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A painting of the Globe.

The REAL Players

Richard Burbage
b. c.1567; d. 1619. An English actor, son of James Burbage. With his brother Cuthbert, he was proprietor of The Theatre and later of the Globe, as well as of the Blackfriars Theatre. He already had some acting experience when he joined with Shakespeare and others in forming the Lord Chamberlain's Men in 1594, but he went on to make his fame as an actor with this company (which became the King's Men in 1603). He apparently played the leading parts in most of the plays produced by this company, and seems to have been the original Hamlet, Lear, and Othello, as well as playing the hero in many other of Shakespeare's Plays. It is thought that his ability and style of acting had some influence on the kinds of heroes Shakespeare created for his plays. Burbage excelled in tragedy and was held in high esteem by the authors as well as the public; he was sometimes even introduced into plays in his own proper person. Beside his fame as an actor, he was known as a painter (see self portrait) and is traditionally held to be the painter of one of the extant Shakespeare portraits. At his death, many poems and tributes were written in his memory.

From "A Dictionery of Who, What, and Where in Shakespeare"

Edward Alleyn (called Ned Allen)

Edward Alleynb. at London, Sept. 1, 1566; d. November 25 1626. An English actor; son-in-law of Philip Henslowe and later, by a second marriage, of John Donne. He was the founder (1613) and director (1619-26) of Dulwich College (The College of God's Gift), at London. Rated by Jonson, Nash, and others as the foremost actor, especially of tragedy, of his time, he was a member of the Earl of Worchester's Men (1586 et seq), head of the Lord Admiral's (Earl of Nottingham's) Men (c1592), and owner-manager, with Henslowe, of various London theatres, including the Rose and the Fortune (built in 1600), and of a bear-baiting house at Paris Garden (1594-1626). He played leads in Marlowe's Jew of Malta, Tamburlaine, and Doctor Faustus, and it is thought that his acting mannerisms are parodied by Shakespeare in the charactor of Pistol in 2 Henry IV. His last known apperance was at a reception address to James I (c1604).

Henslowe, Philip.
d. 1616. An English theatre manager. He was a servant of the bailiff of Viscount Montague, whose town house was in Southwark (now part of London). Henslowe took care of the property there, and gradually made money and bought property. He owned the Boar's Head and other inns. In 1585 he bought land on the Bankside, and in 1591 built the Rose theatre there. In 1592 he began to keep the accounts of his theatrical ventures in his Diary. In it he gives the dates of new plays, the amounts he paid for them or advanced to the usually impecunious playwrights, and similar material of great value to students of the drama. In 1600 he built, with Edward Alleyn, his son-in-law, the Fortune theatre. The Diary and other papers were lost in a mass of printed material at Dulwich College until 1790, when Edmund Malone recovered them for his variorum edition of Shakespeare. The Diary, as edited by W.W. Greg, is a record of the years 1592-1603, in two sections: one, companies performing at the Rose, names of plays, and Henslowe's receipts as theatre owner for performances; and two, after 1597, a listing of his advances to the Lord Admiral's Men for plays, costumes, properties, and licensing fees, and to the actors themselves.

ibid - See reference above.

William Kempe
[Also, Kemp.] fl. 1585-1603. A comic actor and dancer, he was one of the original shareholders in the Lord Chamberlain's Men and in the Globe theatre, and was one of the principal actors listed in the First Folio (1623) of Shakespeare's plays. He was known as a comic actor before joining the Chamberlain's company, where he played mostly fools and clowns. He seems to have favored a slapstick style of clowning, much like that of Tarlton, and Shakespeare is thought to have written the parts of Peter in Romeo and Juliet and Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing for him. He probably left the company in 1599, and the following year danced a marathon morris-dance (see old engraving) from London to Norwich, reported in his Kemps Nine Dayes Wonder (1600). He may have returned to the Chamberlain's for a time in 1601, but left to act with other companies.
ibid, see above

Christopher Marlowe

b. at Canterbury, England, Feb. 6, 1564; d. at Deptford, England, May 30, 1593. An English poet and dramatist, son of a shoemaker, he secured a good education at Cambridge University, taking his B.A. in 1584 and M.A. in 1587. He was forced to appear at the Middlesex Sessions in London in 1588, but the charge is unknown. It appears that by 1587 he was attached to the Lord Admiral's Men as a playwright, enjoying the familiar acquaintance of Sir Walter Raleigh and other writers, adventurers, and men about town, and probably living a gay and roistering life. He was the "gracer of tragedians" reproved for atheism by Greene in his Goatsmouth of Wit (1592). Chettle is probably referring to him when he speaks of "one he cares not to be acquainted with." Marlowe freely avowed the heretical and even atheistic views for which eventually, in 1593, he was called to account. An information against him was lodged with the authorities, but before he could be brought to trial, he was slain by an Ingram Frisar in a tavern brawl at Deptford. This is the generally accepted circumstance of his death, although many other accounts have been circulated. Some have advanced the theory that Marlowe, secretly involved in politics (perhaps as a French agent), was the victim of a conspiracy. It has been said that if Shakespeare, born in the same year with Marlowe, had like the latter died at the age of twenty-nine, Marlowe's name would have come down in literary history as the greatest of the Elizabethan dramatic poets. Tamburlaine, in two parts, probably first acted about 1587 and licensed for printing in 1590, is universally ascribed to him on internal evidence alone. Doctor Faustus appears to have been Erst acted in 1588, but it was not entered on the Stationers' Register for publication until 1601. It is known to have been produced by Henslowe twenty-four times between 1594 and 1597, and subsequently it was performed frequently by English companies in several of the chief German cities. The Jew of Malta, another tragedy, was written and first produced probably in 1589, was frequently acted in England between 1591 and 1596, and was also given by English companies on the Continent. In 1818 Edmund Kean revived it at the Drury Lane Theatre in a modernized version. Marlowe's historical play EAward II was entered on the Stationers' Register in 1593. About the same time, he collaborated with Thomas Nash in writing The Tragedy of Dido, Queen of Carthage, and wrote The Massacre at Paris alone. Lust's Dominion, or the Lascivious Queen, published in 1657, has been attributed to him, but without much substantiation. It is generally thought that he had a hand in fashioning some of the earlier plays of the Shakespeare canon. The greatest of his nondramatic works was an unfinished paraphrase of the Hero and Leander of Musaeus, which was completed by George Chapman; but he is now most often remembered for one of the most famous of English lyrics, The Passionate Shepard to His Love," which begins with the oft-quoted lines, "Come live with me and be my love." His advent in the London theatre marked the beginning of great drama in England, and there are few who would deny that he was surely a dramatist of authentic genius.

ibid, see above

Some Pictures scanned from The Age of Shakespeare, an Abrams Discovery Book

Other actors of the time.
Left to right: John Lowin, William Sly, and Nathan Field


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