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  • "My bounty is as boundless as the sea.

  • My love is deep.

  • The more I give to thee, the more I have,

  • for both are infinite."

  • When we made Shakespeare in Love,

  • an entertaining and fictional look

  • at William Shakespeare's life,

  • myself and the entire cast learned a great deal

  • about William Shakespeare

  • and the magical passionate world in which he lived.

  • We are very pleased to have the opportunity

  • to bring this world into your classroom.

  • We're going to take a look

  • at the playwright's life and his works,

  • and also attempt to unlock

  • the emotional power in Shakespeare's words.

  • By using examples

  • from his classic play Romeo and Juliet,

  • we'll try to show you

  • just how forcefully they speak to us today.

  • But the first question we need to ask

  • before we embark on our journey

  • is why Shakespeare?

  • Why out of those thousands upon thousands of writers

  • that have come and gone over the past 400 years

  • does Shakespeare continue to be performed

  • in every corner of the world?

  • Why are we still so fascinated by these plays

  • that were written so long ago?

  • The most likely reason is probably that Shakespeare,

  • better than any writer before or since,

  • understood exactly what makes people tick.

  • And he was able to transform that understanding

  • into the most powerful portrayals

  • of human relationships ever written.

  • But what do we really know about Shakespeare, the man?

  • Surely with all those great plays

  • and over 4 centuries of scholarly research,

  • there must be enough biographical material

  • to fill a library, right?

  • Wrong.

  • Believe it or not, every fact we know for sure

  • about the life of Shakespeare

  • can fit on a tiny piece of paper.

  • Fact 1.

  • He was christened in Stratford-upon-Avon

  • on April 26, 1564.

  • Actually we're not even sure of the day of his birth.

  • It's traditionally given as April 23rd,

  • but that may be because he died on that date.

  • Fact 2.

  • On November 27, 1582, when he was 18,

  • a license was issued for his marriage to Ann Hathaway.

  • Fact number 3.

  • May 26, 1583, their daughter Susanna was christened.

  • Two years later on February 2, 1585,

  • we have a record of the christening

  • of two more children, twins named Judith and Hamnet.

  • Fact number 4.

  • 1592, Shakespeare's name first appeared in print

  • in an attack by a fellow writer named Robert Greene,

  • who called Will an upstart crow

  • for presuming to write as well as a university educated man.

  • And fact number 5,

  • the final fact we know for sure

  • about the life of William Shakespeare

  • is that on April 23, 1616 he died in Stratford-upon-Avon,

  • and was buried in the same church where he was born.

  • That's it.

  • Isn't that incredible that so little is known

  • about the world's greatest playwright?

  • But, of course, we know much more about Shakespeare

  • than any biography could ever tell us

  • because we have the wonderful plays and poems he left us.

  • And through them we can enter his imagination.

  • And what an imagination it is.

  • "But soft, what light through yonder window breaks.

  • It is the east, and Juliet is the sun.

  • Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

  • who is already sick and pale with grief,

  • that thou, her maid, art far more fair than she."

  • Never has there been

  • an imagination so rich or so inclusive.

  • It's easy to forget that Shakespeare, in his time,

  • was a very popular playwright,

  • who wrote for and about people at all levels of society.

  • And in every period since then,

  • his universal understanding of the human condition

  • has made his work seem contemporary.

  • And why not?

  • When the subjects he wrote about

  • are the stuff of today's headlines--

  • power, war, violence, and passion.

  • In Hamlet you have the ultimate dysfunctional family.

  • In Macbeth you have the very extreme of political ambition.

  • And in Romeo and Juliet

  • you have the world's greatest story of young love.

  • That's why it's nothing short of a Shakespearian tragedy

  • that this great playwright is so often thought of as boring,

  • incomprehensible and inaccessible,

  • a dusty icon on a museum shelf.

  • In one sense, Shakespeare was just like the rest of us.

  • And there must have been a time in his youth

  • when nobody knew he was a genius.

  • That concept was the inspiration

  • for the film Shakespeare in Love.

  • We imagined Will as a struggling young actor,

  • and we tried to have some fun with what might have been

  • the sources of his inspiration.

  • Now it's comedy they want.

  • Will, comedy, like Romeo and Ethel.

  • Who wrote that?

  • Nobody. You were writing it for me.

  • I gave you £3 a month since.

  • Half of what you owe me.

  • I'm still due for One Gentlemen of Verona.

  • Will, what is money to you and me?

  • I, your patron, you, my wordwright.

  • When the plague lifts, Burbage will have a new play

  • by Christopher Marlowe for the Curtain.

  • I will have nothing for the Rose.

  • Mr. Henslowe, will you lend me £50?

  • Fifty pounds? What for?

  • Burbage offers me a partnership

  • in the Chamberlain's Men for £50.

  • My days as a hired player are over.

  • Oh, cut out my heart.

  • Throw my liver to the dogs.

  • No then?

  • ( indistinct shouting )

  • The London of 1593 was a world of dramatic contrasts,

  • a town of great palaces and dark hidden alleyways,

  • of stately manor houses and raucous taverns.

  • It was a world where violence could flare

  • at the slightest provocation,

  • and where the Black Death could strike down anyone,

  • rich or poor, at any moment.

  • What have I done, Mr. Fennyman?

  • The theaters have all been closed down by the plague.

  • Oh, that.

  • By order of the Master of the Revels.

  • Mr. Fennyman,

  • allow me to explain about the theater business.

  • The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles

  • on the road to imminent disaster.

  • Nothing.

  • Strangely enough, it all turns out well.

  • How?

  • I don't know. It's a mystery.

  • It was also a romantic world of poetry,

  • passion and the theater.

  • Playgoing was the great common denominator

  • in this unruly society,

  • a place where all were welcome

  • and everyone became equal for a few hours.

  • Well, not quite equal.

  • The groundlings paid a penny

  • to stand in the open air in front of the stage

  • and the rest of the audience paid tuppence

  • for a seat under the roof.

  • And for another penny they could rent a cushion.

  • When I began to research Elizabethan England,

  • I saw that all the theaters of the time

  • were all more or less circular amphitheaters with many sides.

  • They were constructed mainly of wood

  • and generally had a large open area,

  • either paved or just bare earth in front of the stage,

  • which usually projected out in the audience area.

  • JOSEPH: Performances were held in the afternoon

  • for the simple reason that most of the lighting

  • had to be supplied by the sun.

  • Now you may be asking yourselves,

  • what happened to the groundlings

  • when it rained?

  • Well, they go wet, of course.

  • You get what you pay for, I suppose.

  • Plays generally lasted several hours,

  • and there were no restrooms and no intermissions.

  • I'll let you draw your own conclusions

  • as to how this affected the general atmosphere.

  • MARTIN: In 1593, two of the major theaters

  • were the Rose and the Curtain.

  • Most likely they were not very clean and neat.

  • So we decided to make the Rose

  • look properly rickety, grubby, smelly, and rain drenched,

  • as if it were just getting by on a wing

  • and a prayer financially,

  • which it probably was much of the time.

  • In fact, saving money was the main reason

  • playhouses didn't use much in the way of sets.

  • Instead, they relied on a more cheap

  • and cheerful resource to set the scene, playwrights.

  • Writers often found it necessary

  • to paint pictures with words at the top of scenes

  • just to keep the audience informed as to where they were.

  • Costumes, on the other hand, were often quite elegant

  • and flamboyant and provided the color

  • and flash that was lacking in the minimal scenery.

  • In Shakespeare's time, theaters didn't have

  • the technical capabilities we have today,

  • like lighting and sound effects.

  • They only had actors and costumes

  • performing in broad daylight.

  • And since clothing in those days

  • invariably reflected social status,

  • there was a striking contrast

  • between the appearance of the actors and the groundlings.

  • The common folk generally dressed

  • in plain earth-colored outfits of homespun wool or linen,

  • whereas the upper-classes

  • tended to wear richly colored outfits

  • in exotic fabric such as silk, satin and velvet.

  • Even the amount of clothing one wore indicated prosperity.

  • So people would wear several layers of it

  • to showcase their affluence.

  • Men would actually pad their tummies

  • to create an added illusion of wealth

  • showing they could afford to eat well.

  • This was called a peascod belly.

  • The costumes used by Elizabethan theaters

  • were generally gifts of wealthy benefactors.

  • They would have been items of their own clothing

  • that they have grown tired off.

  • They were considered the greatest asset

  • a theater company had

  • because they provided a dazzling equivalent

  • of today's special effects.

  • Here were all these groundlings

  • in their grubby, drab working clothes,

  • and suddenly all these extraordinary

  • colorful apparitions would appear on stage

  • in front of them and lift them out of their everyday world

  • into some magical dimension.

  • In Shakespeare in Love,

  • you can get a sense of the effect

  • this must have had

  • when you see the shimmering vision of Gwyneth Paltrow

  • making her astonishing entrance as Juliet.

  • Juliet!

  • How now, who calls?

  • Your mother.

  • Your mother.

  • JULIET: Madam, I am here.

  • What is your will?

  • This is the matter.

  • Nurse, give leave awhile. We must talk in secret.

  • Nurse, come back again.

  • I have remembered me. Thou's hear our counsel.

  • Although in real life in the Elizabethan times

  • Gwyneth's stage costume as Juliet

  • would have been contemporary,

  • I decided to take artistic license

  • and to make the costumes

  • for our film's version of Romeo and Juliet