Shakespeare the Great Bard or just a successful businessman actor who fronted for someone else? Francis Bacon or the Earl of Essex De Veer or did Christopher Marlowe faked his death…fun coffee shop over pie talk eh?
My first exposure to Shakespear was in childhood because my Dad loves poetry and literature. I was able to read before I went to school but that was where I learned to write – literally hand writing printing in the first grades (sans-serif) and long handed writing (serifs) – spelling and grammar, eventually writing our own short stories towards the High School learning how to write reports.
Which, if you work in an office, they also need to be teaching charts and graphs by now, reports no longer being a typewritten document, but also ledger work: spreadsheets and databases turning raw data into pie, bar graphic charts.
Reporting is really not just repeating back in your own words something you read but cannot copy exactly because plagiarism, eh. Something that wasn’t a concept in Shakespeare’s day, and early writers, more often than now, merely wrote down the oral stories floating around and augmenting them. Copyright is a modern idea that arose from the printing press and mass publications, it favors the distributor, not the content provider.
Shakespeare’s plays were romantic comedies of manner (social commentary), historic period prices (political commentary) and tragedies epic stories of Dynastic Turning Points in History that were tragic-sad for the royals and hellafunny for the masses to allow a social pressure valve of social anxiety and relief, that there’s nobility in poverty because royalty is decadent, eh?
So the motivation was certainly there for the high ranking social potential writers to not write under their own name.
Much is often made of Shakespeare’s lack of post secondary education and lack of known travel for the Italian located stories – but he does disappear in the records for 8 years as a young man and he could well have travelled and certainly did travel with actors, so drawing on the other people’s experiences, the the other plays and oral traditions, I don’t think it’s that incredulous to think he didn’t do the writing and crafting of the productions – after all, he partly owned the theatre.
In Canadian public education, we don’t read in class or for all, all of shakespeare it’s some plays and some sonnets, but in late high school, I bought a complete works book, it is not the way the plays were meant to be experienced, but it’s the way we do now, and seeing a movie version is not meaningfully different than a play, other than the impressive feat of memory that live theatre offers.
Anyway, back in high school acting classes, we did scene work in class and I was paired with another girl to do a Romeo and Juliet scene – between Juliet and The Nurse.
I was just under 5 foot 7, and 180 pounds, overweight and my acting partner was a 5 foot 2 slender gal.
Before I could say anything, she said “I’m not putting effort into this class exercise, I’m auditioning to get into Douglas College, so you be Juliet, she’s got all the lines.”
So, on one level, this is a pretty girl not doing the work for the same grade, but it was an interesting opportunity for me, because I had expected her to grab that part.
The teacher however, was horrible and actually told me she couldn’t sleep thinking of me being Juliet because of her image of her as a small pretty thing.
So I explained to her that back in that day, fat was a status symbol of wealth and fertility.
The teacher caved and stopped whining about it and her hostility really angered me; previously in this same class, I was cast in a Philadelphia Story Scene where Katherine Hepburn kissed Jimmy Stewart – I had hesitated to play the Romantic Role and especially with a boy that I deemed a stupid jock and he was equally unhappy to be in the scene with me.
Anyway, I had gotten us out of that by having the lights go out so the kiss occured in the dark and the teacher was mad but impressed and was all “I told you so” to me about playing that role.
So I threw her own words back in her face over the Juliet thing – because really – what a horrid thing for an adult to do to a teenaged girl – especially when this was an in class no audience thing.
“An actor can do any role”
This teacher also fancied herself a shakespear expert.
So, the day of the Juliet and Nurse came and not only had this girl picked the role with the fewest lines, she didn’t bother to learn the few she had.
So, I had to, on the spot, in iambic pentameter, ad-lib Shakespeare to cue my fellow actor for her lines
the teacher and the class was totally oblivious, so little do people really understand what they hearing
but most of the girls in the class were reduced to tears and even the teacher’s face glistened
and it was just the smallest gesture that sold the whole performance
putting my fingers up to my throat
a gesture women do naturally when threatened
honestly, I wish I had realized back in high school, to say, in Shakespeare day, Juliet was a man.
Authors that I have met
book reading event Linda G. Niemann
Science Fiction convention Dave Duncan
Jean M Auel, Earth’s Children better known as the clan of the cave bear
self published poetry by
Gary Wagner, a high school acting teacher, the Ryder Lake Trapper a recluse who was living without electricity and David Milgaard, the Canadian Prison Rights Icon.
Canadian Cartoonist Lynn Johnstone of For Better or For Worse on a book tour
Of Elvis’ Memphis Mafia, over email with Marty Lacker and in person with Joe Espositio and Jerry Schilling
written by a gal-pal of mine:
These are 2 books about my family saga: