Shakespeare 101

Born in the late 1500s, William Shakespeare went on to become one of the most well-read and highly respected playwrights in the world. Although well over 500 years old, his plays are still being dissected, acted, revered and enjoyed. That’s pretty impressive, especially if you consider that Shakespeare himself was born to illiterate parents!

There are those who claim that Shakespeare could not have written his work, instead thinking his plays, sonnets, and poems were written by either Edward De Vere, Francis Bacon, Mary Sidney Herbert or Christopher Marlowe. At The Freewill Shakespeare Festival, we love to give you the opportunity to watch and decide for yourself!

Shakespeare’s language can be intimidating to some, especially if this is your first live performance. Here are five things to help you enjoy the show:

  • The language of Shakespeare is Early Modern English, which is almost identical to contemporary English. He’s just a little more poetic than most.

  • Did you know that Shakespeare coined many words and phrases? “Arch-villain”, “bump”, “good riddance”, and “for goodness’ sake” are just a few that made it into regular use in the English language.

  • Though studied by intellectuals today, his work was never intended to be a higher form of literature. It was originally written to entertain the working – and often illiterate – lower class.

  • Back in Shakespeare’s time, women were forbidden to act, so all the parts were performed by men.

  • The Heritage Amphitheater mimics the experience of Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre in that only the stage and audience seating area are covered and that you can enjoy a show while munching on popcorn and enjoying a beer from our on-site beer tent!

If all else fails, sit back and enjoy the great outdoors, the furious fight scenes and the amazing costumes and be sure to come back next year to try again! The Freewill Shakespeare Festival offers two new plays every summer, so you’re bound to see something you’ll love.