In 2016, cultural institutions around the world are celebrating William Shakespeare's legacy. April 23 marks 400 years since Shakespeare's death at age 55, by which point he had written 37 plays and 154 sonnets (that we know of). Shakespeare is the 2nd-most quoted writer in the English language and has had a profound influence on theater and literature. In this special edition of the Teacher Gazette, we look at one of Shakespeare's legacies: theater in the 18th century. Watch a video about 18th-century acting and read about theater in colonial Virginia.
In this lesson, students analyze an eighteenth-century playbill for a performance of The Beggar's Opera, and compare it with several modern theater advertisements. Then, after listening to several acts (written in student-friendly language) from William Shakespeare's The Tempest, students will design playbills for it. More
Playbills, such as the one above for The Beggar's Opera, were used to advertise upcoming public performances and to attract patrons to attend the theatre. Surviving Williamsburg playbills indicate that then, as now, the most popular and successful plays dealt with the universal themes of love, loss, double meanings, and the triumph of good over evil. More