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Stratford Festival's communications director David Prosser considers name-calling appropriate communication

by Linda Theil

An article titled “Come not between the Oxfordian and his wrath to paraphrase Lear” appeared in the Toronto Globe & Mail on October 16, 2013 -- the day before the Toronto Shakespeare authorship conference began. This piece did not get as much attention as later articles in the local press criticizing York University and Guelph University for their roles in supporting the conference.

In the October 16 article, Stratfordian Kelly Nestruck wrote about an encounter last year between Toronto Shakespeare authorship conference organizer Don Rubin and Ontario's Stratford Festival communications director David Prosser at a day-long authorship seminar Rubin convened on April 7, 2012 wherein Prosser compared authorship inquiry with Holocaust denial.

According to Nestruck’s October 16 article, Prosser said he regretted his comment. Nestruck wrote:
In defending the traditional, fact-based narrative that a fellow named William Shakespeare wrote William Shakespeare’s plays, Prosser made what he now calls a “rhetorical mistake” – asking if there might not be equal grounds for a class questioning whether the Holocaust happened?
“I should have said something less emotionally charged – like how do we really know the Americans landed on the moon,” says Prosser.
I was astonished to discover that -- according to Prosser – he only regretted the "rhetorical mistake" of having used a emotion-laden metaphor. He didn’t regret calling those who wish to study the Shakespeare authorship a despicable name? He only wished he had used a despicable name that fewer people cared about? Is name-calling considered a legitimate rhetorical device at the Shakespeare Festival in Ontario where Prosser serves as "communications" director?

It is hard to reconcile that great institution with Prosser and his crude comprehension of appropriate public discourse. We have complained before about the Shakespeare Festival's support of bullying and we are sorry to see by this recent Nestruck article that the Festival depends on communications professionals possessed of such limited communications skills.

In addition, we suggest to writer Kelly Nestruck that calling the traditional Stratfordian attribution of Shakespeare's plays, "fact-based" does not make that statement true any more than Prosser calling anti-Strats holocaust-deniers makes his statement true. I refer Nestruck to Stratfordian David Ellis' book The Truth about William Shakespeare: Fact, Fiction, and Modern Biography (Edinburgh University, 2012) for one Stratfordian's take on Shakespeare "facts".



psi said…
Great blog entry, Linda. Highly quotable.

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