Burbage and Shakespeare
[ Issue 19 ]

Burbage and Shakespeare intrigue Emily Bronto

Bikwil will always sing the praises of Burbage and Shakespeare

Burbage and Shakespeare

Here's a bit of gossip from Fizzgig about Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare.

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From the Back Verandah ó Fizzgig


What I relished in the movie Shakespeare in Love were the in-jokes and literary allusions. Like the boy with the rats who complains to Will Shakespeare about the shortage of gore and death in his plays. That boy, John Webster (1580?-1625?), grew up to write his own bloodthirsty play, The Duchess of Malfi, a tragedy of revenge that ends in virtually universal carnage.

The movie touches on Willís rivalry with fellow playwright Christopher Marlowe too, and the self-importance of actor Ned Alleyn. Likewise the dual careers of actor/theatre owner Richard Burbage.

Although short and heavily built, on stage Burbage (1567?-1619) cut an impressive figure and was highly regarded as tragedian. He was the first actor to play characters such as Hamlet, Henry V, Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Richard III and Romeo.

Theatrical rivalry? What about a notorious anecdote about Burbage and Shakespeare as sexual competitors? (It began in 1602 as a diary entry by lawyer John Manningham.)

During a performance of Richard III, Burbage is informed that a lady in the audience wants him to visit her at home that night. He is to announce himself as Richard III. Shakespeare overhears the message and makes sure he gets there first. While she is entertaining Shakespeare, Burbage arrives, introducing himself in the agreed manner. When the maid relays the news to her mistress, Shakespeare sends down word to him that "William the Conqueror was before Richard III."

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