Shakespeare at Plimoth Plantation!
As part of the Museum's commitment to 17th-century storytelling, the Plimoth Players explore the world the Plymouth colonists left behind in England. William Shakespeare's name and work would not have been unfamiliar to some of those who settled in New England. Theater was a popular pastime in the 1600s. At a time when London's population was only about 200,000, historians estimate that its playhouses generated half a million visits per year.
Even those living outside of London may have experienced Shakespeare’s work. It was common for London playing companies to tour the provinces. Many devoted part of each year to touring, and when plague periodically closed the London theaters, they were forced to seek venues outside the city. It is likely that the companies toured with reduced casts of actors playing multiple roles. From the 1580s to the closure of the theaters in 1642, the practice of role doubling and tripling dictated the structure of many plays.
The Plimoth Players will bring the exciting tradition of the touring player to life this summer. Audience members are guests in the great hall of a 17th-century English manor house. Six actors will play all of the roles, both male and female.
Repertory performances will begin on Wednesday, August 7th with Much Ado About Nothing at 8:00 p.m. Thereafter Much Ado About Nothing will be performed on Wednesday and Friday nights. As You Like It will be performed on Thursday and Saturday nights. The two plays run through August with a final performance of As You Like It on August 31st at 8:00 p.m.
Keep up with the actors on the Plimoth Players Blog!
What can Shakespeare teach us about the world of the Pilgrims?
In eulogizing William Shakespeare, rival playwright Ben Jonson said: “He was not of an age, but for all time!” In stressing the eternal value of Shakespeare’s work, Jonson seemingly had forgotten that his fellow dramatist once said that the purpose of theater was to show, “the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.”
Born during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, Shakespeare grew up amid the religious and political upheavals of the English reformation – the same upheavals that produced the Pilgrims’ Separatist movement. As a writer, he observed his society and used the stage to hold “a mirror up to nature.”
Shakespeare is also a valuable source of information on his contemporaries. His references to plants and animals, current fashions and myriad topics help us understand what English people of the Pilgrims’ time believed about their material and spiritual worlds.
At Plimoth Plantation
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