Children’s Acting Companies
Hamlet speaks about children’s acting companies with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in act 2, scene 2, when they explain to him that the players who are visiting Elsinore have been forced to travel because of the popularity of the newly emerging children’s acting companies. In fact, beginning in 1598, after a decade of inactivity, children’s acting companies, especially the Children of the Chapel Royal, became so popular on London stages that some established adult companies were forced, from 1599 to 1601, to go on the road in search of audiences. This conflict between boy’s and men’s acting companies was dubbed the ‘‘War of the Theaters.’’
The Trojan War
One of the players recites for Hamlet the story of the fall of Troy and the grief of Queen Hecuba. The Trojan War was fought between Greece and Troy, ostensibly over the wife of the Greek king Menelaus, Helen, who was seduced and kidnapped by Paris, a Trojan prince. That war was known to Elizabethans through a translation of The Aeneid (c. 29–19 B.C.E.), originally written by Virgil, made by the Scotsman Gavin Douglas. That translation appeared in London for the first time in 1553.
Shakespeare for Students:Critical Interpretations of Shakespeare’s Plays & Poetry, Second Edition, Volume 1, authored by Anne Marie Hacht & Cynthia Burnstein, published by Thomson-Gale, 2007