“Shakespeare and Others: . .” What Can We Learn from the Shakespeare Apocrypha?

Orthodox scholars do talk about the authorship question, but there are rules.  First and foremost: NEVER question the orthodoxy. That is, inquire as much as you like, but do not question the belief that “The Canon” was by and large written by the Shakspere from Stratford. Due in part to the growing pressure from outside the academy, things have opened up a little and lately it’s been allowed for scholars to talk  about “collaboration”, as long as the genius emanates solely from the orthodox .

Shake&OthersThat’s sort of what’s happening with “William Shakespeare & Others, Collaborative Plays” edited by Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen. It is a handsome work published by MacMillan in coordination with the Royal Shakespeare Company. Called a supplement to the complete works the two edited a few years ago, it claims to be “ . . . the first edition in over 100 years of the fascinatingly varied body of plays that has become known as ‘The Shakespeare Apocrypha’.” It includes modernized texts of 10 plays that have been associated with Shakespeare, but are not a part of what we know as “The Canon.” Each play is accompanied by introductions, commentaries and an appendix of fascinating interviews with actors and directors.

The Apocrypha is a group of a dozen or so (depending whose counting) generally inferior plays (and some poems) that were either published under the name or initials of William Shakespeare, or for one reason or another, attributed in part to his hand. None of the Apocrypha appear in the 1623 First Folio.

The third folio of Shakespeare's plays listed several additional works attributed to the author

The third folio of Shakespeare’s plays listed several additional works attributed to the author

“The book does popularize one of the most interesting developments in the past 30 years of Shakespeare scholarship,” says Shakespeare scholar Gary Taylor in a review he wrote in the Washington Post (see link below). “We have always known that, like television and film today, the early modern entertainment industry often worked from co-written scripts. The explosive growth of computer databases, combined with new forensic technologies, has revolutionized our ability to identify empirically, with high levels of probability, who wrote what. Digital humanist Hugh Craig, in his essay on “Authorship” in the 2011 “Oxford Handbook of Shakespeare,” summarizes the emergent consensus that Shakespeare was part-author of as many as 15 plays, including 10 already printed in the RSC’s “Complete Works” and many other modern editions.” Indeed, it now seems that instead of the solitary genius of earlier generations, today we have Shakespeare, the great TV writer.

To emphasize the blurred lines that define rather vaguely what is to be included in the “Apocrypha,” Taylor goes on to say, “ . . . this volume mixes the five genuine additional plays with obviously spurious ones. In an excellent survey of “Authorship and Attribution, ” contributing editor Will Sharpe admits that four plays in this volume don’t belong here: It is ‘highly unlikely to almost impossible’ that Shakespeare wrote anything in ‘A Yorkshire Tragedy,’ ‘The London Prodigal,’ ‘Locrine’ or ‘Thomas Lord Cromwell’”

Taylor does a good job in his review of “unpacking” some of the ideas that Bate and Rasmussen attempt to demonstrate in their book. It is interesting to note that he admires the comments by actors and directors more than those made by scholars. It is very much worth reading.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/william-shakespeare-and-others-edited-by-jonathan-bate-and-eric-rasmussen/2013/12/30/4a1e86ce-6cd7-11e3-b405-7e360f7e9fd2_story.html

It seems odd, but since no one really knows much about William Shakespeare (no manuscripts survive, no letters, no first-hand evidence that he was even a writer), license has been given for a rather abundant speculation on the life and letters.  As longtime Roundtable member and authorship scholar Sabrina Feldman has pointed out, there is not another prominent figure in the annals of English literature who has been credited in his lifetime and for decades after with writing two distinctly different sets of literary works, the first being works of peerless genius which are called The Canon, and the second more or less inferior works which have come to be known as Apocryphal.

The reason Taylor and others, including T.S. Eliot, felt that it was impossible to imagine William Shakespeare writing any part of the inferior works associated with his name is precisely because they are SO BAD. Here’s an example from “Locrine”, as Humber wanders about starving in the wilderness:

My very entrails burn for want of drink.

My bowels cry, Humber give us some meat.

But wretched Humber can give you no meat;

These foul accursed groves afford no mat,

This fruitless soil, this ground, brings forth no meat.

The gods, hard hearted gods, yield me no meat.

 One can see why no serious-minded reader is willing to associate the revered William Shakespeare with lines such as these. But wait.

 What if . . .

ApocryphaBookWhich brings me once again to Dr. Sabrina Feldman. In addition to being a longtime member of the Roundtable and a genuine rocket scientist at Cal Tech, Sabrina is also one of the most original thinkers and researchers on the authorship question, especially authorship and The Apocrypha. Last year she published her remarkable book, “The Apocryphal William Shakespeare, Book One of A ‘Third Way’ Shakespeare Authorship Scenario”. In her book Sabrina turns on its head the idea that Shakespeare could not have written the inferior works contained in the Apocrypha. On the contrary, she suggests that those shoddy works (though often quite risqué and amusing) may be the ONLY things written by William Shakespeare of Stratford. Her point is this: Since we have no direct evidence (nothing in his own hand) of William Shakespeare ever having written anything except a very awkward last will and testament, and since the biographical evidence suggests that William Shakespeare was more a semi-literate business man than the greatest poet who has ever lived, perhaps it was the theater owner/land speculator that wrote the clumsy work and the genius of the Canon was created by . . . well, you have to read her book.

OR come to our next meeting on February 8th. With her meticulous evidence and scientific thinking Sabrina will give us a preview of “Book Two”; her theory about who the most likely candidate might be, and it isn’t Marlowe, Oxford or even Mary Sidney.

The huge surge in interest over the last decade in the authorship question has many reasons, but one of the most fundamental enigmas is the seeming discrepancy between what we know about the biographical facts of the Shakespeare from Stratford and the sheer number and brilliance of the plays themselves. It’s not to say that a successful theater and landowner/speculator could not have written the world’s finest dramatic works, but it just seems odd. It seems worth inquiring about. But for the orthodox scholar, the matter is settled. No room for doubt. That rather arrogant, academic resistance to inquiry is what has riled a lot of us and compelled is to press for better answers than the ones we have been given. As Sabrina has so brilliantly demonstrated in her research and Bate and Rasmussen (staunch Stratfordians both) in their handsome new supplement , the Apocrypha may represent a fruitful path to follow toward acquiring those answers.

A final note: For Bate and Rasmussen to omit from their commentary the original work done by Ms Feldman speaks directly to the myopia of current orthodox scholarship; and shows an inability on their part to think in any way other than the ordinary and pre-conceived.

SAC Challenges Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to Mock Trial! / Offers £40,000 Donation for “Proof” of Authorship

£40,000! That’s the wager. Did he, or didn’t he?

On December 6th The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) challenged The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) to a mock trial, before a neutral panel of judges, during which both sides of the “authorship issue” would be debated and judged by the impartial rules of logic and evidence. To show how serious they are, SAC put up £40,000 (that’s British Pounds!).

After a fair presentation of the facts, if the judges rule that the SBT proved “beyond a reasonable doubt” that their man wrote the plays,  then their organization (a charity) is £40,000 richer. If, on the other hand, the judges rule that there is “reasonable doubt” about the man to whom they attribute the works, then . . . well: in either case the truth will have been served.

Seems like an attractive offer. Are the defenders of the Shakespeare orthodoxy willing to subject their arguments to anything like impartial rules of evidence? Or will they decline the chance to add £40,000 to their Shakespeare charity. Will they? Or, won’t they? 

You couldn’t ask for a better debate. In this corner, The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition, a worldwide group  dedicated to increasing awareness of reasonable doubt about the identity of William Shakespeare. ( Shakespeare Authorship Coalition ) And in the opposing corner, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who claim to be the world’s leading charity in promoting the works, life and times of William Shakespeare. ( http://www.shakespeare.org.uk/home.html ) They are linked to all the Stratford sites, and the tremendous Shakespeare PR machine.  (See our blog of August 8 for more on this running rivalry)

We of course encourage the SBT to accept the challenge and present their case in a fair and open public forum.

Below is a copy of the press release and the full-page ad placed December 6,in the Times Literary Supplement,

FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, 6TH DEC., 2013
                                                                  Contact Persons: U.K.: Alexander Waugh, SAC Honorary President
                                                                                                  U.S.: John M. Shahan, SAC Chairman and CEO
Taunton, Somerset, U.K., December 2, 2013 – Today the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition (SAC) announced an offer to donate £40,000 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust (SBT) in Stratford if it proves ‘beyond doubt’ in a mock trial that William of Stratford wrote ‘Shakespeare.’ The donation offer, conveyed to the SBT in an open letter, appears in a full-page ad published today in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) (text shown below). The Birthplace Trust hasn’t yet responded to the offer, so the SAC decided to put it on the public record. In addition to the £40,000, the SAC has offered to raise all of the money to pay for the mock trial. No deadline has been announcedfor when the offer expires.
The mock trial challenge was communicated to the SBT in the book Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? (Shahan and Waugh, eds.; 2013), written in response to the similarly-titled book, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt, edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, both of the Birthplace Trust. Today’s TLS also includes a full-page ad for Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? ‘Our book presents a compelling case for reasonable doubt,’ said Alexander Waugh. ‘We only decided on the donation offer after it became clear that the SBT had no intention of defending its claim’, he added.
The open letter includes a list of those who pledged to put up the money – 40 pledges, totaling £40,000 (see list after the open letter below). Among the 43 people named are SAC patrons Derek Jacobi and Michael York; 23 Americans, 14 Brits, 3 Canadians, and 3 Dutch/Germans; 34 people with advanced degrees (23 doctorates); 17 current/former academics; authors of 10 authorship books; and 1 retired USAF general.
The following is the text of the open letter ad in today’s Times Literary Supplement:
***********************************************************************************************

SAC challenges Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to Mock Trial!

Offers £40,000 donation if they prove Shakspere wrote works.

Why would they decline if the case for him is “beyond doubt”?

_____________________________________________________________________________________________

 The following letter was sent to the Birthplace Trust on 8th November, 2013:

 Open Letter to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

c/o Peter Kyle, Chairman, Board of Trustees

Henley Street, Stratford-upon-Avon

 Re: £40,000 Donation Offer

 Dear Mr. Kyle,

 On 4th July, we wrote to you with the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition’s invitation to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust to take part in a mock trial of its claim that the identity of the author of the works of William Shakespeare is ‘beyond doubt.’ On 6th September, you replied, rejecting our invitation.

While we understand the position the Trust is taking, we hope you agree that it would be desirable to resolve our diametrically opposed views—yours that it is ‘beyond doubt’ that Shakspere of Stratford was the author Shakespeare; ours that there is ‘reasonable doubt,’ and that the authorship issue should therefore be regarded as legitimate. While you say that you have ‘nothing to add,’ it yet remains for you to test your stated position against the opposing case in an orderly, objective and neutral forum that would be appropriate to and in keeping with the Parliamentary Charter under which the Birthplace Trust operates.

 As an inducement to participate, the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition hereby offers to donate £40,000 to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust if it proves, in a mock trial before a panel of neutral judges, that Shakspere of Stratford wrote the works you attribute to him.

 We are, of course, open to alternative formats, procedures and venues for the mock trial, as long as they are even-handed, they provide a valid test of the Birthplace Trust’s claim, and each side has ample opportunity to present evidence and for challenges and rebuttals. Both the Coalition and the Trust should be responsible for the costs of its own team. The Coalition will, however, undertake to raise the funds needed to pay the costs involved in putting on the mock trial after we have reached agreement on all necessary arrangements.

 A list of those who have pledged to contribute towards the £40,000 donation is enclosed. Once we’ve reached agreement on all of the important details (format, venue, dates, etc.), the SAC will collect the money pledged and place it in an escrow account before the trial.

Sincerely yours,

Alexander Waugh                                             John M. Shahan

Honorary President                                           Chairman and CEO

Shakespeare Authorship Coalition                     Shakespeare Authorship Coalition

 

[For the list of 40 pledges totaling £40,000, visit the SAC website at: doubtaboutwill.org;

and, while you are there, be sure to read and sign the ‘Declaration of Reasonable Doubt’.]

PBS Distributes “Last Will and Testament”

Buy this Movie!

Buy this Movie!

On October 15, PBS Distribution officially rolled out the DVD of Last Will and Testament, the remarkable documentary film that explores with beauty, intelligence and great depth the question of who wrote the works of William Shakespeare.

If you have an interest in the authorship question, you should order this film. Executive Producer, Roland Emmerich, who also produced and directed Anonymous, the full-length feature film on the subject, enlisted the estimable talents of director Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Mathias to make the non-fictional cinematic case for an author other than the man from Stratford. For over a year the movie has made the film festival circuit and debuted to excellent reviews in cities throughout the United States and Europe. (In fact the Canadian debut took place this weekend at the 2013 Annual Joint Oxfordian Shakespeare Conference in Toronto.)

And now you can order it on DVD from PBS.

www.shoppbs.org

http://www.firstfoliopictures.com/

Sir Derek Jacobi leads an impressive cast featuring Oscars-winning actress Vanessa Redgrave and Tony Awards-winning Mark Rylance on a quest to uncover the truth behind the elusive author, and discovers a forgotten nobleman whose story could rewrite history. It’s an awesome film. And now that PBS is rolling it out on DVD many more people will come to understand the controversy and why it has existed for over a hundred years.

Get the movie. Light the fire of genuine inquiry, and burn back the academic overgrowth of stodgy obstruction.

Run time is 85 minutes. It’s on www.shoppbs.org for $19.99.

“Frailty, thy name is woman.” NOT IN THIS “HAMLET”!

Lisa Wolpe play HamletHad Shakespeare met Lisa Wolpe or encountered her powerful theater company he would have dropped that line, or switched the gender perhaps; which is exactly what Wolpe and The Los Angles Woman’s Shakespeare Company does with its All-female, multi-cultural production of Hamlet at the Odyssey Theater Ensemble in Los Angles, California. It’s the company’s 20th anniversary and they’re celebrating by taking on the Bard’s longest and in ways most difficult role. Wolpe has set radically new standards of performance and interpretation as the production evokes a politically dynamic, sexually provocative and spiritually awakened frame of reference. Must see!

“I’ve long admired Lisa’s unique experiment of tackling Shakespeare utilizing an all female company of actors,” says OTE artistic director Ron Sossi. “It’s the sort of gutsy artistic excursion we thrive on here at the Odyssey.”

Wolpe herself says her primary drive for founding and sustaining the company “ . . . has been quite simply, the empowerment of women. I want the world to experience the intelligence, artistry and power of female voices, and watch these wonderful artists reveal themselves through the prism of the greatest poetry in the English language.” Which, I might add, they do!

About the (Alleged) Playwright

In a slight turn of this production toward the authorship question, the program notes contain the usual comments “About the (Alleged) Playwright”. Yes: (Alleged). It goes on to summarize the authorship controversy and state that “Alas, with few surviving documents to work from, no writers’ guild to arbitrate the matter, and no Facebook pages to tell us who liked whom in Elizabethan times, the question of Hamlet’s authorship likely will remain unresolved for at least the run of this production.” It is a sign of the times, when the likes of Vanessa Redgrave, Sir Derek Jacobi and esteemed theaters like the Odyssey acknowledge the value of this inquiry. When we met with her after her stellar performance Lisa would not say for the record who she thought may have penned the Canon, but we did talk quite a bit about Mary Sidney’s accomplishments as a woman competing in what was most assuredly a man’s world.

Hamlet & OpheliaA production with remarkable performances and total absence of “frailty”, if you are in the L.A. area, get over to the Odyssey and experience Lisa Wolpe as Hamlet.

PERFORMANCES:

 Performances of Hamlet take place on Fridays and Saturdays @ 8 p.m. and Sundays @ 2p.m.*, Aug. 30 through Oct. 27. (*On Sunday, Sept. 1 only, the performance will be @ 5 p.m. with no 2 p.m. matinee.) Additional weeknight performances are scheduled on Wednesdays @ 8 p.m. on Sept. 18, Oct. 2 and Oct. 16; and on Thursdays @ 8 p.m. on Sept. 12, Sept. 26, Oct. 10 and Oct. 24. Tickets are $30, except for the performance on Saturday, August 31 which is $45 and includes a gala reception following the performance. The Odyssey Theatre is located at 2055 S. Sepulveda Blvd., West Los Angeles, 90025. For reservations and information, call (310) 477-2055 or go to http://www.OdysseyTheatre.com.

2013 ANNUAL JOINT OXFORDIAN SHAKESPEARE CONFERENCE

Earl Showerman in 2012 delivers talk at London Conference for Shakekspeare Authorship Trust

Earl Showerman in 2012 delivers talk at London Conference for Shakekspeare Authorship Trust

Probably the best way to understand the players, diversity and “brainpower” behind the Shakespeare authorship question is to attend one of several conferences that are held throughout the year. One of the best is coming up soon in Toronto.

North America’s two leading Oxfordian associations –the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society — have announced that their 2013 Joint Conference will take place in Toronto, Canada from October 17 – 20, 2013 at the Metropolitan Hotel.

The Joint Conference, held with the support of the Theatre and Drama departments of York University and the University of Guelph, two major Canadian universities, will take as its theme: “Shakespeare and the Living Theatre.”

In addition to a variety of papers on related subjects, there will be a trip to Canada’s internationally-acclaimed Stratford Festival to see a production of “The Merchant of Venice” and meet the director Antoni Cimolino who is also the new artistic head of the festival.  The conference events will also include an open public debate on the authorship question and a screening of at least one new film about the authorship.

            Check the two websites for registration information and special conference hotel rates.

 www.shakespearefellowship.org

www.shakespeare-oxford.com

“Shakespeare Beyond Doubt:” or “Beyond Doubt?”

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells (May 27, 2013)

Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? — Exposing an Industry in Denial by John M. Shahan and Alexander Waugh (May 23, 2013)

“Shakespeare Beyond Doubt:” and “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt?”; one a declaration of fact. The other an inquiry and counter-argument to the first.

These two books, both published in late May, offer perhaps the best opportunity to date to examine in detail and from multiple points of view the current evidence and arguments regarding the authorship of the Shakespeare Canon. Were the works created by a singular genius born in Stratford on Avon, or were the names “Shakespeare”, “Shakspeare” and “Shakspere” pseudonyms, used to conceal the true author(s) of the most extraordinary literary works ever written?

SBD.1

sbd“Shakespeare Beyond Doubt: Evidence, Argument, Controversy” argues adamantly for the traditional story. It was edited by Paul Edmondson and Stanley Wells, and although the book was published by Cambridge Press, both of the editors are officially associated with the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the sole purpose of which is to preserve the official legacy. The fact that Mr. Wells, Mr Edmondson and the Birthplace Trust felt such a strong compulsion to compile this collection of essays in support of their orthodoxy is telling; and represents a shift in the “authorship zeitgeist.” As more and more people throughout the world have begun to question the traditional story, Wells and Edmondson recruited an esteemed group of scholars and writers to try and shore it up.

 

The second book, “Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? – Exposing an Industry in Denial” is a fierce and thoroughly informed response to the arguments made in the Wells book. It takes them on point by point. The book was compiled by John Shahan and Alexander Waugh. Shahan has been an articulate spokesman for the anti-Stratfordian position for many years. He founded the Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and launched the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt, which has succeeded in getting academics, artists and professional lay people throughout the world, including Mark Rylance, Sir Derek Jacobi and two Supreme Court justices to state categorically that there is definitely “reasonable doubt” about the identity of William Shakespeare. The two books offer an excellent opportunity to learn from the debate: Beyond Doubt? Or Reasonable Doubt? You decide.

The position of the Roundtable is that authorship is a legitimate question worth asking. Most academic institutions not only refuse to make the inquiry, but demean those who do. Our goal is to encourage more research, provide a forum for new evidence and ideas and oppose unofficial censorship.

“Baleful Weeds and Precious-juiced Flowers” A Talk by Louis Fantasia

Speaking on Plants and the Canon

Speaking on Plants and the Canon

If  you’ve been a member of the Roundtable for a while, then you know Louis Fantasia. He’s a widely acclaimed theater director, actor and author; not to mention an engaging lecturer on all aspects of the Canon. Last November, just before the election, he spoke to us on the subject of Rome and Politics in the plays. And on Saturday, March 16, at 10:00 am at the Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden’s Palm Room, Fantasia will deliver yet another of his juicy musings on the bard; this one entitled “Baleful Weeds and Precious-juiced Flowers” – a discussion of Elizabethans and their relationship with plants and flowers.

I know a bank where the wild thyme blows,

Where oxlips and the nodding violet grows,

Quite over-canopied with luscious woodbine,

With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine:

There sleeps Titania sometime of the night,

Lull’d in these flowers with dances and delight.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.255-60)

Flowers and plants were important to Shakespeare and other Elizabethan and early modern English writers on three levels: plot, symbol, and signifier.  For example, in plays as diverse as A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM and ROMEO & JULIET the “juice” of plants form essential plot points, whether it is transforming lovers’ eyes or feigning death.  On the level of signifier, the most obvious examples are the White and Red roses of the History plays, denoting the houses of Lancaster and York.  But, in HENRY V, for example, a leek is used to signify a Welshman.  As symbol, the Elizabethan trope was that “the beauty of the rose was in its passing” – the first bloom of love or buds of youth would inevitably fade, leaving, in the words of Shakespeare Sonnet 73, “bare ruined choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.”

Louis Fantasia is currently Chair of the Department of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the New York Film Academy (Hollywood campus), and Director of Shakespeare at the Huntington, the teacher training institute of the Huntington Library, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, California.  He has taught at the Juilliard School and the University of Southern California School of Theatre, the London Theatre School (Head of Acting and Director of Studies) and Schiller College-Europe University (Chair and Artistic Director of Theatre Programs).  From 1988 to 2002, he was Education Director of the Shakespeare Globe Centre’s Western Region and ran the Globe’s actor/director training programs in London.  In 2003, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg named the theatre collection at its library in the European Parliament in honor of Louis Fantasia, who holds both U.S. and European Union passports.  In 2007, he served as President of Deep Springs College. His second book, Tragedy in the Age of Oprah, will be published by Scarecrow Press in 2013.

Who: Southern California Hemerocallis & Amaryllis Society

What: “Baleful Weeds and Precious-juiced Flowers” with Director & Educator, Louis Fantasia.

Where: L.A. County Arboretum & Botanic Garden – Palm Room
301 North Baldwin Ave. Arcadia, CA 91007 
When: Saturday, March 16, 2013 at 10:00 a.m.

Admission:  First-time guests are free.

Don’t Miss Louis Fantasia! “SHAKESPEARE’S POLITICS: MEN IN SHEETS!”

Speaks November 10th

On November 10, 2012, the Roundtable hosts a very special lecturer speaking on a very topical subject: Politics! Just four days after we find out the results of our own contentious political season, the great Louis Fantasia will speak to the politics of Renaissance England, where there may be some comparisons to be made.

“SHAKESPEARE’S POLITICS: MEN IN SHEETS!” is the name of the lecture and will be given Saturday, November 10, 2012 10:30-12:30pm at Roxbury Recreation Center, Room 101 , 471 S. Roxbury Dr.(Corner Roxbury & Olympic), Beverly Hills, CA 90212

Shakespeare’s politics – and those of his fellow Elizabethans – were informed and defined by a single, if complex and complicated, model: Rome. The Roman body politic took several forms: dictatorship, empire, republic, and each of these found its way into Elizabethan political thought. This talk will not only explore Shakespeare’s Roman plays, but will also look at the rest of the canon, where “Roman” issues manifest themselves in the Histories, Tragedies, Romances, and even the Comedies.

Louis Fantasia has produced and directed more than 150 plays and operas worldwide. Louis is currently Chair of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the New York Film Academy’s Universal Studios/Burbank campus, and Director of Shakespeare at the Huntington, the teacher training institute of the Huntington Library. In 2003, the Council of Europe in Strasbourg named the theatre collection at its library in the European Parliament in honor of Louis Fantasia, who holds both U.S. and European Union passports. His book, Instant Shakespeare: A Practical Guide for Actors, Directors and Teachers has been used worldover and his second book, Tragedy in the Age of Oprah, will be published by Scarecrow Press.

Join US!

The Summer of Our . . . Disinterment?

King Richard III

You’ve probably heard the big news. The whole world is abuzz with it. Archeologists in Leicester, England think they may have found the remains of King Richard III buried deep beneath a council parking lot. Scientists searching for the grave have said “strong circumstantial evidence” points to a skeleton being the lost king. The remains show wounds to the skull and a scoliosis of the spine. The University of Leicester will now test the bones for DNA against descendants of Richard’s family. Professor Lin Foxhall, head of the university’s School of Archaeology, said: “Archaeology almost never finds named individuals – this is absolutely extraordinary.”

And it is extraordinary. If the bones turn out to be Richard’s, then a whole slew of historical questions might be clarified, and others raised: was Richard the hunchback Shakespeare made him out to be? Was his depiction of the last Plantagenet monarch part of the wider Tudor campaign to discredit the former crown? Will it change Mark Rylance’s already brilliant and nuanced interpretation of the villainous character, which opens for a very limited run at the Apollo theater on November 6. Who knows? (btw: Mark is a steadfast supporter of the Roundtable and inquiry into authorship)

Rylance as RIII

But the find does have subtle implications for the authorship question, too. History is never finished, no matter what tenured academics might like to believe. The quest for “truth” must pry open the creaky, rusted gates of convention. In a June blog we reported on the recent discovery of the remains of the Curtain theater in Shorditch. So . . . where’s the thatch? For years scholars believed the Curtain, like the globe, had a thatch roof, but the excavation showed no sign of it. Tiles perhaps. There was some evidence of tiles. This is not a game changer, of course. But it does alter what we believe about the time, AND the theater.  If the skeleton turns out to be Richard’s it is pretty solid proof that things long past and given up as lost forever — in academic terms: “settled” — can still turn up, in a parking lot no less. Let’s keep looking!

Below is a pretty good commentary from a Guardian reporter on the scene:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/sep/13/richard-iii-discovery-remains?newsfeed=true

Still Time to Register: The Pasadena Shakespeare Authorship Conference, October 18 to 21

Edward deVere, 17th Earl of Oxford

The eighth annual joint authorship conference of the Shakespeare Fellowship and the Shakespeare Oxford Society will convene in Pasadena, California October 18-21, 2012 at the Courtyard Pasadena Old Town by Marriott. For special conference room rates call 888.236.2427 or reserve rooms on line at: http://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/ laxot-courtyard-los-angeles-pasadena-old-down/

Having the conference in Southern California is a great opportunity for local SAR members (and non-members, too) to hear and mingle with many of the finest minds in the country to engage with the Authorship question. Speakers include, Professors A.J.(Tony) Pointon, Roger Stritmatter and Don Rubin, as well as  Katherine Chiljan, Bonner Cutting, John Hamill, Helen Gordon, Jennifer Newton, and Earl Showerman. Plus screenings of Lisa Wilson’s and Laura Wilson Mathias’ documentary film, “Last Will & Testament; and the debut of Cheryl Eagan-Donovan’s Controversy Films project, “Nothing is Truer than Truth”, based on Mark Anderson’s book, “Shakespeare by Another Name.”

We might point proudly to several esteemed speakers who hearken from the Roundtable itself: John Shahan, Lance Fogan, James Ulmer, Sylvia Holmes and of course Sabrina Feldman who has recently published the stirring, “The Apocryphal William Shakespeare, Book One of A ‘Third Way’ Shakespeare Authorship Scenario”

Huntington Library

Also, the trip to the Huntington Library is not to be missed. Scheduled from 1:00-2:00 on Thursday afternoon, October 18th, the staff of the Huntington will put on display a dozen or so rare books from its collection, described as “nothing short of extraordinary.” For more details about the conference program check out websites for the Shakespeare Fellowship: http://www.shakespearefellowship.org/

And The Oxford Society at: http://www.shakespeare-oxford.com/

“Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow . . .”  is good drama”, but what you’ll want is a good seat. There’s still time to register. See you there.

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