SHAKESPEARE'S plays of the Globe years are the highest forms of drama to result from a century of evolution. The longfought battle between popular and private taste was to go on, finally to the defeat of popular taste in the rise of the private theaters. But in the ten years of the Globe, before the King's men saw their theatrical future in appealing to a Blackfriars trade, the artistic possibilities of the popular narrative drama were abundantly realized.
As the poet created the play, the actors rehearsed it -- or very shortly thereafter. At the Globe playhouse the intimacy between Shakespeare and his colleagues gave unparalleled opportunity for artistic collaboration. Through changes in status and physical surroundings, they maintained warm personal and professional relations. From a common creative act arose the plays that Shakespeare penned and the productions that his friends presented. The record of this partnership is contained in the extant scripts, not merely in stage directions or in dialogue, but in the very substance of the dramatist's craft, the structure of the incidents.
To know this structure of incidents is no simple matter. Little contemporary Elizabethan theory of the dramatist's craft exists.1 Of the few contemporary essays on poesy which treat the drama, Sidney The Defence of Poesie (c. 1583), is not only the best known but also the most thorough. In measuring pre Shakespearean drama by neoclassic standards, Sidney concludes that the early plays lack order. Yet the characteristic that Sidney so roundly condemned is the very one which, as we shall see,