enpaku 早稲田大学演劇博物館


William Shakespeare

Having defeated the supposedly invincible Spanish Armada in 1588, England entered a golden age, and its arts flourished under the patronage of Elizabeth I.

William Shakespeare was born in Stratford-upon-Avon on 23 April 1564. In the mid-1580s, he began a career as an actor in London, while gradually getting into the writing side of theatre. In 1594, he started working as an actor and writer for a ‘playing company’ called the Lord Chamberlain’s Men. In 1599, the Lord Chamberlain’s Men built the Globe Theatre on the banks of the Thames. In the years that followed, Shakespeare devoted himself to writing plays, producing two new plays a year for it.

Shakespeare wrote around 40 plays in total. His early works included history plays such as “Henry VI”, which dealt with the Wars of the Roses. They also included comedies like “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, a tale of love and fantasy among fairies and mortals. Shakespeare’s heyday was the period from 1600 to 1605. During these years, he produced the four great tragedies – “Hamlet”, “Othello”, “King Lear”, and “Macbeth” – all of which deal with themes of life and death, good and evil, and fame and infamy. During his final years (1609–1611), Shakespeare produced a number of romances, the last of which was “The Tempest”.

Many of Shakespeare’s works borrowed from legends and chronicles, but it is their sublime visionary quality that makes them cherished the world over. The Tsubouchi Memorial Theatre Museum holds many valuable Shakespeare-related materials, including Tsubouchi Shoyo’s collection.