Shakespeare Then and Now

William Shakespeare is regarded by many as one of the greatest writers of English literature who ever lived. Born in Stratford-upon-Avon, Shakespeare is often referred to as the "Bard of Avon" and as England's national poet. His plays have been translated into virtually every language on Earth and are performed more frequently than the works of any other playwright. Some of his most famous works include Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear, The Taming of the Shrew, The Tempest, Coriolanus, Hamlet.


  • Macbeth is said to be a "cursed" play. The origin of the curse is hard to pinpoint, but many tragedies have been associated with productions of the play. For instance, during the course of a production featuring actor John Gielgud in 1942, three actors died mysteriously, one of them on stage, and the costume designer died by suicide on opening night. It is considered bad luck to say the word "Macbeth" inside a theater.
  • Laurence Olivier played Macbeth in a 1955 production at the Shakespeare Memorial Theatre in Shakespeare's birthplace, Stratford-upon-Avon. The production and Olivier's performance are credited with reviving the popularity of live theater in England.
  • In 1999, the Royal Shakespeare Company presented Macbeth with Antony Sher as its star. The actor portrayed Macbeth in modern dress.
  • The saying "steal my thunder" has its origin in the play Macbeth. John Dennis invented the sound effect by taking a thin sheet of metal and shaking it during a 1704 production of Appius and Virginia. Macbeth.

Romeo and Juliet

  • The Montagues and Capulets were first referenced in Dante's poetry, not Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Divine Comedy .
  • Romeo and Juliet is a play about young love. How young Juliet is can be somewhat jarring to modern readers: She's only 13. Shakespeare was inspired by The Tragical l Historye of Romeus and Iuliet (1562) by Arthur Brooke, but in this work, both Romeo and Juliet are 16.

King Lear

  • Shakespeare based King Lear on an anonymous play entitled King Leir . Nahum Tate also had a version of the story with a happy ending. Until Shakespeare became well-known as England's most prolific playwright, Tate's version was preferred to Shakespeare's because of its ending.

The Taming of the Shrew

  • Michael Bogdanov directed a modern-dress production of The Taming of the Shrewin Olivier Award for Best Director in 1979.
  • The Taming of the Shrew virtually disappeared from the stage between 1663's production on the London stage and 1844, when it finally returned to the stage in its original form. Although the original text was not performed for almost 200 years, the story of the play was frequently adapted for other productions.

The Tempest

  • It is believed that Shakespeare based The Tempest on an actual shipwreck. A True Reportory of the Wrack and Redemption of Sir Thomas Gates, Knight (1609) by William Strachey is an account of the wreck of the Sea Venture in Bermuda. Scholars believe that Shakespeare read this account and was inspired by it to write The Tempest.
  • Several common phrases were coined in The Tempest, into thin air" brave new world."


  • Coriolanus is set in the time of the early Roman Republic and is widely considered to be the greatest political play in Shakespeare's repertoire. As with many of his plays, at its heart is a personal tragedy. In this case, that tragedy is a man with the curse of emotional blindness.
  • Shakespeare's Coriolanus is based on Plutarch.
  • One of the most recent productions of this play starred Tom Hiddleston,
  • T.S Eliot wrote a poem in two parts aboutCoriolanuscalled Coriolan. Coriolanus in The Waste Land . believed that Coriolanus was a superior play to Hamlet.


  • Hamlet is produced more than any other play in the world. It is said that Hamlet is being performed somewhere every minute of every day.
  • Shakespeare takes the opportunity to do some advertising for himself in Hamlet. Julius Caesar when
  • Many great actors have portrayed Hamlet throughout history, including Jonathan Pryce, John Gielgud, and Sir Henry Irving.