Shakespeare Solved: Shakespeare and Richard Burbage
Andrew Dickson sets out to rescue a great Shakespearean actor who All the caption says is that the man depicted is Richard Burbage, and that he who between them have acted nearly every Burbage role in the book. Richard Burbage (6 January – 12 March ) was an English stage actor, widely Burbage was a business associate and friend to William Shakespeare. The brothers maintained a close working and personal relationship throughout . Shakespearean Mythbusting III: Richard Burbage before around /98 (the first connection between his name and a significant role occurs.
During the winter months, when the open-air Globe theatre was not practical to use, the Blackfriars was used. It was much smaller and seated about people. The brothers maintained a close working and personal relationship throughout their lives; they were neighbours on Halliwell Street in Shoreditchnear the Theatre. Burbage fathered at least eight children;  after his death his widow Winifred married another of the King's Men, Richard Robinson.
His skills were in demand. Some believe that the anonymous oil painting used so often nowadays to show what Burbage looked like was a self-portrait. The "Felton" portrait of Shakespeare is also attributed to Burbage,  and also a portrait of a woman which is currently preserved at Dulwich College, in Southeast London. The Burbages must have had the most discriminating taste when it came to actors and playwrights, and they would not work with just anyone.
In this regard, Shakespeare's first major accomplishment in London was winning over the Burbage family. The position the Burbages had, in owning and operating The Theatreand their close relationship with Leicester and the Lord Chamberlain gave Shakespeare the licence to write almost whatever he wanted.
Yes there was a Master of the Revels who could censor plays, and close them down at his whim, but if Shakespeare wrote something that the Burbages wanted to perform, I think they could almost get away with anything.
I was not surprised since the plays were written during a very tumultuous period in England's history. Shakespeare didn't write his plays in a vacuum, removed from history.
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So it shouldn't come as a surprise that he was commenting on the history around him. The plays he was writing were charged with the politics of the time, and the roles he was writing were challenging and risky roles.
When he played Shylock, it was a risk. When he played Hamlet, it was tremendous risk! He was putting his life in Shakespeare's hands, and vice versa. If Shakespeare and Burbage crossed the line, if they made use of the stage for political purposes then they could find themselves in jail like Ben Jonson, tortured like Thomas Kyd, or even dead like Christopher Marlowe.
I think Burbage had to make sure the plays worked as plays, that he acted as well as he could first and foremost. Burbage's performance as King Lear would have shocked and upset audiences Could Shakespeare have written Hamlet for himself to perform?
I don't think so. He needed an actor to perform it for him. Heart-broke Philaster, and Amintas too, Are lost for ever; with the red-hair' d Jew, Which sought the bankrupt merchant's pound of flesh, By woman-lawyer caught in his own mesh. What a wide world was in that little space, Thyself a world the Globe thy fittest place!
Thy stature small, but every thought and mood Might throughly from thy face be understood; And his whole action he could change with ease From ancient Lear to youthful Pericles. But let me not forget one chiefest part, Wherein, beyond the rest, he mov'd the heart; The grieved Moor, made jealous by a slave, Who sent his wife to fill a timeless grave, Then slew himself upon the bloody bed.
All these and many more are with him dead. Hereafter must our Poets cease to write. Since thou art gone, dear Dick, a tragic night Will wrap our black-hung stage: Oft have I seen him leap into the grave, Suiting the person, which he seem'd to have, Of a mad lover, with so true an eye, That there I would have sworn he meant to die.
And now, dear Earth, that must enshrine that dust, By heaven now committed to thy trust, Keep it as precious as the richest mine That lies entomb'd in that rich womb of thine, That after times may know that much lov'd mould From other dust, and cherish it as gold: On it be laid some soft but lasting stone, With this short epitaph endors'd thereon, That every eye may read, and reading, weep 'Tis England's Roscius, Burbage, that I Keep.
London's grief over Richard Burbage's death was so profound that another unnamed author wrote a few lines mocking the excess, using Shakespeare's own opening lines from Henry VI: Hung be the heavens with black, yield day to night!
Comets importing change shoot through the sky: Scourge the foul fates that thus afflict our sight! Burbage, the player, has vouchsafed to die! Therefore, in London is not one eye dry: The deaths of men who act our Queens and Kings, Are now more mourn'd than are the real things.
The Queen is dead! Queens of the theatre are much more worth, Drawn to the playhouse by the bawdy scenes, To revel in the foulness they call mirth.
Shakespeare's Friend Richard Burbage
Dick Burbage was their mortal god on earth: When he expires, lo! The shock and sadness over Burbage's passing may be the key to our understanding of why so little was written on Shakespeare's death just three years earlier - a theory put so eloquently by C. Stopes in Burbage and Shakespeare's Stage: