January 18, 2016 by in Play Writing

I am intrigued about where playwrights obtain inspiration for topics and themes of their plays, hoping that I will know where to go when I sit down to write!  A playwright who has been popular during this lifetime would be a good source of information about inspiration.  Better yet a playwright who remains popular years after his death.  How about 400 years later?  How about Shakespeare?  Such information would also inform us on what topics make exciting and lasting theatre.  The 2015 book The Year Of Lear, Shakespeare in 1606 by James Shapiro offers great insights into how and where Shakespeare found inspiration.  Basically Shakespeare found inspiration in two ways.  Firstly Shakespeare READ voraciously.  Not only did Shakespeare read history such as Holinshed’s Chronicles, he read many books about topics and issues of his day.  Secondly Shakespeare LISTENED to what was going on, such as at the Royal Court as well as in the streets.  Without newspapers Shakespeare needed to be engaged in his community to know what people were thinking about.  Shakespeare used truth in his writing obtained through his READING and LISTENING. Shakespeare found and his audiences have found for 400 years that humans acting in real situations are more interesting (and dramatic) than in fantasy.


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