Thursday, August 29, 2013

A further update on the Toronto Conference

Posted by Richard Joyrich

I have more information now about the upcoming Toronto Conference to be held October 17-20, 2013. I urge everyone to register as soon as possible. 

Tickets to see The Merchant of Venice at the Stratford Festival on Friday are only guaranteed if your registration is received by September 15 (but MIGHT still be available later).

Also, the Metropolitan Hotel, where the conference is being held will only honor the discounted conference room rate of $135/night (plus taxes and fees) until September 17.

Please go to either the Shakespeare Oxford Society website ( or the Shakespeare Fellowship website ( for other information and to register for the Conference.

Here is the current Conference schedule (subject to change):

               Toronto Conference Schedule
                   The following program is subject to change.         
Thursday, 17 October   
    12:00-1:00   Registration
    1:00-1:15     Welcome. Opening of Conference.
    1:15-2:00      Shelly Maycock.  (Virginia)
                         “Essex, Oxford and the Concept of Popularity in Late Elizabethan
                         Discourse.”  How the notion of popularity can be recast from an 
                         Oxfordian perspective.
    2:00-2:45      Priscilla Costello.  (Ontario)
                         “Astrology Confirms de Vere.”   A professional astrologer compares the
                          astrological charts of de Vere and “Shakespeare.”
    2:45-3:30     Ron Halstead.  (Michigan)
                         “Death of a Dictator: The Dangerous Timeliness of Julius Caesar and
                          the Authorship Question.”  De Vere’s interest in rebellion.
    3:30-3:50    Coffee break
    3:50-4:35  Walter Hurst.  (North Carolina)
                           “What’s Your Authority for that Statement: An Approach to
                             Examining External Evidence in Early Modern Authorship.”
                             How to evaluate the strength of historical evidence.
    4:35-6:00         Video: The Naked Shakespeare
                           A new video on the authorship question from Germany.

Friday, 18 October 
     8:30-9:15       Ron Hess.  (Georgia)
                            “The Significant History of The Passionate Pilgrim.” Did this work
                              predate both Venus and Adonis and Rape of Lucrece?
     9:15-10:0        Heward Wilkinson.  (UK)
                            “Coleridge and the Implications of Authorial Self-Awareness in
                              Shakespeare.”   There is no sign that the Stratford man embodied
                              the consciousness of “Shakespeare” while there is substantial testimony
                              that Oxford did.
    10:45-10:45     Michael Egan. (New Mexico)
                            “The Shakespeare Grain Dealer Uproar.”  The documented facts about
                             Shakspere’s financial arrangements, when compared with the plays, show
                             clearly that we are dealing with two distinct individuals, the man from
                             Stratford and the man who wrote the plays.
    10:45 –11:05   Coffee Break
    11:05-11:50     Tom Regnier. (Florida)
                              “Could Ben Jonson Think Like A Lawyer? Taking a Closer
                               Look at Clarkson and Warren.”   A revaluation of the 1942 study on
                               property law in Elizabethan drama which disparages Shakespeare’s
                               legal knowledge.
    11:50-12:35      Earl Showerman. (Oregon)
                              “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: Shakespeare’s Aristophanic Comedy.”
                               Was Shakespeare acquainted with Athenian drama?  The former
                               President of the SF explores the territory.
                                Lunch on own
     3:00               Bus leaves for the Stratford Festival
                                (Tom Regnier paper on “The Law and Merchant” on bus)
     5:00               Arrive at Stratford.  Meeting with Antoni Cimolino (Director
                                of Merchant)  followed by “on own’ dinner                
      8:00               Merchant of Venice on Festival Stage                      
     10:30             Bus returns to Toronto (arrives about 12:30 a.m.)

Saturday, 19 October
            8:30-9:30      Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Oxford Society
9:30-10:15     Cheryl Eagan-Donovan. (Massachusetts)
                         “The Reason for the Alias: Oxford’s Bisexuality and the
                           Elizabethan Theatre.”  A look at the sexual behavior of both
                           actors and audiences of the period suggests that Oxford’s
                           Sexuality may have been a prime reason for the pseudonym.
            10:15-11:00    Hank Whittemore. (New York)
                                    “The Unbroken Line: Oxford, Acting Companies and the
                                    Phenomenon of Shakespeare.”  A look at de Vere as guiding
                                    force behind the three most important acting companies
                                    of Elizabeth’s reign.
11:00-11:15    The Missing Debate: A Comment. Don Rubin and Keir Cutler.
11:15-12:00      Roger Stritmatter (Maryland) and Lynne Kositsky (Ontario)
                         ‘Much Ado About Nothing: The Tempest Debate.” Two major
                         scholars put the Tempest dating debate to rest.    
            12:00-12:15       The Tempest Book launch/signing (Roger and Lynne)
12:15-1:45      Lunch (buffet with Keynote)
                        Mark Anderson (Massachusetts)
                        “Shakespeare, Newton and Einstein: Listening to the Obsession
                        of Genius.”  The author of the major de Vere biography, Shakespeare
                        By Another Name looks at the nature of genius and obsession.
 2:00-2:45        Robert Detobel/Henno Wember  (Germany)
                        “The Outcast State: Oxford’s Passion for the Theatre.”  Was it
                        his love of the theatre that led to Oxford’s “outcast state?”
 2:45 to 3:30    Keir Cutler (Quebec)
                         ‘From Crackpot to Mainstream: The Evolution of the Authorship
                        Question.”  Are the doubts about the man from Stratford becoming
                        mainstream? An actor suggests that the answer is “yes.”
3:30 to 4:15      Sky Gilbert (Ontario)
                         “Was Shakespeare A Euphuist?”  The connections between Shakespeare
                           and Lyly, between Endymion and Twelfth Night done with student actors. 
4:15 to 4:35      Coffee break
4:35 to 6:35    Canadian Premiere Screening: Last Will and Testament
Introduction of this full-length film by the directors – Lisa and Laura     Wilson.                                          

 Sunday, 20 October
 8:30-9:30         Annual Meeting of the Shakespeare Fellowship
 9:30-10:20       Ramon Jimenez (California)
                          ‘Shakespeare’s Two Lear Plays: How the Playwright Transformed His
                          First Romance into his Last Tragedy.”  From King Leir to King Lear.
10:20-11:20       Michael Morse. (Tennessee)
                           “What the Thunder Said and Tom O’Bedlam’s Song.”  Views of Lear.
11:20-12:15        Gerit Quealey. (New York)
                            “Studying Authorship: Why It Matters for Actors. The Road
                              To Revelation.”  How authorship research can inform and illuminate
                               A Text.” A working actor demonstrates her points with student actors.
12:15-2:00         Closing Banquet with Keynote.  Awards and Final words.
    John  Shahan (California).
    “The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition: Future Strategies.” The
    head of SAC and one of the editors of the volume Shakespeare Beyond
     Doubt:  Exposing An Industry in Denial discusses plans for the coming

The conference should be one of the best that we have had. I hope to see a lot of people there.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Stanley and Paul visit Ontario

We happy few prior to Wells' event Aug. 16, 2013 in Stratford, Ontario: George and Sharon Hunter, Tom and Joy Townsend, Pam Verlone (hidden), Rosey Hunter, Richard Joyrich, Rey Perez, Linda Theil

By Linda Theil

Several members of the Oberon Shakespeare Study Group visited Stratford, Ontario this weekend to hear Shakespeare Birthplace Trust life trustee and former chairman Stanley Wells give a talk at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival on August 16, 2013.

We found Wells a masterful speaker. A fine-looking man, with a shock of white hair and emphatic white brows, tie-less in a grey suit and wearing his signature pink dress shirt with flesh-colored stockings and oxfords, he read from a superb, prepared text on “Sex and Love in Verona, Venice and Vienna”.

In the question and answer session post-presentation, therefore, it came as a shock to hear this elegant, accomplished gentleman lead the audience in jeering laughter against those, like my friends and I who question the Stratfordian authorship attribution, refer to as “anti-Shakespeareans” – a name none of us would choose for ourselves.

In monetary terms, alone – terms we surmise the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust finds compelling – our contribution to the Shakespeare enterprise -- in book-buying, ticket-buying, and travel – is enormous. This weekend’s jaunt cost over $2000 for play tickets and another $1500 for rooms and food. All of us devote extraordinary amounts of time and money to our passion for the great work of Shakespeare.

To throw this kind of this kind of devotion out the window and label it anti-Shakespearean strikes us as the height of folly. But name-calling is the resort of many Stratfordians who cannot resist venting their fury at those who question the authorship of the Stratfordian candidate.

A recent example of this type of Stratfordian strategy appears in the comments section of Wells’ review of John Shahan’s Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? Exposing an Industry in Denial where a commentator provided an assessment of those who dare to doubt the Stratford candidate’s validity as the author of Shakespeare’s works, comparing anti-Strat Oxfordians to the apartied regime in South Africa. Alasdair Brown on Aug. 13, 2013 said:
 . . . There’s the same meanness of spirit. The same depressing view of humanity. The same anti-democratic impulses. The same construction of fundamental human differences. The same smug sense of superiority. The same perception of a divinely sanctioned order of things. The same distortion of history. The same denial of human capability and potential. We’re not just talking about people who are bonkers or intellectually challenged. We are talking about people whose ideas are insidious, reactionary and dangerous. . . .
This type of spittle-filled invective is, in my experience, typical of Stratfordian discourse.

Having this tactic of ridicule repeated this weekend at the great Ontario festival -- where my friends and I have gone year after year to learn about Shakespeare’s great art -- was painful. All of us are professionals, most hold advanced degrees. In everyday life, none of us is commonly abused for inadequate intellectual capabilities.

Yet, when Wells finished his talk, and an audience-member opened the discussion with the question: “Would you comment on the perpetuation of Shakespeare deniers despite scholars like yourself who have settled the matter?” Wells replied: “Human folly goes on, despite every effort . . .” raising a derisive laugh from the audience.

Ridicule is intended to give pain. Perhaps perpetrators such as Wells consider this pain is deserved and/or instructive, but regardless of the justification, the intention is the same – hurt the bad people; make them too ashamed to continue their “folly”.

Shaming is a very effective tactic against humans. When Wells equates anti-Stratfordians with holocaust deniers as he did yesterday, as James Shapiro did previously in this same venue, and as many others have done elsewhere, I am personally repelled. If causing pain is their goal, they have succeeded; but bullying is not an argument, and if their goal is to convince me that Shaksper from Stratford is the author of Shakespeare’s work, by using this tactic they are the ones engaged in folly, not I.

I would have answered that audience member’s question differently. I would have told him that -- for me -- the question of the Shakespeare authorship is far from settled.

And why, indeed, should I be ridiculed for my position? Since when has research and study become an abomination? Since Stanley Wells says it has? Why should I bow to Professor Wells’ authority when all my life I have been taught that thinking and learning, considering, and judging for myself is my personal responsibility?

At the end of his presentation, Wells was joined by Paul Edmondson, co-author of their recent book, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt – a compendium of commentary attempting to refute questions about the Stratfordian attribution of Shakespeare’s works.

They said they wrote their book:

  • in response to questions about the authorship controversy from visitors to the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust in Stratford, England;
  • in response to Roland Emmerich's 2011 anti-Stratfordian film Anonymous;
  • and in response to university courses on Shakespeare authorship being taught at London’s Brunel University and Portland Oregon’s Concordia University – a development they clearly consider an abomination.

They opined the authorship contagion may have spread elsewhere, perhaps not aware that Don Rubin who had convened a class on Shakespeare authorship last year at Toronto’s York University was in their audience.

During the discussion, Edmondson  promoted the idea of collaborative authorship as the future of Shakespearean studies.

“Collaboration puts paid to the theory that any single nominee falls by the wayside, don’t they?” Edmondson said. “. . . Collaborative authorship studies is a new way of thinking about this discussion. There’s something significant and serious about this discussion (of collaboration).”

Edmondson clearly, by these and other comments yesterday, supports the recent and growing interest in collaboration as a viable Shakespeare authorship theory.

I personally view the recent interest in collaboration as an attempt to keep the Stratfordian candidate viable in the face of increasing critical pressure on his lack of credential in terms of knowledge and experience.

While continuing to insist on the Stratfordian candidate’s adequacy, Stratfordian supporters studying Shakespearean collaboration, nevertheless, shore up his bonifides with assist from other sixteenth- and seventeenth-century writers; similar, or so I have read recently, to a stable of writers working on a TV sitcom – a position I find pathetically anachronistic.

But this tacit admission of an authorship problem is encouraging to anti-Strats, and will no doubt lead to a gradual diminishment of the Stratfordian candidate. In Edmondson’s ungrammatical, but potent, remark that collaboration theory “puts paid” to “any single nominee” – which is presumably a blow to anti-Strat aspirations – Edmondson neglects to comprehend that destroying “any single nominee” includes the destruction of the Stratford candidate, since he is also a “single nominee”.

Edmondson also doesn’t seem to be aware that William Leahy, creator of the despised Shakespeare authorship studies program at Brunel, is himself an advocate of a collaboration theory of authorship. So we have the ludicrous image of furious contestants on both sides of the authorship battle agreeing on a theory of authorship.

Does this mean the war is won?

Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.
Stratford (Ontario) Shakespeare Festival,
Wells' review of Shahan's Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? Exposing an Industry in Denial,
Shakespeare Birthplace Trust's free booklet "Shakespeare Bites Back" reposte to authorship questions,
Proving Shakespeare webinar with Marlovian anti-Strat Ros Barber,
Shakespeare Beyond Doubt? Exposing an Industry in Denial edited by John Shahan and Alexander Waugh,
Don Rubin at York University, Toronto,
June 6, 2011 authorship debate with Wells, Edmondson, and Leahy,