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Spektrum Shake-speare

Schule und Unterricht 137 the theatre. That is why nearly all of the theatres were situated in so-called liberties, precincts over which the city of London had no jurisdiction. But this aversion was primarily directed at the theatre as a place where all sort of people congregated: whores and panders, thieves, and other lewd people; besides, it was also seen as a focus of epidemics, mainly the plague. Without doubt, something of this deprecatory view of the theatre did rub off on the players themselves. And Puritans were principled enemies of any form of theatre, which in 1642 led to the closing of all the theatres.Andrew Gurr calls it the «prime paradox» of the history of the theatre «that the survival and the growing prosperity of such companies, the King’s Men above all, was due almost entirely to the support and consistent protection given them by the highest authority in the land?. (Gurr, Andrew, The Shakespearian Playing Companies, Oxford, 1996, p. 9). Sonnet 111 only more or less remotely indicates that the poet had perfor- med on the public stage. However, from another source we can safely con- clude that he so did and that this was the cause of his disgrace. In a courtly society «disgrace» or «loss of favour» nearly always means «banishment from Court,» the centre of power. At some time before 1611 John Davies of Hereford, an epigrammatist and literary insider, wrote an epigram «To our English Terence, Mr. Will Shake-speare» (modernized spelling and punctuation): Some say, good Will, whom I in sport do sing, Had’st thou not played some kingly parts in sport, Thou hadst been a companion for a King; «A companion for a king» in an absolute monarchy was one regularly atten- ding the monarch, that is: a courtier. Shakespeare was banished from Court for having acted on the stage. Davies of Hereford indicates a reason, most likely THE reason why Shakespeare’s name received a brand. Finally, at the end of sonnet 110, lines 10 and 11, and, more overtly, in lines 9–12 of sonnet 111 the poet promises correction to the friend. Which implies that the young aristocrat, too, had uttered his disapproval of the poet’s «harmful deeds», while it is nearly impossible to imagine that a professional actor’s name would receive a «brand» from what is, in another sense, his very brand, namely his profession.