A month ago feels like a fleeting year since playing Henslowe and improvising in Original Pronunciation.
Henslowe and Alleyne. What a pair!
Grace Iopollo’s lecture-performance (with actor reading) told us about Edward Alleyne who forced a change in Henslowe’s Will the day before he died. He could barely hold the quill. A bunch of witnesses all swore he was in his right mind. He started the Probate process of the Will the day after. A sunday nota bene.
There was a lot at stake. For example, Dulwich College would not exist without it. (mind you his own diversified portfolio was substantial in and of itself). Alleyne’s consolidating his assets with Henslowe’s, literally funded the College. Quelle geste! as Cyrano might say. A selfless gesture he needn’t have made. Why did he?
Alleyne’s wife was Henslowe’s step-daughter. Henslowe’s relatives by birth or marriage missed out on some nice pieces of pie as a result. History isn’t always based on virtuous results. Even if the results are virtuous. Conspiracy anyone?
Speaking of which.
The FB Group of this BLOG finds me defending the man from Stratford once again in a most contradictory way. Because i say, the authorship question (SAQ) doesn’t matter as we have the extant plays and poems written by whoever.
Yet whenever the Authorship enthusiasts put up a website or post comments: there i am, defending and arguing. i’m not alone. There is a website devoted to it called OXFRAUD. We, the members of Oxfraud on fb, rebut the newest arguments and various fallacies many individuals bring to the game.
Hooligans or Supporters
This has as much to do with enjoying Shakespeare as football hooligan firms do to football. And is frowned upon as much by virtually every University, College and School on the planet with a minority of exceptions.
The main players in the SAQ tried for over 150 years to legitimise their claims. (they will tell you since Rev Wilmot in the 18thC). The online world of the 21stC provides them with a platform. The problem is after thorough ad hominem bashings in the various forums, they retreated into secret groups on fb and troll the news looking for new comment threads. They proselytise amongst each other and are active with blogs and websites. And self-published books.
Their latest champion Ros Barber. Each month she adds more words to her e-book thesis, i.e. smashing what is known and held as evidence about Shakespeare in order to pave the way for some other. (she wrote a book about Marlowe, so presumably he her man).
The one and only thing the other team agrees on is that
it wasn’t Shakspere of Stratford (spelling and place vilified and scorned) who wrote the plays and poems attributed to him.
They conclude that all evidence for him is flawed and biased, or an incomplete narrative.
Other than that they contradict each other constantly and I think that’s what i enjoy.
The other side aren’t stupid btw. They number a handful of judges and an astro-physicist, a psychiatrist, and an ex-CIA guy. Some are extremely knowledgeable about the Early Modern period. Others not so, and they simply swallow the kool-aid the wiser sort hand them.
Ovine or Bovine?
But then that’s exactly what they say i am doing. I am either a sheep or a cow who definitely cannot think for myself. Enthralled to the Stratford tourist industry headed by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, who they believe keeps us on their payroll. This belief is becoming widespread thanks to the web.
My stomach hurts from laughing at the improbability of this ever having happened or happening. And yet it’s still believed. Ros for example is being assisted by her organisation, so why not? Except it isn’t.
Full disclosure: i have been paid to perform at the SBT for their members. And i count Stanley and Paul as friends. But i certainly don’t need to fight their battles for them.
i also attended the Shakespeare Institute and i love scholarship. The other side often claim :
Get Shakespeare wrong and you get the whole Elizabethan era wrong.
Hear, hear. Boy o boy are they wrong. Because if you follow their logic, then all scholarship on Shakespeare for the last 400 years is wrong.
But that leaves the inconsistencies they bring to the feast.
There are enough websites that state the historical case for Stratford man and London theatrical playwright and poet William Shakespeare. Fortunately original documents and source reading materials are becoming more accessible.
Remember Shakespeare was an infinitesimal speck of worth in his own times. The historical record preserved this much. And yes it has been questioned every step of the way. Scholars barely agree as it is.
Caveat emptor. Buyer Beware.
Having spent far too much time researching and arguing this subject, i now condemn it as regularly as i can.
Starting with the magnum Opus by Charlton Ogburn senior and his wife Dorothy moving on to Mark Anderson and his SBAN down to Diana Price and her biased writer’s trail, i can honestly say i hate this subject.
Not because they’re right. Because each new website, author, pundit, whatever; makes the whole argument like Groundhog Day.
Now i feel i should make a Prospero-like gesture and bury my wrath and antagonism some five fathom deep. But i can’t.
There is one other thing we all do agree on and that is
the quality and sublimity of the content in the plays and poems.
Keep repeating this mantra:
The Shakespeare Authorship Question doesn’t factor into the works at all.
But judge for yourselves if you think it does.
Flout em and scout em thought is free.
Just remember the way out of an argument about the SAQ is to remind the person shoving your ignorance down your throat that it just doesn’t matter if you are performing the plays or reading them.
Do i contradict myself?
So be it.
Do you think i’m deluding myself?
i challenge you to sonnets at dawn!
And Henslowe at the SWP?
What a joy to be able to concentrate on someone who spans the entire theatrical period contemporary with all the Elizabethan and Jacobean playwrights, poets, actors, and theatre owners slash entrepreneurs and not to have anything at all to do with that much-maligned and over-publicised