Who performed the lead roles in Shakespeare’s plays?

            Like the superstars in movies today, there were heroes who had cut out larger than life images in Shakespeare’s time. Richard Burbage, an English stage performer, was the most famous actor during the late I 6th century. Burbage was not only an actor, but also a theatre owner, entrepreneur, and painter.

            By the age of twenty, Richard Burbage achieved success as a performer. He played the major Shakespearean characters, including Othello, Hamlet, Lear, and Richard Ill. Richard Ill was the most popular of his roles with the Elizabethan public. The performance of the character of Richard III gave Burbage a superstar image. He had also performed in the plays of leading playwrights of the time such as Ben Jonson, Thomas Kyd, Beaumont and Fletcher, and John Webster.

            The only image of Richard Burbage available to us today is often considered a self-portrait. He is also credited with painting a portrait of Shakespeare. When Burbage died, it was a huge event. People believed that Burbage was the true sound of Shakespeare’s lines. Writers of the Elizabethan period wrote eulogies about him. All of London fell into a great gloom at the great actor’s departure. There was so much grief that, it is said, the official mourning for Queen Anne was overshadowed by Burbage’s death.

Picture Credit : Google