Monday, December 31, 2012

The [blog] hath not been dead, though it hath slept

Hi all,

Some of you may recognize the title of this post as a paraphrase of a line spoken by Angelo in Act II, scene 2 of Measure for Measure. The actual quotation begins "The law hath not been dead".

I think that the title is apt, since (for various reasons) there have been no posts to this blog since October 30 and I didn't want anyone to think that there is any problem with the Oberon group.

In fact, we are very much alive!

We are having our Annual Holiday Party this Saturday, January 5, 2013 at Hogan's Restaurant in Bloomfield Hills and then have our first group meeting on January 28, 2013 at the Bloomfield Township Library. There will be more details on these events in a later post.

We should all be looking forward to a new year with several expected events and opportunities to further our knowledge of Shakespeare and his times and to promote interest in the Authorship Question.

I am already looking forward to the next Annual Joint Conference of the SOS and SF in October, 2013 (dates to be announced), which will be held in Toronto, Ontario.

A side trip to Stratford, Ontario during the Conference is being planned as well, which might give conference attendees to see a production of the play which provided the title I gave to this blog (yes, Measure for Measure). They will also be doing The Merchant of Venice at Stratford in 2013. 

Seeing these two plays together in one season is a great opportunity. They are the two plays where Shakespeare demonstrates most his knowledge of the ongoing debate (at the time the plays were written) about the relative merits of the "Law" Courts and the "Equity" Courts, i.e. the difference between strict application of the law and a more merciful attempt to apply the "spirit" of the law.

Where the author learned about these two types of jurisprudence is of course an important question in determining who he really was.

Oberon will likely be planning our own trip to Stratford during the upcoming season (maybe in July or August). Stay tuned for details on that as well.

Happy New Year to everyone!

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Oberon officers elected

At our October meeting last night, Oberon members elected a new slate of officers:
Tom Townsend will be chair; Richard Joyrich will be vice-chair, Sue Munsell will be treasurer, and Linda Theil will be secretary. 

Monday, October 22, 2012

News notes from Oct. 18-21 SOS/SF conference in Pasadena

News highlights as reported by Oberon Chair and outgoing Shakespeare Oxford Society President Richard Joyrich from the 2012 Shakespeare Oxford Society/Shakespeare Fellowship annual conference held in Pasadena, CA Oct. 18-21, 2012:

John Hamill was elected SOS president by the Shakespeare Oxford Society board.

Tom Regnier is the new Shakespeare Fellowship president.

The Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship presented Shakespeare Authorship Coalition President John Shahan the 2012 Oxfordian of the Year award at the conference banquest October 21.

Actor Michael York was present to be honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Shakespeare Oxford Society and the Shakespeare Fellowship.

Next year's joint SOS/SF conference will be held in Toronto, Canada, and will include a side trip to Stratford, Ontario. SOS board member and Oberon chair Richard Joyrich will work on the conference committee along with new Shakespeare Fellowship board member Torontonian Don Rubin on next year's conference.

The new authorship documentary film Last Will. & Testament directed by Laura Wilson and Lisa Wilson will be available from iTunes and on-demand beginning tomorrow, Oct. 23, 2012. Richard Joyrich reported the Wilson's said the film may be shown on PBS next year.

Jack Shuttleworth has completed work on an Oxfordian Shakespeare Series edition of Hamlet that will be released in 2013 from Llumina Press. Llumina also published Oxfordian editions of Othello and Macbeth under the general editorship of Dan Wright and Richard Whalen. Order online from Llumina:
Oxfordian Shakespeare Series: Macbeth by Richard F. Whalen
Oxfordian Shakespeare Series: Othello by Richard F. Whalen and Ren Dreya

Lynda Taylor's historic novel about the Shakespeare authorship, To Be or Not to Be, has been released and is available on Amazon and may also be purchased for $5 as a Kindle download.

Outgoing Shakespeare Fellowship President Earl Showerman sent Oberon some highlights of his experience at the 2012 conference:
Our joint conference with the SOS came off rather well with about 80 people attending, including Renee Montagne and Michael York on special occasions. The presentations included 5 by our own board, as well as our journal editor, all of which were notably well received.
Michael York received a beautiful lifetime achievement award donated by Bonner, and wrote back that he was so thrilled with the award that it would have 'pride of place' on his personal desk.  Ben August donated the bronze statuette which went to John Shahan for his work on the SAC and the 60 minutes rebuttal coordination. The LA folks were gracious in helping with a big carpool, Sylvia Holmes sang beautifully, Betzi Roe brought 4 lovely dancers who performed for the group, and former SF trustee Michael Dunn was a raucously animated Charles Dickens who delighted the audience.
The Huntington put up a very special collection of 16th c. books with dedications to de Vere and his son.  One could easily note that on many dedication pages, Alexander the Great was the inspired figure compared to de Vere, which helps explain why Alexander is mentioned 4 times in just a few lines of Hamlet Act 5 - this was brought to our attention by Jack Shuttleworth, whose Oxfordian Hamlet edition is going to press any day - this  was +my personal revelation coming out of the conference.  All in all, a great time was had, and Don Rubin and his committee's plans for Toronto and Stratford, Ontario next October were approved by acclamation.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

See Bernhardt's Elizabeth in A2 October 12, 2012

The Academy of Early Music will host a screening of the 1912 silent film Queen Elizabeth with Sarah Bernhardt at 8 p.m. October 12. 2012 at the Michigan Theater,  603 E. Liberty in Ann Arbor. The film will be accompanied by the Newberry Consort performing live a new soundtrack composed of music by Elizabethan era composers William Byrd, Thomas Campion, and John Dowland. Consort director David Douglass will precede the film with a discussion of Elizabethan music at 7 p.m., one hour before the 8 p.m. showtime. Tickets are $20 for general seating. For tickets and information see the Academy of Early Music website or call 734-528-1838.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Next Oberon Meeting-September 24, 2012

This is Richard Joyrich, inviting everyone to come to our next Oberon meeting this coming Monday.

We will be meeting at our new location from about 6:30 PM to 9 PM at our new (perhaps temporary) location. This is the same place we met last month, although only four people came. We need to do better this month! 

You may be asking, "Where is this new location?". I can tell you that (it's also on our blog). The location is the Commerce Township Library. The address is 2869 N. Pontiac Trail in Commerce Township, but the library entrance is actually off of East Library Drive, which in turn is off of Martin Parkway, which in turn is off of the roundabout at Pontiac Trail and M-5.

Here's what you should do: 

If you are coming from I-96 or anywhere to the west or south, you should get onto M-5 going north. Then take that all the way north until it "ends" at the roundabout at Pontiac Trail (which is just north of Maple Road). Then go around the roundabout and take the SECOND exit, basically going "straight across" the roundabout in the same direction you were going (north) instead of turning into Pontiac Trail (which nearly everyone else will be doing). IMPORTANT: In order to do this you need to be in the second to last lane on the right.

You will then be on Martin Parkway and you will see the library ahead of you on the right. You then have to follow Martin Parkway to the next roundabout (a much smaller one) and take the first exit to go right on Library Drive (there will be signs for the library at this point). Then you will get to the Library parking lot and the entrance.

You can also get there by being on Pontiac Trail coming from the east or west. Just follow the roundabout at M-5 around until you can go north on Martin Parkway and then follow as above.

This is actually a lot easier to do than it is to write it down, so don't get worried.

It should be a very good meeting. Aside from our eagerly awaited Treasurer's Report (which we couldn't get last month) and our report of our media presence, we are planning to hear from Robin Browne on "WS 1616-1623". I'm not exactly sure what Robin will be talking about, but I know that he has access to some research that no one else has seen. He has been giving us "snippets" of it at previous meetings and it sounds fascinating!

We will also be talking about the upcoming SF/SOS Joint Conference to be held in Pasadena from October 18-21. It is not too late to register for this. Check out the websites for SF ( or SOS ( for more information.

There are many upcoming local events that we can plan for as well.

Don't miss it!

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Folger sez students don't need to learn Shakespeare bio

The Folger Shakespeare Library education department publishes a web-log titled  Making a Scene: Shakespeare in the Classroom that gives teachers advice on how to help students learn about the Bard. On Thursday, the topic of the post was "Teaching Shakespeare FAQs" that is a list of basic questions and answers about how to handle Shakespeare in the classroom. One of the questions considered basic by the Folger had to do with Shakespeare's biography:
Do I need to teach about the Globe Theatre or Shakespeare’s Life?The simple answer is “No.” While telling students that Shakespeare had three children and that he and Anne Hathaway had to get married might be interesting, it really doesn’t help them understand the plays. It’s much better to integrate some facts about Elizabethan life when they come up in the plays. So when Francis Flute protests, “Let me not play a woman. I have a beard coming” in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, that’s the perfect opportunity to explain the Elizabethan stage convention of young men playing the female parts.
So, according to the Folger, knowing who wrote the plays doesn't help readers understand the plays, but knowing some facts about the period helps readers understand specific aspects of the plays? Knowing SOME history is helpful, but knowing the history of the author ". . . really doesn't help [students] understand the plays."

Is this irrational double-speak the level to which a great institution is reduced in order to avoid the Shakespeare authorship controversy? Would any rational pedagogue say the same about teaching the work of Eugene O'Neill or Arthur Miller? 

We agree that teachers shouldn't perpetuate Shakespearean myths; but don't dump the search for infant truth out with the murky Stratfordian bathwater.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Nothing Truer Than Truth-Almost Finished

The following post is by Richard Joyrich.

I hope all of you are aware of a new documentary that will be coming out soon. It is Nothing Truer Than Truth, being done by Cheryl Eagan-Donovan. Those of you who have attended the last few Joint Authorship Conferences have seen various excerpts of this and I can tell you it looks fantastic!

Cheryl is hoping to have a rough "final" cut of the whole documentary to show at the upcoming Joint SF/SOS Conference in Pasadena this October (October 18-21). Cheryl's film is currently scheduled to show at 2:00 PM on Saturday, October 20.

Cheryl is launching another fundraising effort to get the last funds she needs to complete everything. I am including here an e-mail she sent me recently about this.

The campaign has now gone live and I can give you the link that Cheryl mentions in the last paragraph of her e-mail. It is

Please go to this site. There you can watch a film trailer and then make a contribution if you would like. There are all kinds of "perks" you can get for various donation amounts. The higher amounts will get you invited to a wrap party at Club Oberon (hmm, that name sounds familiar) in Cambridge, MA.

Thank you for your attention to this message.

Hi Richard, 

I hope you are well and enjoying the summer. Lots of news about NOTHING IS TRUER THAN TRUTH! We are working around the clock to finish editing for the rough cut screening at the Shakespeare Fellowship SOS Joint conference in Pasadena on Saturday October 20th. Our editor, Trina Rodriguez, is an accomplished producer, whose most recent film HIGH TECH LOW LIFE premiered at The Tribeca Film Festival in April and has gone on to win several awards. For that project, Trina and NOTHING IS TRUER THAN TRUTH co-producer Steve Maing edited more than 600 hours of footage down to a compelling 85 minute film that will screen on PBS next year. Trina is a graduate of The New School's Documentary Studies program. Her short film OUR LADY QUEEN OF HARLEM screened at MoMA's Documentary Fortnight and is being distributed by Third World Newsreel. She works as a freelance editor and producer in New York City, and we are very fortunate to have her on the Controversy Films team. 

Meredith Crowley is working on outreach for the film as co-producer. Her credits include 40 Million Strong, a documentary about children affected by HIV/AIDS in Durban, South Africa, and a documentary for the non-profit organization “Tremendous Hearts,” about housing for children affected by AIDS in Capetown, South Africa. She has edited programs including Lessons From Little Rock: a National Report CardKnock First, a reality series on ABC Family; and Au Revoir Expos, a documentary about the Expos baseball team. Her recent locations department credits include television programs Rescue Me (FX), Person of Interest (CBS),and Ringer (CW); and feature filmsArthur (Warner Bros), Friends With Kids, and Rabbit Hole.

We are set to launch our final finishing funds campaign today, this time with Indie Go Go, in an effort to reach new indie film lovers and supporters. I really appreciate your help with our fundraising efforts in the past, and your continued support of the film project. This time, I'm asking Advisory Committee members and supporters to help out in any way they can, including featuring the link on their Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and websites, matching funds, hosting Indie Go Go parties in their home towns or cities, writing articles or blogposts about the film that include the link, and more creative ideas to get the word out. Trina has agreed to work at a reduced rate and to defer her fee until we have raised funds. Meredith and Steve have agreed to defer their co-producer fees until after the film is completed, and I have not taken any salary during the six years that I have worked on the project. I am very fortunate to have a few part-time teaching jobs and a super talented crew of award-winning filmmakers dedicated to seeing this project screen at film festivals, art house theaters, schools, and on television. 

We will be posting daily updates with video after we go live later today. I will send you the link in a separate email.Thank you so much for your support. I look forward to hearing your suggestions for making this final fundraising effort a success! 



Cheryl Eagan-Donovan 
Controversy Films
49 Cross Street 
Winchester, MA 01890
(781) 729-6204 office
(617) 312-0924 mobile

Friday, August 24, 2012

Download the Oberon 2011 yearbook free in eBook format

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Yearbook 2011 

The 2011 edition of the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Yearbook is available in print and in a free, searchable, ebook format from Blurb. This huge edition is 167 pages; among many issues, the 2011 edition chronicles the release of Roland Emmerich's anti-Stratfordian film, Anonymous, and lists commentary and reviews of the film. You can preview the entire 2011 yearbook on Blurb. More information about print and ebook editions of Oberon yearbooks is available at "Order FREE digital Oberon yearbooks from Blurb". Print editions may be ordered at a 20% discount -- when ordering two or more books -- until August 28, 2012 by using the code PROJECT.


Monday, August 20, 2012

Suzman uses authorship controversy to drum up publicity for her new book

In aid of promoting her new book, Not Hamlet, actress Dame Janet Suzman used the Shakespeare authorship question to generate headlines by making uninformed comments derogatory of authorship skeptics Mark Rylance and Sir Derek Jacoby. Suzman said in an article titled "Much ado over whether Shakespeare wrote his plays" in Sunday's Daily Mail:
'And you have to be a snob if you just hate it that the greatest poet the world has produced was born into the humble aldermanic classes of a provincial town.'
She added: 'How strange it is that Jacobi and Rylance, hundreds of years later, with their outstanding acting instincts, should embrace such a haughty view of the man who has made them as big as they are.
'We have seen a dozen times how thrillingly they themselves can conjure up fantastical character studies of fictional persons – without ever having been crowned king or murdered a rival in real life.
It's what actors do for heaven's sakes, and Shakespeare was one too." 
Articles also appeared this weekend in The Guardian, "Janet Suzman mad as a snake over Rylance and Shakespeare myths"; and The Telegraph, "Derek Jacoby and Mark Rylance criticized for doubting Shakespeare wrote plays" 

All three articles elicited dozens of comments with The Telegraph topping the list at 264 as of this writing, proving Suzman was correct in assuming her defense of the Stratford Bard would gain attention. In general, the public commentary is none too erudite, providing evidence of interest in the topic by even those who haven't spent any time studying the issue. This is yet another proof that the Shakespeare authorship controversy has become a topic of general public knowledge -- this is a very good thing for those of us who find the issue worthy of study.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Barbara Crowley tribute from Dan Wright

Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre Director Daniel Wright, PhD, reported on the death of Oxfordian Barbara Crowley. LT

9:44 a.m. August 16,2012


I just learned a few minutes ago of the death of one of Oxfordianism’s great leaders, Barbara Crowley.  This astonishing woman and her late husband, John – who among other achievements, served as the Democratic mayor of Pasadena (no small accomplishment!) back in the 80s of Ronald Reagan – were pioneers in advancing the Oxfordian cause when times were tough and the derisive laughs directed at those who disparaged the notion that bookless Stratford Will was the writer, William Shakespeare, were loud and long.  We’re all going to miss her so very much, but we have the legacy of Barbara’s scholarship and dedication to the relentless advance of the case for Edward de Vere to celebrate her life for years and years to come. Barbara and John donated the Barbara and John Crowley Gallery and Exhibition Center in the SARC where, every day, hundreds and hundreds of students file past to study the art and texts on display that record something of the Authorship Question that has turned so many fine minds to the study of the question of who Shakespeare was. Her work and legacy live on….

For Barbara’s commitment to the search for the truth in a world that so often mocks and frustrates that search, we can all be grateful..  She walked a tough road so that others might follow on one less strewn with obstacles.  She often said, in her declining years, that she wanted to live long enough to see Anonymous break forth into the public view, and the triumph of seeing that dream of hers unfold here in Portland, at that film’s world premiere, with Barbara in attendance, is a memory I shall always cherish.  Lift a glass tonight in commemoration of a grand woman, an incomparable woman, a lady of refinement, grace, sunny cheerfulness and inspirational zeal!


Prof Daniel Wright, Ph.D.
Director, The Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre
Concordia University
Portland, OR 97211-6099

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

England's NT Live will broadcast Timon and Othello in theaters worldwide

The National Theatre Live project will include broadcasts of Timon of Athens with Simon Russell Beale (Nov. 1, 2012) -- and, according to the University Musical Society brochure, but not confirmed on the NT site, Othello -- as part of its fourth season of theatrical events originating at the Royal National Theatre in London and made available in movie theaters around the world. The broadcasts will be shown locally under the auspices of the University Musical Society at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor.

The National Theater site makes the following statement re Timon and Shakespeare, the collaborator. This commentary continues an unfortunate tradition of Shakespearean program notes that state supposition or theory as fact.
Simon Russell Beale takes the title role in Timon of Athens, Shakespeare's strange fable of conspicuous consumption, debt and ruin, written in collaboration with Thomas Middleton, directed by Nicholas Hytner
UMS will also present Kidd Pivot's The Tempest Replica Sept 21 and 22, 2012 at 8 p.m. in the Power Center in Ann Arbor. THe UMS brochure says:
Integrating movement, original music, text and rich visual design, Kidd Pivot's performance work is assembled with recklessness and rigor, balancing sharp exactitude with irrecverence and risk.. . . The Tempest Replica is based on motifs from shakespeare's play. Artistic director Crystal Pite stages a game of revenge and forgiveness, reality and imagination.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

English History Plays in Stratford

by Susan Grimes Width
What an intense Friday the 13th! Linda Theil, Richard Joyrich and I travelled to Canada via the Blue Water Bridge . After a lunch with Michael & Lynne Kositsky we saw a wonderful performance of Cymbeline in the Tom Patterson Theatre. Cara Ricketts as Imogen, the daughter of Cymbeline, was fantastic in both her beautiful gown and dressed as a young man.  Graham Abbey as Posthumos, so named because he was delivered at his mother's death, was great as a loving husband torn away by his father-in-law's disapproval, a cuckold husband - oh ye of little faith, and as a bare-chested soldier. The fighting between Cybeline's faithful and the Roman Soldiers seemed to take place right in our laps. The play was staged wonderfully, only my cheeks complained at the length!

After a quick dinner and too-short rest, we attended the Festival Theatre for Henry V. Wow! The stage was massive and cold and the huge English and French flags were switched as backdrops so frequently it was dizzying. Thank goodness for the copy of Peter Saccio's Shakespeare's English Kings, copyright 1977 Oxford University Press. I could never have kept up with all the characters if I hadn't read the historical information in this book ahead of time. The light moment was Bethany Jillard, as Catherine, King Charles VI's daughter. As she sat naked in her bath, her lady-in-waiting taught her the English word for parts of the body. Catherine's commentary in French certainly distinguished the French speakers in the audience by their laughter. The entire audience held their breath as she rose nude from the tub behind the sheets held by the maids! The strategy and battles between the French and English were no laughing matter. Death was well-represented on the stage. Another great Stratford production.

Order FREE digital Oberon yearbooks from Blurb

For all you info-junkies out there, we have recently taken advantage of Blurb’s new digital book editor and have converted our three existing Oberon Shakespeare Study Group yearbooks to ebook and iBooks format. Yearbook content includes news, reviews, and commentary on the Shakespeare authorship question as published on the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group web-log at

The ebook and iBooks editions of the Oberon yearbooks are available free of charge as downloads from the Blurb catalog. Here are the catalog page URLs for each of the yearbooks:
Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Yearbook 2007-08
Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Yearbook 2009
Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Yearbook 2010

On the order page for each yearbook, you will also see an option to order a print copy of each book. These yearbooks were originally published on demand through Blurb as a means of creating hard copy editions of the posts on the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group web-log for each year since the blog was created in July 2007. The cost of the print editions does not include a mark-up for Oberon, and represents only the cost that Blurb requires to print the book.

The first yearbook edition covers July-Dec. 2007 and all of 2008. The second edition covers all material posted in 2009 and the third edition covers 2010. We are currently editing the 2011 yearbook; when we publish the on-demand print edition of the 2011 yearbook, we will also offer a free ebook and iBooks edition.

You may sample each ebook/iBooks before downloading from the catalog page. You may also read the entire book on the Blurb website by clicking the BOOK PREVIEW badge for each book in the sidebar of the Oberon blog. You can reach me at linda dot theil at gmail dot com if you have any comments or questions.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Water Works opens Shakespeare in the Park August 2, 2012

Water Works Theatre will open their 2012 season of Shakespeare in the Park at Royal Oak on August 2. All performances are held at the Starr Jaycee Park in Royal Oak, Michigan.

Henry V directed by Sara Catheryn Wolf and featuring Michael Brian Ogden in the eponymous lead will run Aug. 2-12: Thurs., Fri., Sat. at 8 p.m. and Sun. at 5 p.m. Tickets are $20, good for any performance; and are available online at and at the gate.

Midsummer Night's Dream directed by Barton Bund will run Aug. 4, 5, 11 and 12 at 1:00 p.m.; and August 7 and 8 at 7:00 p.m. Tickets are $6, good for any performance; and are available online at and at the gate.

Summer Sonnets, an original production written by local playwright Audra Lord and directed by JM Ethridge will be presented free on August 4, 5, 11, and 12 at 3 p.m. The performance is " . . . a magical hour in the park with the Bard's legendary poetry set to a modern tale . . ." according to the company website.

Oberons have attended many Water Works productions in the past and we have never been disappointed -- highly recommended!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

UK professor says Shakespeare biographies are bunk

University of Kent at Canterbury emeritus professor David Ellis’ new book, The Truth About William Shakespeare: Fact, Fiction and Modern Biographies (Edinburgh University, 2012), has been released in the US and received a starred review by Margaret Heilbrun in the May 2012 edition of Library Journal. The short review under the title “New Titles onShakespeare” offers this insight:

In this meaty little book, Ellis takes on the spate of biographies of Shakespeare in recent decades. With incisive scholarship and wit, he demonstrates that most have been written in the absence of credible evidence: authors infer details of Shakespeare’s life and beliefs from information about the times, unverifiable anecdotes and jokes, sometimes even the sheer lack of evidence (e.g., Shakespeare must have been “discrete” and “concealing” because his name seldom appeared in the public records). . . . Non-academics and academics alike should pick this it up; it’s a sleeper and strongly recommended. (Given the price of the hardcover, consider waiting for the paper edition—ISBN 9780748646678 $32.50—due out in January 2013).

The publisher's publicity on says:

How can biographies of Shakespeare continue to appear when so little is known about him? And when what is known has been in the public domain for so long? Why have the majority of the biographies published in the last decade been written by distinguished Shakespeareans who ought to know better? To solve this puzzle, David Ellis looks at the methods that Shakespeare's biographers have used to hide their lack of knowledge. At the same time, by exploring efforts to write a life of Shakespeare along traditional lines, it asks what kind of animal 'biography' really is and how it should be written.
We asked Dr. Ellis if the lack of information about the Stratford candidate might have influenced him to consider the possibility of an alternate authorship candidate. Ellis replied:
I believe there is enough information available about Shakespeare to support the idea that he wrote most of the plays usually attributed to him but not enough to justify the huge pile of biographies which have appeared over the last fifteen years.  Many of these incorporate fiction without the reader being made aware that they are doing so.  The open or avowed mixing of fiction with biography has always troubled me, but that may be a matter of taste.
Ellis’ phrase, “avowed mixing of fiction with biography” could very well describe Graham Holderness’ new fiction/non-fiction Shakespeare bio Nine Lives of WilliamShakespeare (Continuum, 2011) in which he creates avowed fictional stories about Shakespeare to flesh out his book in which he claims to “. . . address all the questions and anxieties suppressed by the mainstream biographical tradition.”

Ellis joins James Shapiro who, in his 2010 Shakespeare bio about the authorship question, Contested Will, also excoriates authors who enhance the bald Shakespeare biography with fictional toupees -- although, strangely, Shapiro recently praised the Holderness mélange of fiction and non-fiction.

Arch-Stratfordian Holgar Syme of the University of Toronto is another academic who has warned that fictional biographical claims in support of their candidate harm the Stratfordian position. In an October 18, 2011 post titled “Enough Already” on his web-log Dispositio, Syme said, “If nothing else, a serious engagement with anti-Stratfordian claims might make us better scholars, too. . . . And we might as well admit that traditional Shakespeare scholarship has its own significant blind spots."

Four outspoken Stratfordian academics -- Ellis, Shapiro, Holderness and Syme --  have recently denounced the false nature of traditional Shakespearean biography. Ellis said no new information on Shakespeare has come to light in the last 100 years, and Samuel Schoenbaum’s ultimate bio of Shakespeare biography, Shakespeare’s Lives, makes it clear that the previous 200 years was filled with hearsay and fraud, and the 100 years before that was an echoing silence. Ellis calls this black hole “enough information” to support the Stratfordian attribution, but clearly it is NOT enough information, or Ellis et al, would not have the “huge pile of biographies” to complain about. If there were enough information available for a rational biography, Stratfordians would not feel compelled to make stuff up.

Ellis’ The Truth About William Shakespeare is not currently available in e-book format. The paperback edition is due out in January 2013.

Holgar Syme at

UPDATE 07/23/12
Dr. Richard Waugaman posted a review of the Ellis book on Amazon at

NOTE: Also of interest in the May 2012 edition of Library Journal is a review of Julia Thomas' Shakespeare’s Shrine: The Bard’s Birthplace and the Invention of Stratford-upon-Avon (Univ. of Pennsylvania. Jul. 2012). Margaret Heilbrun said, "In 1769, the renowned actor David Garrick organized a Shakespeare celebration in Stratford-upon-Avon. When he left the town, Garrick cursed Stratford as 'the most dirty, unseemly, ill-paved wretched looking place in all Britain.' Yet less than 70 years later the house where Shakespeare was born and raised came up for auction and its preservation became a national crusade, though not every class embraced the cause equally. . . .Thomas asks what change in values had occurred that made Victorians see Shakespeare’s birthplace as pivotal to an appreciation of him."

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Propeller brings Twelfth Night and Shrew to Ann Arbor Feb. 20-24, 2013

Propeller's Taming of the Shrew Photo Credit Philip Tull

England's all-male Shakespeare repertory company, Propeller, brings Twelfth Night and Taming of the Shrew to the Power Center in Ann Arbor February 20-24, 2013. For information and tickets see the UMS web pages at and or check out the company's web pages at

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Orloff, Jimenez, and Warren to receive SARC honors

The Richard Paul and Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre Director Daniel Wright, PhD of Concordia University in Portland, Oregon announced yesterday that Anonymous screenwriter John Orloff will be awarded the university's Vero Nihil Verius Award for Distinguished Achievements in the Shakespearean Arts. Wright also said that Oxfordian scholar Ramon Jimenez and James Warren -- author of Index to Oxfordian Newsletter and Journal Articles -- will both receive the university's Vero Nihil Verius Distinguished Shakespearean Scholarship Award. These honors will be given at the seventeenth annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Conference to be held April 11-13, 2013 at Concordia Universtiy where Orloff will participate in discussions of his work. For more information check the Richard Paul and Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre website at Participants may register online at Deadline for conference papers is October 31, 2012.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Fratellanza wows Oberons

Paul Manganello and Jim Manganello: Fratellanza

The Fratellanza collaborative of Jim Manganello and his brother Paul Manganello visited Oberon last night to talk about The Mute Quire, their new play running currently at Mix Studio Theater in Ypsilanti. Their energy and dedication to the art of theater thrilled us.

"They made me feel young again -- as if anything were possible." Joy T. said.

The Mute Quire is about the production of The First Folio and features, according to co-writer Jim Manganello, an antagonism between printer William Jaggard and actor John Hemminge about whether the play As You Like It should be included in the folio. Actors John Hemminge and Henry Condell signed a foreword in The First Folio testifying to the worthiness of the content and the co-signatories are often termed "editors" of the book by traditional Stratfordians. Most anti-Strats consider Ben Jonson the one and only editor of The First Folio, as Oberon chair Richard Joyrich pointed out during the discussion last night. 

While the viewpoint of The Mute Quire story may be traditional, the viewpoint of Fratellanza is emphatically iconoclastic.

"This piece is not completely exempt from the authorship question in that we're exploring the creation of the plays and not the writing of the plays,"Jim Manganello said. "Another orthodoxy I'm interested in debunking is the First Folio technique." 

Manganello said this acting technique assigns strict instructions to every aspect of the play, with slavish adherence to every word and punctuation mark in The First Folio.

"This kind of God-given, pristine text is so counter-theatrical," Manganello said. "You need to find what's important to today's audience and bring that out."

Paul Manganello agreed. Both brothers have trained in an alternative acting method that owes more to circus than to academe. Jim studied with Paola Coletto in Chicago and Paul studied with Malcolm Tulip at the University of Michigan. Both teachers studied at the Ecole International de Theatre Jaques Lecoq in Paris. Jim said the school is focused on using the body as the engine of performance and on creating work from the ground up.

"Who knows what was going on when the plays were being staged for the first time," Paul said. "They (the First Folio technique proponents) are interested in the fluidity of the work; one thing we’re interested in is toying with that fluidity and making bold, sometimes reckless, choices."

Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD, approved of the Fratellanza viewpoint.

"There is a disconnect between the plays as performance and the plays as literature," Joyrich said. "I think you need to know something about the author and the circumstances. I like your approach of trying to figure
this out."

We have invited the Manganellos to talk more about their work as guest correspondents to the Oberon web log which they have agreed to do, and we look forward to their discussion. They hope to perform The Mute Quire at Shakespeare festivals and anticipate an evolutionary approach to the play, as they believe Shakespeare's actors would have done.

Jim said, "The kind of theater I‘m most interested in is the kind where the audience walks in and within two minutes they’re soaring. Shakespeare's work almost always challenges us to do that. At every moment there’s
some thing more important than the surface. I love the plays."

Paul said, "When an Anglophone speaks Shakespeare it feels like you’re at the exact center of your human experience. It’s so joyous to put those sounds out."

The Mute Quire, was written and produced by Fratellanza for the New Theater ProjectPerformances will begin at 8 p.m. this Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday -- June 28, 29, 30, and July 1 at the Mix Studio Theater at 130 W. Michigan in Ypsilanti, MI. General admission tickets are available for $15/$10 students at Brown Paper Tickets. See video promo and more info at "Mute Choir by Fratellanza" on the Oberon web log.

See also "Alexandra Clement Jones plays Richard II" for a review of Jim Manganello's Richard II production for the University of Michigan Rude Mechanicals.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Wright announces SARC seminar August 22-26, 2012

Professor Daniel Wright, Ph.D., director of the Richard Paul and Jane Roe Shakespeare Authorship Research Centre at Concordia University in Portland OR,  announced this year's Shakespeare Authorship Studies Seminar will be held August 22-26 at the center:
The summer is upon us, and that means it's time again for the SARC's annual Shakespeare Authorship Studies Seminar! This year's seminar will begin in a couple of months - specifically, at 6:00pm on Wednesday, August 22 - and will close at noon on Sunday, August 26.  The theme for this year's 30-hour intensive study week/weekend (we meet eight hours a day on the 23rd, 24th and 25th and 3 hours on the 22nd and the 26th) is "The Motive for Shakespeare."  We'll be studying why Shakespeare became Shakespeare so late in life and we will focus, Looney-like, on the plays and poems to see what revelatory offerings they may suggest about Shakespeare's purposes.  We will focus on some of Shakespeare's original sources and look at several features of these; among other questions regarding these sources, we'll ask: (a) what does Shakespeare retain? (b) what does Shakespeare delete? (c) what does Shakespeare modify? and (d) what does Shakespeare invent? Registration is $995. You can register, right now, online, at I hope to see many of you there in August for some good fun and lively study with friends. The summer seminar, as veterans will attest, is always a grand way to close out, in the  SARC's cool and relaxing surroundings, some of the late dog days of August.
Prof Daniel Wright, Ph.D.Director, The Shakespeare Authorship Research CentreConcordia UniversityPortland, OR 97211-6099

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Mute Quire by Fratellanza

Our friend Jim Manganello who did such a fabulous job directing Richard II for The Rude Mechanicals has a new project playing at the Mix Studio Theater in Ypsilanti through July 1. The play, The Mute Quire, a comedy about the production of Shakespeare's First Folio, was written and produced by Fratellanza for the New Theater Project. Manganello's promo says:
Fratellanza is a new collaboration between Jim and Paul Manganello committed to generating live theater with physical rigor and imagination. [The play is] Written and performed by Jim and Paul Manganello with Josh Berkowitz. Two forgotten actors. A printer and his apprentice. An absurd clown and a sad one. All these characters collide in a print shop to publish the plays of the recently dead Shakespeare. Before ink meets paper, they're battling over the soul of poetry, drama, nonsense. Using verse and movement, Fratellanza transforms history into a living celebration of love.
The Mute Quire is told from a traditional point-of-view in a decidedly non-traditional manner. The Mix Studio Theater is at 130 W. Michigan in Ypsilanti, MI. Tickets are available at Brown Paper Tickets.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

A collaborative Shakespeare opens the door to authorship query

Last year's release of Roland Emmerich’s Shakespeare authorship film, Anonymous, caused spasms among arch-Stratfordians fearful that their candidate for Shakespeare authorship might not survive public scrutiny. But Stratfordians have more than popular media to worry about. Having barely survived the onslaught of publicity surrounding Emmerich’s film, anti-Strats must now contend with anti-Stratfordian theatrical presentations such as Monster Theatre's The Shakespeare Show, the release of authorship publications such as Richard Paul Roe’s Shakespeare Guide to Italy and films such as the recently released  Last Will. & Testament co-produced by Lisa Wilson and Laura Wilson Matthias. In addition, the academic mainstream supports oblique challenges to the Stratfordian attribution with new investigations into pseudonymity in Elizabethan England -- Starner and Traister's Anonymity in Early Modern England (Ashgate, 2011) -- and the authorship of the Shakespearean apocrypha -- Sabrina Feldman's The Apocryphal William Shakespeare. And, although Stratfordians seem to be supporting theories of Shakespearean collaboration – perhaps in the mistaken notion that collaboration allows their admittedly unlikely candidate some measure of plausibility – opening the door to Shakespearean collaboration only further unravels the sleeve of struck-by-god, genius authorship.

A recent flurry of publicity (e.g. and regarding  Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith’s essay, A New Shakespeare Collaboration? claiming that All's Well that Ends Well was co-written by Shakespeare and Thomas Middleton prompted anti-Stratfordian John Rollett to aggregate current candidates for Shakespearean collaboration. Rollett -- an advocate of Darby as Shakespeare in his book, Shakespeare Lost and Found: evidence for William Stanley, Sixth Earl of Derby, as the Man behind the Mask -- said on the Elizaforum news list:
It has recently been claimed by Professor Laurie Maguire that All's Well that Ends Well was co-written by Shakespeare and Middleton. Maguire says Middleton's more modern grammar is evident in the text and that there is an 'arresting' stylistic match with his other plays. For example, the word 'ruttish' - meaning lustful - appears in the play and it’s only used by Middleton at that time. The use of stage directions is also much closer to Middleton's style than to Shakespeare's. This brings to nine the number of Shakespeare's plays thought to have been co-authored, or with contributions by other authors. He is also thought to have contributed scenes to the plays of others. Here is a summary of recent claims:

  • Titus Andronicus: written with George Peele per Brian Vickers, 2002
  • Pericles: written with George Wilkins per Brian Vickers, 2002
  • Timon of Athens: written with Thomas Middleton per Brian Vickers, 2002
  • All's Well that Ends Well: written with Thomas Middleton per Laurie Maguire, 2012
  • Henry VIII: written with John Fletcher per Brian Vickers, 2002
  • The Two Noble Kinsmen: written with John Fletcher per Brian Vickers, 2002
Three other Shakespeare plays were supposedly co-authored:
  • Henry VI, pt. 1 written with Nashe per Brian Vickers, 2007
  • Henry VI, pt. 1 written with Marlowe per Craig and Kinney [Hugh Craig, Arthur Kinney editors of Shakespeare, Computers, and the Mystery of Authorship]
  • Henry VI, pt. 2 written with Marlowe per Craig and Kinney
  • Macbeth written with Middleton per Gary Taylor and others
These plays have sections supposedly written by Shakespeare:
  • Sir Thomas More: by Munday (possibly) written in Hand D per Craig and Kinney
  • Edward III: Countess scenes per Craig and Kinney
  • Spanish Tragedy: by Kyd, additions of 1602 per Craig and Kinney
  • Arden of Faversham: quarrel scene per Macdonald Jackson
Rollett added this comment for Oberon readers:
Two additional items could have been incorporated:
  • Brian Vickers has carried out convincing research (which I don't think has yet been published) that Edward III was written by Kyd, with about 40-percent including the Countess scenes written by Shakespeare.
  • Thomas Merriam has concluded that the verse in Henry V was written by Marlowe; all Shakespeare did was to write the prose parts, having come across an uncompleted play by Marlowe. Merriam published this in a pamphlet, rather than an academic journal . . .
At a rough count, Shakespeare had six co-authors, and collaborated with up to three other unknown authors.
Regardless of academic embrace of linguistic analysis of the Shakespeare plays, analysis cannot show when or how textual changes were made and are therefore useless in elucidating the play-making process. Collaboration theories do nothing to damage the anti-Stratfordian proposition and do much to allow alternate-authorship theorizing a useful place in the study of Shakespeare. Rollett said:
I take 'co-authorship' to be a fairly neutral term, which might involve two people planning in advance to write a play together, or one person writing part of a play and handing it to someone else to co-write or to complete alone, or someone years later finding a play parts of which need finishing or re-writing, and so on. 

UPDATE 08/08/12: Maguire and Smith report in their blog on July 31, 2012 on response to their All's Well Shakespeare-collaboration article -- "All's Well that Ends Well -- Laurie Maguire and Emma Smith report on the state of the debate"


Boyle announces book sale at NESOL

The New England Shakespeare Oxford Library director, Bill Boyle, announced a book sale to raise funds for the library:
Last year I had a special fundraiser sale on my library bookstore site, and it worked out pretty well, so I'm doing it again this year. Here's the URL:
There are 13 books for sale, ranging from a Star of England to a couple of Baconian texts. For each book purchased a bonus gift can be selected, either one of the library's recently published books (Jim Warren's Oxfordian Index, Hank Whittemore's Twelve Years in the Life of Shakespeare, or Charles Boyle's Another Hamlet), or a copy of the April 1999 Harper's, or a Castle Hedingham guidebook. Hope folks here can find something they like (or would like to give someone else) and can help support the New England Shakespeare Oxford Library and the Shakespeare Online Authorship Resources project.