Elizabethan Street Fighting

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Shakespeare Unlimited: Episode 24

"Blood hath been shed ere now, i' th' olden time,
Ere humane statute purged the gentle weal;
Ay, and since too, murders have been performed
Too terrible for the ear."
Macbeth (3.4.91–94)
 
From the duels in Romeo and Juliet to a brutal mob in Julius Caesar, street fighting transforms several of Shakespeare's plays. How much, though, does it reflect (or differ from) the mean streets of his day?
 
Rebecca Sheir talks violence in Elizabethan times with Vanessa McMahon, author of Murder in Shakespeare's England (2004), and Casey Kaleba, an expert in Elizabethan street crime and one of the Washington, DC, area's most sought-after fight coaches for stage plays.
 

From the Shakespeare Unlimited podcast series. Published May 6, 2015. © Folger Shakespeare Library. All rights reserved.
 
Produced for the Folger Shakespeare Library by Richard Paul. Garland Scott is the associate producer. Edited by Gail Kern Paster and Esther Ferington.
 
With help from Folger Magazine editor Karen Lyon, Juliet Bury at Richmond, the American International University in London, Laura Green at The Sound Company, and Jonathan Charry at public radio station WAMU.
 
 

Want more? Browse our full list of Shakespeare Unlimited episodes. Listen on SoundCloud, iTunes, Google Play, and NPR One.