It is my pleasure to report that approximately 40 members of the Adult Learning Institute graciously, many enthusiastically, attended our Oberon presentation Thursday, October 1, featuring Ron Destro’s “Who Really Wrote Shake-speare?”
The Adult Learning Institute is a remarkable organization of 180 senior citizens who attend an impressive, challenging series of lectures, performances, seminars, and other programs about historical, literary, cultural, social and other topics and issues.
ALI is affiliated with the Elderhostel Institute Network and sponsored by Oakland Community College which hosts the group’s activities at its Orchard Ridge Campus.
In brief opening remarks, I polled the audience. The overwhelming majority of those in attendance raised their hands when asked if they believed that William Shakspere of Stratford wrote the plays attributed to William Shakespeare as we have been taught. A small number of hands went up to indicate those who thought someone else might have written the plays under the name Shakespeare. In all truth, even that small number might have been skewed a bit since it included several Oberon members and others already acquainted with the issue.
Immediately after Destro’s DVD concluded, the same vote was taken. This time, only two of the original vast majority for Shakspere of Stratford remained. The rest of the audience now doubted that the Stratford man was the true author and saw the issue as a legitimate subject of further research.
These results are entirely consistent with Mr. Destro’s experience with audiences which he has acquainted with the authorship issue. He should know that this audience was quite appreciative of his presentation, and I would like to thank him once again for making it available to us.
Especially gratifying to me was the interest in authorship displayed by ALI members as evidenced by their perceptive questions, their open minds, their welcoming new ideas and willingness to accept challenge to established beliefs. It is a confirmation of the hunger of young and old alike to know more about authorship once they become aware of the details. It is a demonstration that once one understands the issues of authorship, one must admit and accept the reasonable doubt which results and pursue further investigation.
As I explained to the two ladies who voted for the Stratford man at the end, we have no intention of taking away anybody’s Shakespeare. But, for me and for so many others, the reading and research which I have done in pursuit of the issue have increased my enjoyment and understanding of Shakespeare more than I can express. Then I added, we must pursue the issue if only to establish the truth. When I said the word “truth,” a man in the last row who had not taken part in the discussion nodded his head vigorously. It is such a simple thing. As one 16th century aristocrat wrote time and again, we must never forget about the truth. “For,” as he wrote, “truth is truth though never so old and time cannot make that false which once was true.” His name was Edward de Vere, and it is clear that he is speaking clearly across the centuries to us still.
Tom Hunter, Oberon Chair