born child and first born son of 8 children into their middle-class family, sadly his two older siblings died in infancy and so he became the eldest surviving child. His parents were: father, John Shakespeare (glove maker, wool merchant, and high bailiff –similar to a mayor today- for the local government) and mother, Mary Arden (daughter of a prosperous farmer of a nearby town). Growing up in this countryside exposed William to a world of knowledge and appreciation for nature which would later surface in his writing.

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1570 (W.S. age 6) William attended the local Stratford grammar school, where he learned to read and write. In school William would learn Latin, Greek, and about many of the subjects he became inspired and equipped to write about. Learning Latin at the time prepared students to go to a university in order to pursue a career in politics, law, medicine, teaching, or the Clergy—evidence perhaps of the boy’s preparation for a hopeful and ambitious future.

1576 (W.S. age 12) William’s father’s business began to fail and the family found itself in debt. William’s father, John, lost his position of government in the town and life became difficult for some time managing between care for the entire family, dealing with debtors, and developing a hurt reputation.

1579 (W.S. age 15) to 1592 (W.S. age 28) William’s life from this span of time is largely unknown and unrecorded: it is surmised his endeavors in this time span, ranged from everything from that of law, soldiering, medicine, gardening, to even his father’s endeavors of fabric and leather work. These speculations of William’s involvement resulted from William’s thorough knowledge of these areas so strongly reflected in his plays.

1582 (W.S. age 18) It is recorded that William married a woman, Anne Hathaway, this year in November. Anne Hathaway age 26 at the time was from a nearby town. When she married William she was already about 3 months along with his first child.

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1583 (W.S. age 19) this year in May, William and Anne, had their first daughter, Susanna.

1585 (W.S. age 21) this year in February, William and Anne had twins – a boy, Hamnet, and a girl, Judith. (Shakespeare’s entire family lived under the one roof he and his family grew up in.)

Somewhere between the 1580’s-1590’s(W.S. 20’s) William left his family in Stratford to work and live in London building his theater career (as both an actor and playwright) as at the time under Queen Elizabeth the arts were receiving much attention, freedom, and growth from the Queen who adored and encouraged the arts.

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It is said that growing up William had involvement, exposure, and knowledge of the theater from theater troupes that toured to his own town of Stratford. It is also believed that part of his adult decision to pursue theater work in London was to gain prosperity to both provide for his family and rebuild the family name.

It is speculated when William first arrived in London he worked as an usher to wealthy audience members, then a prompter of lines for the actors, and eventually joined as an actor himself and only began writing his own scripts on the side of these jobs...

In the 1590’s (W.S. mid 20’s early 30’s): By the beginning of these years William had already began to have considerable wealth in his theatrical successesas a playwright. Despite the plague in 1592 which closed the theaters from 1592-1594 William still had success writing poetry.

1594 (W.S. age 30): William joined the Lord’s Chamberlain Men (who would in 1603 become known as The King’s Men for King James who inherited the English Throne after Queen Elizabeth’s death). William wrote about two plays a year for eighteen years straight, for the theater company to perform, and was also a sharer of the company, not to mention well-liked by his company companions who called him “modest and good-natured”.

1596 (W.S. age 32) William’s only son, Hamnet, passed away at age 11.

1599 (W.S. age 35): TheGlobe Theater (which William was a share-holder for) was built and earned great success.

1601 (W.S. age 37): William’s father passed away.

1607 (W.S. age 43): William’s eldest daughter Susanna married a well-respected physician and had William’s first grandchild (a girl) one year later.

1608 (W.S. age 44): William’s mother passed away.

1613 (W.S. age 49): The Globe Theater burned down and was rebuilt in one year with a tile (not thatch straw) roof J

1616 (W.S. age 51): This year on March 25th, William finalized and signed his will.

April 23rd, 1616 (W.S. age 52): William Shakespeare passes away on the anniversary of his birth at age 52 (after “a merry meeting” with friends).

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Interesting facts:

  • William Shakespeare (who at the time only wrote for his plays to be performed and not to be published and read) became rich from the success of his acting company not the sale of his plays. It was not until 1623 “…to keep the memory of so worthy a Friend and Fellow alive” Shakespeare’s fellow actor’s, John Heminges and Henry Condell, published the First Folio (an edition which held a collection -36 of Shakespeare’s plays).
  • There are those who deny Shakespeare could be the author of the plays and poems he was said to have created, this claim is based in a belief that only someone with a court or university education would be capable of such writing. Three prominent Anti-Stratfordians who believe this naturally have the names: Looney, Battey, and Silliman.

References:

Bradenburg, A. (1999). William Shakespeare & the Globe. USA: Harper Collins Publishing.

Chrisp, P. (2004). DK Eyewitness Books: Shakespeare. New York, NY: DK Publishing.

Miller, A., & Mikhnushev, A. (2003). Shakespeare: great English playwright & poet. Broomall, PA: Mason Crest Publishers.

Shakespeare, W., Kastan, D. S., Kastan, M., & Harrington, G. (2000). Poetry for young people: William Shakespeare. New York, NY: Sterling Publishing.

...

"To thine own self be true,
And it must follow, as the night the day,
Thou canst not then be false to any man.
Farewell. My blessing season this in thee!" - Polonius (Hamlet Act I Scene III)

Yours Truly: A Sand Shark of a Shakespeare Soul,

                                                                                Erin Dailey