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Popularity led to an insatiable demand for plays: early in 1613 the King’s Men—as the Chamberlain’s Men were then known—could present “fourteen several plays.” The theatre soon became fashionable, too, and in 1608–09 the King’s Men started to perform on a regular basis at the Shakespeare’s first associations with the Chamberlain’s Men seem to have been as an actor.He is not known to have acted after 1603, and tradition gives him only secondary roles, such as the ghost in , but his continuous association must have given him direct working knowledge of all aspects of theatre.Most female parts were written for young male actors or boys, so Shakespeare did not often write big roles for them or keep them actively engaged onstage for lengthy periods.Writing for the clowns of the company—who were important popular attractions in any play—presented the problem of allowing them to use their comic personalities and tricks and yet have them serve the immediate interests of theme and action.Shakespeare’s two narrative poems, , can be dated with certainty to the years when the plague stopped dramatic performances in London, in 1592––94, respectively, just before their publication.But the sonnets offer many and various problems; they cannot have been written all at one time, and most scholars set them within the period 1593–1600.Prospero in Sidebar: Shakespeare on Theatre.) In Shakespeare’s day there was little time for group rehearsals, and actors were given the words of only their own parts.
Other plays in which the textual relationship of quarto to folio is highly problematic include .Chamberlain’s Men, a leading theatre company of which Shakespeare was a member.Almost all classes of citizens, excepting many Puritans and like-minded Reformers, came to them for afternoon entertainment.Certainly the situation varies from quarto to quarto, and unquestionably the unauthorized quartos are valuable to the understanding of stage history.Several years after Shakespeare died in 1616, colleagues of his in the King’s Men, John Heminge and Henry Condell, undertook the assembling of a collected edition. It did nonetheless include 36 plays, half of them appearing in print for the first time.