Last week I raised the question of what makes creative work endure because I was thinking about Shakespeare. But did Shakespeare set out to write “classic” plays?
In his professional life he was an ever-hustling playwright-slash-entrepreneur, his time stretched (thinly, we can only imagine) between churning out the plays that kept his company afloat and the ceaseless daily business of running a theatre.
Talk about slings and arrows! Shakespeare dealt with snide critics, box office receipts, actors who went off-script, not to mention the recurrent bouts of plague that closed London’s theaters for months at a time.
Creatively, he walked the fine line between writing from the heart while finessing the sensitivities of his royal patrons. His work had to engage the nobility at court and the commoners, too, including the “groundlings” who paid a mere penny to stand there,...