Did Shakespeare Act or Produce?

One sometimes hears of an actor trying his hand as a director, or a writer moving to acting. What about the Bard? Did he ever act in or help finance any of his plays?

Well firstly there is a lot of argument about nearly everything in Shakespeare’s life. For whatever reason one of our most famous playwrights and literary figures has a life shrouded in many layers of mystery.

But I’ve always heard that he would commonly play minor roles in his plays and prior and I believe he got his foot into the business via acting.

As far as producing I’d say old Will pretty much was a producer/playwright primarily throughout his life. He owned his own acting company and owned a stake in the Globe theatre IIRC so I’m sure some of his own money went into the production of the plays.

I thought that Shakespeare was bankrolled by wealthy nobles. Would they not be considered the producers?

Not trying to hijack this thread, but don’t some scholars even doubt that he existed?

There is little doubt he would have acted and being a worked for other people’s productions during the ‘lost years’ between when he left Stratford and emerged as a playwright and poet. These are the years he learnt his trade.

There is however no doubt he was involved in the finance of his own plays. He was a member of a players’ company and shared the risks and the capital with the returns.

At least one of his roles is likely to have been written with him in mind. Many of the parts were tailored to particular actors, Falstaff, Cassius, Toby Belch, Andrew Aguecheek and there are more. William in As You Like It was tailored for the other William, a nondescript walk on part.

Producers never actually spend any of their own money on their productions.

No serious scholar doubts he existed. No doubt there, plenty of hard evidence.

There is in fact negligible doubt he was the main or sole author of the plays either.

There were seasons when the theatres were closed due to disease or edict. See Shakespeare in Love for the curious religious shenanigans going on.

During those times the players would rely on their patron and connections in court for patronage, a stage and survival.

Twelfth Night, to take the above example, was written to commission for a special occasion and not initially performed in the theatre proper but at a private stage.

This is all from memory, so the detail may be blurry but the gist is correct.

Did Shakespeare perform in any of his own plays?

Almost certainly

What he really wanted to do was direct.

Prospero, the Magician/Duke of The Tempest is surely Shakespeare.