Shaking it Up With Shakespeare: An Introduction to the Bard

by Kasey Kopp, dramaturg

This week we’d like to give you a little introduction to the man that is deemed one of the greatest playwright’s of all time, the one and only William Shakespeare. Shakespeare is the author of our Young Company show A Midsummer Night’s Dream and although we’ve had to make some edits for the sake of time (we only get 50 minutes!), our director, Nat Reed, has stayed true to his script and story.

Writing and performing in London in the late 1500’s and early 1600’s, Shakespeare made a very significant impact on drama, literature and the English language as a whole. No doubt you’re familiar with some of his other famous works: Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth, Hamlet, and many more. Here are some fun facts about Shakespeare and his influence!

  • Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England in the spring of 1545.
  • It is thought that the Greek and Latin stories he studied in grammar school were used for inspiration in writing A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It was very common for Shakespeare to draw on previously told stories or events in creating and writing his plays.
  • Shakespeare moved to London and began playwriting and even acting in a troupe called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. They performed for Queen Elizabeth, who was a great lover of the arts.
  • Right after Shakespeare moved to London, theatres throughout the city were closed due to the plague! Fortunately, the plague subsided and the theatres reopened around 1594.
  • Shakespeare was the joint owner of the Globe Theatre—it burned down during a performance of Henry V when a cannon misfired and caught the whole theatre on the fire! A very real (and unfortunate) special effect!
  • It is believed that Shakespeare authored around 38 plays and over 150 poems and sonnets! That’s a lot of writing!
  • The first collection of Shakespeare’s work was officially published as the First Folio in 1623, seven years after his death.
  • It is said that Shakespeare introduced nearly 2,000 words into the English language. Even though we don’t use all the words in everyday language, he also introduced commonly used phrases like “one fell swoop,” “vanish into thin air,” and “flesh and blood.”

Make sure to check back next week to learn more about how we’ve adapted Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for the BYU stage!

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