I saw a discussion the other day where somebody argued that Shakespeare was these three things – actor, poet, playwright – specifically in that order. In other words he was an actor first, a poet second, a playwright last. I don’t think he meant chronologically, either.
I disagree. I think that while he may have gotten involved in the theatre as an actor, he certainly found himself as a poet shortly after and then spent the rest of his career putting poetry on the stage. Nobody ever speaks of Shakespeare’s name among the great actors of his generation. He was no Burbage or Kempe. He acted, sure, and he started out as an actor. But I don’t think it’s accurate to say that he was primarily an actor.
Thoughts? This is another spin on the old, “Did Shakespeare really know he was that good, or was he just doing whatever it took to pay the bills?” argument. Discuss.