Cover image for Shakespeare, the player : a life in the theatre
Shakespeare, the player : a life in the theatre
Southworth, John.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Stroud : Sutton, 2000.
Physical Description:
xi, 354 pages : illustrations, portraits ; 25 cm
Format :


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PR2894 .S648 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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This text argues that in the many analyses of Shakespeare's life, one vital factor has been overlooked; his profession as a player. The author asserts that Shakespeare cannot be separated from his profession nor his works separated from the context and original purpose of their creation. His life as a player must be taken into account, as there is no other explanation for how an inexperienced man from a small Warwickshire town with no theatrical background or training came to have such command of theatrical ways and means, such knowledge and understanding of the poetic and dramatic techniques of his predecessors and contemporaries, that within a few years, he was able to surpass them to write the greatest plays in the language.

Author Notes

John Southworth has combined a lengthy career in the theatre as an actor and director with research and writing on the early history of popular entertainment

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Often taught only as an author of unique genius, Shakespeare is here rounded out in this treatment of his life as an actor. Read in conjunction with more traditional biographies (e.g., Park Honan's Shakespeare: A Life, LJ 2/15/99), this work gives a much-needed view of Shakespeare as a playwright, player, and shareholder in a popular theater, revealing how each of these roles influenced the others. The author, himself an actor, gives valuable insight into the actor's craft and creates plausible arguments for how specific plays would have been performed and which roles Shakespeare himself may have played. While many academics have seen Shakespeare's career as an actor as a short aberration or an embarrassment, Southworth glories in the power and vitality of the Elizabethan stage, showing how the theater influenced the structure, subject, and construction of Shakespeare's plays. This work gives the reader a greater understand of the plays as dramatic productions intended to be seen and heard rather than simply as literary works to be read. Recommended for public and academic libraries.DKaren E. S. Lempert, "Facing History and Ourselves," Brookline, MA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

With this biography, Southworth refashions the historical record from a refreshing new perspective that is bound to raise academic eyebrows. An experienced actor and director, the author casts Shakespeare in his own mold and considers his career in terms of a "pre-literary world" in which play production was a collaborative effort of acting companies that often toured outside London and presented plays written for the stage rather than the printing press. Southworth focuses on concrete realities of Shakespeare's development as actor-playwright-director and as shareholder plagued by theater closings, censorship, shifts in patronage, and business disputes. Chronologically, the author supposes that Shakespeare spent "the lost years" as apprentice to Worcester's men; that with the Admiral's company, he performed in plays by Marlowe, Kyd, and Peele, hence their echoes in his early works (listed in Appendix A); that as an author, he wrote with company casting in mind; and that he played r oles (dukes, kings, the Ghost) that allowed him offstage time to direct. With scholarly notes, appendixes, a reading list, index, and numerous illustrations, this carefully reasoned work deserves the attention of theater practitioners and readers at all levels. F. K. Barasch emeritus, Bernard M. Baruch College, CUNY

Table of Contents

Acknowledgementsp. vii
1 The Invisible Manp. 1
2 Killing the Calfp. 13
3 The Apprenticep. 22
4 Admiral's Manp. 30
5 The Rose, 1592p. 46
6 The Player Poetp. 58
7 Chamberlain's Manp. 84
8 He that Plays the Kingp. 115
9 The Globe, 1599-1601p. 142
10 Travelling Manp. 175
11 King's Manp. 204
12 Blackfriarsp. 228
13 The Man Shakespearep. 249
A Recollections of Marlowe, Kyd and Peele in Shakespeare's early playsp. 256
B Conjectural programme of performances of 'harey the vi' at the Rose in 1592/3p. 266
C Correspondences in word, image or thought between Shakespeare's plays of 1593/4 and the Sonnetsp. 268
D Conjectural doubling plots for Romeo and Juliet, Henry V and Troilus and Cressidap. 272
Abbreviationsp. 278
Notesp. 280
Further Readingp. 319
Indexp. 320