4 A new life in London

4 A new life in London
: :

4A new life in London
It's two days journey to London by horse,and Will talked all the way.His eyes were bright and excited.He was full of plans,and poems,and a love of life.
‘I talked to one of the Queen's Men,’he told me.‘He said that he could find me work in the theatre.Acting,perhaps.Or helping to write some plays.I showed him some of my writing,and he was very interested.
When we rode into London,I began to feel afraid.This was a big,big city,and we were just two unimportant young men from a small town.I'll never forget the noise,and the smells,and the crowds.There were 200,000 people living in the City of London—I never saw so many people before in my life.
We went down to the river Thames and saw the famous London Bridge,with all its shops and houses.Down the river was the Tower of London.Enemies of the Queen went into the Tower through the river gate,and mostly came out without their heads.
We found a small inn in Eastcheap,not too expensive,and had some bread,meat,and beer for our supper.
‘Well,we're here!’Will said.‘At last!’ ‘Mmm,’I said.‘What do we do next?’ He laughed.‘Everything!’
The next day we began to look for work.
Those early years were wonderful.We didn't have much money,of course,and we had to work very hard.A new actor only got six shillings a week,and there wasn't work every week.I decided not to be an actor.
‘Why not?’said will.‘It's a great life.’
We were working that month for the Queen's Men at the theatre called The Curtain up in Shoreditch.Will was acting four small parts in two different plays.He played a soldier and a murderer in one play,and in the other play he was a thief,and also an Italian lord in love with the Queen of the Night.And he loved it.
‘I'm not clever like you,I said.‘I can't remember all those words.I forget who
I am!I say the soldier's words,when I'm an Italian lord.I come on stage too late, or too soon.I stand in all the wrong places…’
Will laughed.‘What are you going to do,then?’
‘Costumes,’I said.‘And properties.I had a talk with John Heminges,and he said they need a new man to help with all the clothes and the other things.’
‘Yes,’Will said slowly.‘You'll be good at that.Now,I've got a fight on stage tomorrow,and I have to die with lots of blood.How are you going to get me some blood?’
‘I've already got it!I smiled kindly at him.‘Sheep's blood I got it down at Smithfield market this morning.You can have as much blood as you want.I'm keeping it warm for you!’
Will was good at acting.Not the best,but good.An actor had to do everything.He had to learn his words,of course—perhaps for six different plays at the same time. No theatre put on the same play every day.He had to dance,and sing,and play music.He had to jump,and fall,and fight.And the fights had to look real.The playgoers of London knew a real fight when they saw one.
John Heminges of the Queen's Men taught us both a lot.He was a good friend,then and for many years.
I had a lot to learn,too.I learnt how to make shoes out of brown paper.How to clean the actors hats with a bit of bread.Then they looked like new again.I ran all over London to buy the best hair for the wigs.I learnt how to make fish,and fruit,and a piece of meat out of wood and coloured paper.
Will was busy day and night.I don't know when he slept.He was acting in plays,he was writing his own plays,he was reading books,he was meeting other writers,making friends…He was learning,learning,learning.
One day we were having a glass of beer with Richard Burbage at the Boar's Head in Eastcheap.Burbage was an actor with Lord Strange's Men.He was very friendly with Will.
‘You've written four plays now,Will,’he said.‘They're good,and you're getting better all the time.And I'm getting better as an actor all the time.Come and work with Lord Strange's Men at the Rose theatre on Bankside.You can write for us.’
So we both went to the Rose.John Heminges came with us,and Augustine Phillips
—he was a good actor,too.
We worked harder than ever at the Rose.Plays were always in the afternoon,because of the daylight.We had rehearsals in the morning,and by lunch-
time people were already coming across the river to get their places for the play.And more and more people came.By 1592 London was hearing the name William Shakespeare again and again.