In July 1575, Queen Elizabeth I visited Kenilworth Castle in Warwickshire.
|A model of Kenilworth, as it would have appeared in 1575|
He spent a lot of money to woo her, and did everything he could to entertain her.
|Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester|
in his tilting armor, a drawing by Zuccaro 1575
At Kenilworth in 1575, he would have had many of these actors with him, including James Burbage. Burbage would build The Theatre, the very first permanent structure built as a theatre in England since the Roman times.
Kenilworth Castle is only 23 kilometers away from Stratford-upon-Avon.
But in 1575, he could have gotten a really good look at her. I wouldn’t be surprised if he went to Kenilworth every day to catch a glimpse of Elizabeth, and Leicester and all of the excitement they had brought to his relatively simple Midlands life.
|Queen Elizabeth dancing La Volta with Leicester|
|Arion on a dolphin's back|
When Shakespeare wrote Twelfth Night many years later, he referred back to “Arion on the dolphin’s back” and in A Midsummer Night’s Dream he referred to the fireworks and the “dolphin’s back” again.
I have this image in my mind of this young Warwickshire boy witnessing what sounds like the grandest entertainment of the 16th century, staring up at the sky as the fireworks explode -- and whatever dreams he had get even bigger with every explosion.
|Fireworks over Kenilworth Castle|
Somewhere inside him, he must have decided that when he grew up, he wanted to act in and write plays for the Queen.
But one of the most important moments in his life that led him to London was at Kenilworth in July 1575.
David B. Schajer
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