Sunday, January 10, 2016

Report from January Oberon meeting

Macbeth with Michael Fassbinder, film trailer

At our Oberon meeting yesterday, Chairperson Richard Joyrich, MD told our group that the Royal Shakespeare Company LIVE! 2015-16 production of The Winter’s Tale with Dame Judy Dench is now showing in limited release at movie theaters across the USA. The film will be shown at The Maple Theater in West Bloomfield, MI on Monday January 12, 2016 at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m. Several Oberon members plan to attend. A list of various dates and venues for showings elsewhere can be found at:

Also, the National Theatre LIVE! high-definition broadcast of their 2015 production of Hamlet with Benedict Cumberbatch, will be shown at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. January 17, 2016 at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. 

Joyrich also told us that The Year of Lear: 1606 author, James Shapiro, will be speaking on the topic of “The Scottish Play” at 10:30 a.m. June 18 at The Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario. Oberons will make plans to attend this event. For tickets, see

Oberon treasurer Rey Perez reported he recently enjoyed seeing the new Macbeth film with Michael Fassbinder in the title role. The Fassbinder Macbeth will be available on DVD and Internet streaming soon. For information, see

In addition, our group discussed the possibility of hosting a special event for the Shakespeare UN-birthday on June 24, 2016. Stay tuned.

Happy birthday, Rosey!
Speaking of birthdays, we all congratulate our friend and colleague Rosey Hunter on her double-seven birthday coming up this week. Many happy returns, dear Rosey!

Update 01/11/16:
Rey Perez said: "I Just found out that Rupert Goold's Macbeth video from 2010, with Patrick Stewart and Kate Fleetwood, is freely available to watch online at the PBS website. This availability expires the 24th of this month."

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Nina's choice

Dugdales's Antiquities of Warwickshire Illustrated (1656) online, p. 520

Canadian, Shakespeare-authorship researcher Nina Green gave her Phaeton email discussion-group a new year's gift in her December 31, 2015 message titled "Bookmarks". Green gave us permission to share her insight and her treasure trove of online resources with Oberon readers. Thanks, Nina!

Nina Green said:
I'm going to be away from my home computer for a while, so I've been transferring bookmarks to the laptop I'm taking with me. I thought Phaeton members and other Oxfordians might find some of them useful for Oxfordian research. The only two which are paid subscriptions are the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the Oxford English Dictionary, but the ODNB features an interesting biography every day which is free. 
Incidentally, and on a slightly different topic, I continue to find it absolutely amazing that one can access such an enormous number of old books online nowadays, thanks to the wonderful website, and the Google digitization project. 
We all owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the latter two, as well as to all the painstaking writers who in the late 1700s, 1800s and early 1900s researched their local English families and communities, and published the results of their work. Without those early researchers, many of them amateurs, much of that invaluable information would be almost inaccessible -- and because of them, and because of and the Google digitization project, it's available free online. 
Anyway, here's the list of bookmarks, and hopefully there will be something to interest you.
Nina Green
Nina's Choice

Nina Green's The Oxford Authorship Site
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
Oxford English Dictionary
National Archives Will Search
Genealogical Journals
Herle Project
Henslowe's Diary
Loseley MSS at Folger
Surrey History Center (Loseley MSS)
Who's Who of Tudor Women
Essex Record Office
Titled Elizabethans
Shakespeare Documented
Handbook of Dates
British History Online
Digital Renaissance
Rutland Manuscripts
Inquisitions Post Mortem
Oxford Index
Alan Nelson
Shakespeare Search
Pipe Rolls
List of Women at Tudor Court
Digest of Property Law
Earls Colne Project

Nina Green may be contacted at: devere at telus dot net.

Sunday, December 6, 2015

The one, the only, the very first Oberon selfie

Rosey Hunter, Richard Joyrich, Reynaldo Perez, Linda Theil, Barbara Burris, 
Mara Radzvickas, Pam Verilone, Sharon Hunter 
at Oberon holiday gathering in Bloomfield Hills, MI on December 5, 2015

Oberon's gathered yesterday for our annual holiday celebration hosted by Rosey Hunter at her home in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Rosey provided a sumptuous spread and Oberons provided good cheer. Rosey phoned Tom and Joy Townsend -- Oberons now residing in Seattle -- to share the festivities. Pam Verilone promised Tom and Joy a photo -- leading to antics that resulted in the very first- ever Oberon selfie, and putting the lie to scurrilous rumors that anti-Strats in any number are incapable of agreeing on anything.

Sharon Hunter and Mara Radzvickas at Oberon party Dec. 5, 2015

Hostess Rosey Hunter at Oberon party, Dec. 5, 2015

Monday, November 2, 2015

Exhibition at the Shiffman Medical Library

by Richard Joyrich

Last Thursday, October 29, I attended the opening reception of a traveling exhibit from the National Library of Medicine at the Shiffman Medical Library at Wayne State University in Detroit. The exhibition is titled, “’And there’s the humor of it’ Shakespeare and the four humors”.

As its name implies, this is an exhibition of Shakespeare’s references to the theory of the four humors regulating the body’s health and also a person’s character or temperament.

The exhibit, while small (only 6 standing panels) is well done and informative. It will be on display at the Shiffman Medical Library until November 28 (free admission). Most of the information (i.e. copies of most of what is on each panel) can be found on the online guide that the Wayne State University library system has prepared at

This guide also has information on local places to see performances of the plays as well as links to classroom teaching aids. Although the section on “About Shakespeare” has the traditional biography of the author, it also includes a link to a YouTube presentation called “William Shakespeare: The Conspiracy Theories”.

Despite the name of this presentation, it is actually mostly “Antistratfordian”, but it is really about Marlowe as the author (deVere is only mentioned near the end for about 10 seconds). However, when you follow the link to this YouTube video other authorship videos come up on the side that you can then view on all sides of the issue, including the Frontline program.

The library guide to this exhibition also links to the new book by Peter Rush, Hidden in Plain Sight, another take on the Sonnets, based on the work of Hank Whittemore.

Anyway, back to what happened at the opening reception:

There was a talk by Dr. Eric Ash, Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of History at Wayne State University. This was about a 30 minute presentation on the theory of the four humors as understood in Shakespeare’s time and how Shakespeare refers to it frequently in the plays, both in regards to actual illness and in regard to personality types in his characters. It was a well-done presentation.

After the talk, there was a reception with appetizers and also a showing of some of the books held in the Historical Collection of the Shiffman Library. It was nice to see these books (I didn’t know that the library had them). Included were Gerard’s Herball of 1597 and two works on anatomy by Vesalius (1551 and 1568). All of these works are believed to have been in the libraries of Thomas Smith or William Cecil, where Edward deVere would have had access to them.

I had made a copy of Frank Davis’s article from Volume 3 (2000) of The Oxfordian, “Shakespeare’s Medical Knowledge: How Did He Acquire It?”, available at
and also Chapter 9, “How Did Shakespeare Learn the Art of Medicine?”, written by Earl Showerman, from Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? An Industry in Denial (2013, ed. by John Shahan and Alexander Waugh), available from Amazon and other retailers.

I gave these copies to Dr. Ash and gave him a very quick summary of how the plays of Shakespeare show a great knowledge of the medicine of his time (including some newer ideas which were being developed in Italy and the “continent”, but had not yet penetrated to medical practice in England) and how it seems extremely unlikely that someone with Shakspere of Stratford’s background and education (and lack of travel) would have learned of any of this. Dr. Ash seemed interested and said he would read the articles.

I also got to talk with Dr. Sandra Yee, the Dean of the Wayne State University Library System, who was also at the reception. I wished that I had made another copy of the two articles to give her, but I told her I would email them to her.

She told me (as I already knew) that this particular exhibit at the Medical Library was part of a whole series of displays and presentations to be done at various venues at Wayne State University as companions to the upcoming national exhibition by the Folger Library of copies of the First Folio (coming to Detroit March 7-April 1, 2016).

She directed me to a listing of some upcoming events from the “library blog” at I will be trying to attend as many of these as I can and I hope members of our Oberon group will do so as well. A more specific website devoted to these events will be forthcoming, she said.

I would particularly direct your attention to the event on March 18, “Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Shakespeare But Were Afraid to Ask” by Dr. Athur F. Marotti, a “distinguished professor of English emeritus at Wayne State University”, talking about various interesting topics of Shakespearean research. However, the write up of this lecture specifically mentions that the “following non-debatable topics” will not be discussed: The Shakespearean authorship controversy, Evolution and Natural Selection, and Climate Change. I guess Dr. Marotti might be described as “close-minded”.

Despite this particular lecture I believe that our Oberon group and other open-minded individuals might still be able to make some of our views known through questions to lecturers or even handing out “literature” (but not too subversive).

I mentioned to Dr. Yee that I, along with the Oberon group, would like to participate as much as we can in all of the “festivities” associated with the Folio Tour, even to the point of doing our own presentations if that were possible. She did not turn me down right away and appreciated my interest, telling me that the full program of events had not yet been finalized. She did point out to me her belief that libraries should be open to all inquiries, whereupon I informed her that “free exchange of ideas” does not seem to apply to the English Departments of universities.

Anyway, I hope that my initial contacts with Dr. Ash and Dr. Yee may prove useful in the future in trying to “get the word out” that there is definitely room for doubt when it comes to determining the authorship of the works of Shakespeare.

Stay tuned.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Ros Barber visits the USofA

Margrethe Jolly, PhD; Kevin Gilvary, PhD; Alexander Waugh, Wally Hurst, JD; Ros Barber,PhD;
and Earl Showerman, MD; gather before the JPR radio talk-show on Sept. 23, 2015 in Ashland, Oregon.
Photo credit: Julia Cleave.

by Linda Theil

Ros Barber, PhD,  author of The Marlowe Papers, Shakespeare: the Evidence, and the forthcoming novel, Devotion, was one of six British scholars who presented at the 2015 Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Ashland, Oregon Sept. 24-17, 2015. We asked Barber to talk about her conference experience, and share impressions from her trip.

Barber’s synopsized her paper, “The Value of Uncertainty”, for the conference proceedings. 
Barber: Stratfordians are certain that William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon wrote the works attributed to him. Most non-Stratfordians are equally certain that he didn’t. This paper explores the benefits of uncertainty. Uncertainty not only allows us to be collegial, reducing the likelihood of stressful and energy-sapping personal battles, but by opening our minds to evidence and counter-arguments which undermine our position it allows us to discard weak arguments and concentrate on those which extend and deepen the challenge to orthodox thinking. Perhaps counter-intuitively, uncertainty also offers non-Stratfordians the possibility of gaining academic legitimacy for the Shakespeare authorship question. Using concrete examples of arguments and counter-arguments derived from researching and writing Shakespeare: The Evidence, this paper demonstrates why the apparently weak position of uncertainty is actually the strongest, most beneficial position a non-Stratfordian can adopt.

Given the content of your presentation, do you feel that you reached any people in the audience? What is your assessment of the current state of the debate and the degree to which your point-of-view may be gaining adherents?
Barber: It went down pretty well, I think. Lots of people came up to speak to me about it and it was referenced repeatedly in the presentations that followed. The current state of the debate is that it continues to be antagonistic and deadlocked. Although non-Stratfordians might feel they have made some headway in the last few years, Stratfordians remain in control of the way doubters, and the authorship question, are viewed; and as long as Shakespeare sceptics continue to fight fire with fire — rather than the cool water of rationality — the authorship question is unlikely to break into mainstream acceptance.

What did you think of the JPR radio program Wednesday morning?
Barber: The interview itself went very well, I think. But I was very unhappy about the web-page it was featured on: a clearly biased headline aligning authorship doubters with conspiracy theorists, a similarly ignorant slant in the text, and of course the usual antagonism and name-calling in the comments. Since I believe such things are best experienced in a neutral environment, I have uploaded the full interview to the SAT’s YouTube channel:  to where non-Stratfordians can safely direct friends and interested strangers.

How did the Wednesday afternoon OLLI panel (Barber; Kevin Gilvary, PhD; Julia Cleave, MA (Oxon.); Alexander Waugh, and Margrethe Jolly, PhD) go?
Barber: The turnout, at around 140, was the highest of any talk hosted by OLLI — the Oregon Lifelong Learning Institute — we were told. The talks were well received but I felt five speakers was probably too many, and proceeding through all five without a break probably a mistake! Nevertheless the vast majority of the audience stayed to the end, despite the heat. It was just a shame there was no time left for questions.

Anything stand out in your mind?
Barber: Someone made a comment to me after the OLLI panel that I should make the core of that talk available as a presentation which others could use. Or load up the slides and commentary onto YouTube. That’s something I would like to find the space for, perhaps in the Christmas holidays. I was also advised to visit Crater Lake, which I did, and was very glad of the tip.

Ros Barber's view of Crater Lake. Photo credit: Ros Barber

Have you been to US before?
Barber: I was born in the US — Washington DC. I lived in in the [San Francisco] Bay area for a year when I was six and seven [years old]. I was in New York two weeks after Nine Eleven to do a poetry reading at the mid-Manhattan library; a very strange time for my first trip to NYC. My last to trip to the States was June 2013 when I presented a paper at the Marlowe Society of America conference. I took the opportunity to visit [Washington] DC for the first time since I was a baby, staying in a hotel two blocks from where I was born.

Did you have a specific goal for this trip?
Barber: Not really. I hoped to deliver a useful paper, meet a few people in real life that I only knew through e-mail correspondence, and while I was Stateside, spend a weekend in Berkeley exploring my childhood haunts, and take in something of California and Oregon - the giant redwoods, and the Pacific coast along the way.

Did you achieve it?
Barber: I’d say so.

What did you think of Ashland?
Barber: Lovely little place. Probably a great place to go shopping if you had that kind of money. Classy hotel with genuinely lovely staff.

Best meal?
Barber: Lee Showerman’s chowder. [See sidebar for recipe, Ed.]

What did you think of the Ashland festival?
Barber: Pretty impressive having those three theaters all gathered in the same spot. Two out of three of the productions were also spot-on. I would have been happier if they’d had more than three Shakespeare plays on the roster, though. I fell in love with one of the OSF actors, Rex Young. He was a monumental Dogberry (on a Segway), and his Lepidus was the single most brilliant thing in Anthony & Cleopatra.

Rex Young as Dogberry and Lucas Lee Caldwell as Seacole in OSF Much Ado 2015. 
Photo courtesy Oregon Shakespeare Festival

Best play?
Barber: Pericles, maybe. Much Ado a close second but I hadn’t seen a live production of Pericles before and thought it very rich and moving. The use of music was particularly strong.

Most painful/annoying?
Barber: [People saying] “When Oxford wrote Hamlet . . .”, and any similar statement which takes Oxford’s authorship as a fact rather than a theory.  Nothing against Oxford — I feel the same about this kind of certainty no matter which candidate’s name is inserted. The only name we can properly use, to my mind, is “Shakespeare” — the author’s name, or pen-name. It is still the Shakespeare authorship question. It has not been answered. The certainty contained in statements like “When Oxford wrote Hamlet . . .” not only alienates those whom one might persuade, it makes a person prey to confirmation bias, and thus likely to commit exactly the same errors as the Stratfordians, and certainty almost invariably leads to flawed argument and lower scholarly standards.

Are you exhausted?
Barber: Nope!  Of course I’m answering this two weeks after getting back. But actually I slept off my jet lag in San Francisco and during the conference was in bed by 11pm.

You didn't talk all night in the hotel bar?
Barber: We were all staying in people’s homes rather than the hotel, so tended to disperse after the theater shows. In any case, I’m not much of a drinker, and more of a lark these days than an owl.

Any surprises?
Barber: Our Ashland host, Connie Stallings, had gone to a great deal of trouble to source a teapot and some real English breakfast tea. I wasn’t expecting to get a good cup of tea in America. I was moved by her efforts on our behalf.

Any treats?
Barber: Staying with Earl and Lee Showerman in Applegate was a treat, for sure. Wonderful hosts, wonderful place, wonderful food. [Barber stayed in Applegate with the Showermans before and immediately after the SOF conference in Ashland. Ed.]

What is your response to fellow Brit, Alexander Waugh, getting the SOF Oxfordian of Year award?
Barber: He thoroughly deserves it. I don’t agree with everything he says, but I have a real soft spot for Alexander.

How is being an anti-Strat different in the US from the EU? 
Barber: I can’t speak for the the EU! If I can reduce that down to Britain, it’s still pretty hard to answer the question. Undoubtedly Shakespeare is a British icon, and maybe more of sacred cow here than in the US. But I sense there is just as much opposition to doubt on that side of the pond, in certain quarters. I should also add I don’t call myself an anti-Stratfordian, but a non-Stratfordian. ‘Anti-’, to me, represents the kind of battle mentality which I am trying to side-step, in a wish to progress towards more a more reasoned and reasonable debate.

How is the Leanpub serial, electronic book doing? Are you happy with the project, progress, and process?
Barber: Shakespeare: The Evidence has become highly regarded, it seems, at least among its non-Stratfordian readers. I get a lot of good feedback. I’m pleased with the process: the level of reader participation (and correction/amendment!) that the Leanpub publishing platform allows. Progress has slowed this year due to the additional workload of my university post, and another Shakespeare-related project that I needed to complete ahead of the 2016 anniversary, but a great deal of research was done during that project that is ready for converting into the bullet-point format for Shakespeare: The Evidence. I’m being held up on the next issue, again by academic duties, but it remains my priority in the area of the authorship question: the backbone of everything else that I do.

More on the 2016 Shakespeare project?
Barber: Sadly can't say more at the mo' — still in the balance, may not come off!

You have a new book out last month that you have edited and co-authored — 30-Second Shakespeare: 50 Key Aspects of His Works, Life and Legacy, Each Explained in Half a Minute . Can you tell us about that?
Barber: 30-Second Shakespeare isn't an 'authorship' book. But it is perhaps the first mainstream Shakespeare book to take a completely neutral view of the authorship. Focusing on the plays themselves (and on the phenomenon of 'Shakespeare') it aims to be a complete pleasure for all Shakespeare lovers, whether believers in the traditional story, or supporters of alternative candidates. There are no biographical assumptions. The chapters are written by both Stratfordian and non-Stratfordian scholars, written so as to be easily digestible for those who know little about Shakespeare, but full of juicy in-depth information that will surprise and delight even the most knowledgeable and ardent of Shakespeare enthusiasts. I was very impressed by the quality of the contributions. There's also an excellent foreword by Mark Rylance.

Any breaking news?
Barber: My new novel, Devotion, which was published in the UK in August and comes out in May in the US, has been getting some great reviews. It’s not out in the US now, but The Book Depository ships free worldwide.

A stage version of The Marlowe Papers is in rehearsals. The play will run 26-31 January 2016 at Otherplace in Brighton, UK for initial week-long run — hopefully to transfer to London, assuming success! I adapted the play from the book with the help of the director, Nicola Haydn. No links are available yet; I’m hoping to get the publicity materials together in the next few weeks.

How would you characterize your USA trip. and how have you changed?
Barber: The largest aspect of the trip was very personal, and nothing to do with the conference. The highlight was the car that was my companion for 10 days.  I’m a sports car fanatic, and the Ford Mustang convertible I had booked was upgraded at the airport to a copper-red Mazda MX-5 convertible, which you guys call a Miata. I fell completely in love with my Miata. I’ve never driven a car with steering-wheel paddle-shift, and it was glorious. Winding at speed through the mountains in southern Oregon as dusk fell with not another car on the road will stay with me.

Ros Barber's red convertible on Avenue of the Giants, US Highway 101. Photo credit: Ros Barber

Was it worth it?
Barber: Certainly. I had a blast.


Ros Barber is a Lecturer in Creative and Life Writing at Goldsmiths, University of London, and author of the award-winning verse novel, The Marlowe Papers (2012), Shakespeare: The Evidence (2013), and Devotion (2015). She is the editor and co-author of 30-Second Shakespeare (2015). Her most recent publications include two articles in Notes & Queries [See links below. Ed.] and she has a forthcoming article titled "Shakespeare and Warwickshire Dialect" in a special April 2016 "Shakespeare" edition of the Journal of Early Modern Studies
She is Director of Research of the Shakespearean Authorship Trust (London). 

Shakespeare’s ‘Honey-stalks’ N&Q 2015 62/1 92-93

Bardolph and Poins N&Q 2015 62/1 104-107


Lee Showerman’s Salmon Chowder
shared with British scholars on the last night of their Oregon visit Sept 27, '15:
I would love to share [my salmon chowder recipe] with you, but the truth is: I’m not sure I remember it completely! The way I cook tends to be determined by what I have on hand. There was a lot of fresh grilled wild Pacific salmon — approximately five filets — that were used so it was a very dense chowder and — I have to admit — the best I ever made. 
Seems to me I sautéed onions and celery maybe a few garden tomatoes in coconut oil, then added either cauliflower or potatoes (can’t remember), maybe some green beans and 2 [13.5 oz.] cans of organic coconut milk, a liter of organic chicken broth, various spices and herbs, broke up the fish into it all and when it started to come to a boil I put either chopped chard (bunch) or spinach in and turn the heat off and left it alone for 15 minutes. Voila! a simple creation that turned out really well. I may have added a touch of chipotle pepper powder for a little bite, too. 
 Sorry I couldn’t be more precise. It is  once in a lifetime that I would have that much fish cooked and ready to go. Usually I start with an uncooked filet and create the broth with it along with an onion and celery, simmer until just about done. Remove the fish and skin and sauté veggies separately and then add all back together with herbs and coconut milk. 
 Good luck! 
 Best, Lee Showerman -- Applegate, Oregon

Friday, October 16, 2015

Cumberbatch Hamlet live!

National Theatre Live! broadcast of Hamlet. Get out the Dyson cordless!

Special-event simulcasts like the National Theatre Live! broadcast of Hamlet yesterday provide an absolutely new way of sharing Shakespeare. Remote-assignment Oberon member Tom Townsend sent the following Hamlet report from Seattle last evening.

Tom Townsend said: 
To my very good Oxfordian friends from the Seattle Oxfordian Group, and to the Oberon group in SE Michigan, Today Joy [Townsend] and I saw Benedict Cumberbatch’s ‘Hamlet.’ This 11;00am (Pacific Time) was actually a live performance of the play as was taped for re-broadcast.
The short review is this:You won’t want to miss this version of ‘Hamlet.’ We were impressed with the actors (mostly) and especially with Cumberbatch’s performance. The stage was used in interesting ways to make all the scenes and action clear. (On the other hand, some dialogue was deleted. You’ll remember this play contains many references to stars, retrograde, and the heavens. Only a few of the many references remained in the version.) Our theater in lower Queen Anne was packed. Only a few seats remained empty in the extreme first rows and a few seats on the far sides of the theater. It’s likely that all performances of this Hamlet will also be full. We hope all of you will have an opportunity to see this important and interesting production of Hamlet.
Oberon member Reynaldo Perez replied: 
Tom, As always good to hear from you.  I just now, 11h10 pm local time, got back home from the AMC 20 in Livonia where some of our SE Michigan Oberon group members saw the taped performance, which started at 7 pm -- late night in the UK.  Quite concur with your review.  I thought that, in particular, Hamlet, Ophelia, and Gertrude were very well cast and the placement of the soliloquies well done also. Other Oberon members will see a matinee performance shown at a later date. Not to be missed.
Oberon member Linda Theil replied:
Thank you, Tom, for your message and for linking us in Michigan with your friends in Seattle. As Rey said, some of us saw the Cumberbatch Hamlet last night and we all found it stimulating. My major reaction was the sense that because of the scene manipulation (and doubtless other content issues that I am not familiar enough with the play to be aware of) for the first time (for me) the through-line of the plot seemed crystal clear. I did not find the contrivances of Cumberbatch's costuming to be at all effective, but the emphasis on his madness ploy that those costume choices reflected was, for me, very helpful in elucidating the plot. IOW, in other Hamlets the madness seems momentary, but in this Hamlet, it seemed to define his purpose because it seemed to go on longer than I am used to. For whatever reason, the "problem" of Hamlet's indecisiveness (which I have never espoused, BTW) seemed to have evaporated -- and I thought that was a very good thing. 
I agree with Tom that the loss of the stars brought this Hamlet too much to earth. Speaking of which, I did NOT like all that dirt on the stage. I wanted to whip out my Dyson cordless and get to work on all that mess. But Richard loved it, saying it represented the disintegration of the firmament (or words to that effect -- RJ is never ponderous as I am wont to be).
Townsend said, "Time is out of joint!": 
It was great to hear from Linda [Theil] and Rey [Perez](Michigan) and Alan [Armstrong] (Seattle) [who will see an encore 10/31/15]. Linda, Thank you for your more detailed review of the ‘Hamlet.’ I know that both Joy and I felt this version was ‘clearer’ than other performances. However sometimes when a director ‘cleans up the wording for a modern audience’ they are dispensing with the important nuances specifically included by the true author (read: Oxford/Shakespeare). Also I appreciate you controlled your impulses to not to use your Dyson cordless on the dirt on the stage after the intermission. If that were possible, it would be quite interesting to say the least watching you at our Seattle theater with your Dyson on stage in London while ‘Hamlet’ is going on behind you!! “Time is out of joint.”
Richard Joyrich comments:
While I'd like to take credit for what Linda reports me saying, I did not use the word "firmament". I don't know where Linda got that, except from her own fertile mind. I was just saying that the increasing amount of dirt on the stage suggested some kind of break-up of the "natural order" or the "moral nature" of the characters. 
I agree with Linda and others in saying that the director obviously wanted the story to be more "linear" by switching scenes around and giving certain lines to different characters than in the original text. But, like others, I kind of miss the original order of these scenes. I think they make the audience think more and draw attention to the actual words (many of which have different layers of meaning).  
I particularly miss the traditional opening of "Who's there?", "Nay, answer me. Stand and unfold yourself", which in the Cumberbatch version was used at a later point in the play when Horatio comes in to talk to Hamlet. 
In the original version, this dialogue between two soldiers sets up the whole question of "identity", which is a frequent theme in all of the works of Shakespeare. 
Anyway, I did like this version of the play very much. As Linda said, the idea of madness was quite apparent. Ophelia's mad scenes were very well done, and I think even Gertrude seemed to be going a little mad at the end, kind of walking around in a daze.

If you missed the broadcast, see encores from October 22 and on:

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Shapiro abandons conditional for indicative, sez GG in NS

Germaine Greer hits the ball out of the park in her Oct. 6, 2015 New Statesman review of  James Shapiro's newest Shakespearean biography, 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear (Simon & Schuster, 2015). Greer says:
"For any writer of an extended narrative the temptation to abandon the conditional for the indicative is almost irresistible and Shapiro has not resisted it."
Greer complains specifically about Shapiro's cavalier attitude toward uncertainties in dating Shakespeare's plays, about unwarranted elaboration of Shakespeare's relationship with London landlady Marie Mountjoy, about inventing the meaning of daughter Susanna's failure to take communion, and other issues. Greer said:
With so little evidence, Shapiro is almost bound to overinterpret it.
. . . 
It is not easy for readers of 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear to determine when assumption becomes assertion, not least because Shapiro has chosen to provide rather congested endnotes instead of footnotes. This is only too understandable given the blizzard of commentary that surrounds the meagre facts of Shakespeare's life.

In his continuing anxiety to bolster the Stratfordian perspective following his 2010 book Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?, James Shapiro wrote a three-part series, The King & The Playwright: A Jacobean History that appeared on the BBC in 2012 and is available in DVD as "Shakespeare: the King's Man" on Amazon. This work placed Shakespeare firmly in the rhelm of King James and presumably out-of-reach of any nasty Elizabethan pretenders to The Bard's quill and scroll.

Shapiro's book on the topic, 1606: William Shakespeare and the Year of Lear (Simon & Schuster, 2015), debuted yesterday to the acclaim expected for the award-winning professor from Columbia U.

But even Charles Nicholl, in a lavishly positive review in yesterday's Guardian twists himself in knots trying to untangle Shapiro's "novelistic" snarls:
Shapiro demonstrates once again his skill in shaping quantities of research into a brisk and enjoyable narrative. The material is extremely condensed but does not seem so. One could describe certain passages as tending to the 'novelistic' -- a dread word in some adacemic circles -- but animating the historical data is very different from obscuring it with madeup conversations in unevidenced locations.
We say, "Hmmm."


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Theil articles on SOF news webpage

by Linda Theil
For Oberon weblog readers who are not familiar with the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship news webpage, I have gathered several of my recent posts to that page. Each entry below includes the post title, date the post was published, and a short introduction to the post content. To read each entire post, click on each headline. All hotlinks indicated by red letters in each post are live on the SOF news page.

"LLL music a labor of love by Duffin, Caird, and Schmidt" Oct. 1, 2015

Ross Duffin’s work in documenting the deep importance of music in Shakespeare’s plays is a valuable resource to all Shakespeare lovers. Duffin’s article “‘Concolinel’: Moth’s Lost Song Recovered?” published in the Spring 2015 edition of Shakespeare Quarterly* was reported this summer by SOF Newsletter editor Alex McNeil . . .

British authorship scholars Ros Barber, PhD; Kevin Gilvary, PhD; and Alexander Waugh will be guests of host Geoffrey Riley on the Jefferson Public Radio news and information program, The Jefferson Exchangefrom 9-10 a.m. PT on September 23, 2015. The show will repeat at 9-10 p.m. PT and will be available as a podcast after the broadcast. . . .

"Oxfordian 17 published" Sept. 16, 2015
The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship journal, The Oxfordian 17, produced under the leadership of new editor, Chris Pannell, is now available online to SOF members at The Oxfordian, password protected under the Publications tab on the SOF website. The hardcopy edition of The Oxfordian 17 may be ordered fromAmazon at a cost of $12.99. It is also available from Amazon in the UK and the EU. . . .
"Bevington to discuss First Folio at U Chicago October 17, 2015" Sept 14, 2015
David Bevington, PhD, will present a lecture titled, “The Assembling and Printing of the Shakespeare First Folio, 1623” at the University of Chicago Humanities Day October 17, 2015. The event is free and open to the public; registration is recommended. According to the University of Chicago’s online synopsis, Bevington chose his topic to coincide with the Folger Library’s “First Folio! The Book that Gave Us Shakespeare” tour of the US in 2016. . . 
"Wember translates Twain's 'Is Shakespeare Dead?'" Sept 11, 2015Hanno Wember of Hamburg, Germany has announced that his translation of “Is Shakespeare Dead?” from My Autobiography by Mark Twain will be published this month as the 2015 yearbook project of the German, Shakespeare-authorship organization, Neue Shake-speare Gesellschaft (New Shakespeare Society). The 136-page translation is titled Ist Shakespeare tot? Aus meiner Autobiographieand will be available in hardcopy from publisher Stratosverlag and from at a price of EUR 9,90. No electronic version is available. . . . 
"SOF launches YouTube channel" Sept 2, 2015
The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship has launched its own YouTube channel at SOF YouTube. The first SOF video is Bonner Miller Cutting’s “Early Modern Wardship and its Impact on Edward DeVere,”presented at the 2014 SOF conference in Madison, Wisconsin. . 
"Brief Chronicles VI available from CreateSpace" June 27, 2015
The Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship journal, Brief Chronicles VI, produced by general editor Roger Stritmatter, PhD, and managing editor Michael Delahoyde, PhD, is now available online to SOF members at Brief Chronicles VIunder the Publications Tab on the SOF website.
Hard copy issues will now be available to both membership and the general public at low cost through Amazon’s CreateSpace print-on-demand publishing arm at . . .