Who among the cast and crew of a play has the hardest job? Is it the writer, creating the plot and characters? The actors, who must bring flat text on a page to life? Or the director, who must wrangle everything into a coherent whole by the time the curtain rises?
There's a case to be made for every role, but in Shakespeare in Love, Will Shakespeare isn't just the fellow in the byline—he writes, he acts, and he gives direction. (No wonder he's so good at writing plays. He knows first-hand everything that goes into them.)
The film doesn't just show Shakespeare at his writing desk or in the bedroom, it shows him on the stage, backstage, under the stage, (and making out with Viola on stage, backstage, under the stage, etc.) Will is engaged in every part of the creative process necessary to build a play.
Questions About Art and Culture
- How would you describe Will's writing process?
- Why is poetry so important to Viola? How does she show her appreciation for the art of poetry?
- Can a play show true love? Which plays come closest? Does Romeo and Juliet convey true love? What is the heck is "true love," anyway?
- How is the production of a play in the 1500's different from the production of a play in the 2000's? How is it similar?
Chew on This
Romeo and Juliet is successful as a play for many reasons, but mainly because it taps into authentic emotions, which impresses both the public and the Queen.
At this time, theatre is a business first, and an expression of art second. Shakespeare must deal with demands from the playhouse owner, the financier, and others in order to get butts in seats and make money.