Tuesday, February 13, 2018

University of London sponsors online Shakespeare authorship course

Ed: Kevin Gilvary, PhD is the author of The Fictional Lives of Shakespeare (Routledge, 2017) and trustee of the Shakespeare Authorship Trust.

by guest correspondent Kevin Gilvary, PhD



The world's first Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on the Shakespeare Authorship Question will go live on the Coursera platform on Monday February 19, 2018. The four-week online course, which is completely free, is written and presented by Dr Ros Barber, lecturer in the English and Comparative Literature department at Goldsmiths, University of London, and Director of Research at the Shakespearean Authorship Trust.  It includes interviews with leading authorship doubters including this writer [Professor William Leahy of Brunel University] and Oscar-winning actor Sir Mark Rylance. Coursera currently has 30-million registered users and is one of the world's leading providers of free online education.

Registration is now open at https://www.coursera.org/le arn/shakespeare

The Shakespeare authorship question -- the question of whether William Shakespeare of Stratford-upon-Avon had any hand in the writing of the plays attribute to him -- has long been taboo in academia. Despite significant interest in the subject among the general public, English Literature academics tend to dismiss it as a subject not worth discussing. For this reason, the launch of a university-sponsored MOOC which explores the Shakespeare authorship question will undoubtedly be controversial.

When the University of London International (UoLIA) Learning, Teaching and Assessment Subcommittee discussed the approval report for the MOOC, the chair -- a literature professor -- gave a glowing report: saying it was ". . . engaging, really engaged critical thinking, and really added something to literary studies."

From the course description:

This MOOC explores critical thinking, and the interpretation of texts, through the Shakespeare authorship question. Using doubt about Shakespeare’s authorship as our playground, we will explore the key concept of authorship attribution, while developing skills in literary analysis, interpretation, and argument. Through forensic exploration of key texts, by both Shakespeare and other writers of the period, you will learn why Shakespeare’s authorship is questioned, and what evidence is cited on both sides of the debate. For those of you interested in exploring the works of Shakespeare from a new angle, or just wanting to hone your analytical thinking skills, this MOOC offers an introduction to a fascinating area of interest. Those of you already interested in the Shakespeare authorship question will be encouraged to question your own assumptions in fruitful ways. Whether undertaken as a standalone course, or as preparation for the University of London BA in English, this MOOC will be food for thought. 
Shakespeare aficionados and novices alike will find something of interest in this course; likewise anyone interested in logical reasoning, literary history, and the use of evidence. It is pitched at a level suitable for foundation year undergraduates. Although it is structured as a 4-week course, you can do it at your own pace.

Anyone can register for this course, at no cost, at https://www.coursera.org/le arn/shakespeare


Friday, February 2, 2018

Deepest condolence

Oberons extend deepest condolence to our dear friend Richard Joyrich on the death of his mother, Ida Joyrich, who passed away yesterday.

Ida Joyrich, 1931-2018
A remembrance of Mrs. Joyrich can be seen at: 

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb 4, at Hebrew Memorial Chapel, 26640 Greenfield Rd, Oak Park MI 48237.

Those who wish to honor the memory of Ida Joyrich, may do so by making a contribution to:
GLEANERS
P.O. Box 33321, Drawer 43 
Detroit, MI 48232-5321  
866-GLEANER (453-2637)
www.gcfb.org
or
YAD EZRA
2850 W. 11 Mile, Berkley, MI 48072
248.548.3663  
www.yadezra.org
or
A.C.L.U.
action.aclu.org
or
AMERICAN JEWISH WORLD SERVICE
45 West 36th Street
New York, NY 10018
212.792.2900
800.889.7146
212.792.2930
ajws@ajws.org

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Celebrate Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day!



by Linda Theil

Celebrate the Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day by sharing your favorite authorship book or video under the #ShakespeareAuthorshipMysteryDay on all your social media sites! 

Here is an Oberon favorite: The Truth about William Shakespeare: Fact, Fiction, and Modern Biographies (Edinburgh University Press, 2012) by David Ellis. 

Read all about The Truth . . . on the July 17, 2012 Oberon post, "UK professor says Shakespeare biographies are bunk".

Resources
Amazon, https://www.amazon.com/Truth-About-William-Shakespeare-Biographies/dp/0748646671/
Oberon, http://oberonshakespearestudygroup.blogspot.com/2012/07/uk-professor-says-shakespeare.html

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Hemingway shown Shakespeare skeptical


by Linda Theil

Ernest Hemingway may be added to the list of Shakespeare authorship skeptics thanks to Nina Green finding a Hemingway letter to Scribner editor Maxwell Perkins. Hemingway opens the letter datelined August 27, 1942 “La Finca Vigia” with praise for Alden Brooks’ Will Shakespeare and the Dyer’s Hand (Scribners, 1943) wherein Brooks proposes Sir Edward Dyer as the true author of Shakespeare’s plays. 

Hemingway said:
Dear Max: Thank you very much for sending me the galleys from Alden Brooks's Shakespeare book. I think it is very possible, as he told me last fall in Tucson, that he has really nailed the man at last. He is so enthusiastic and follows so like a bloodhound and a district attorney with a record for convictions, on the trail of poor Will that he will alienate many people, but as you say he piles up a terrific amount of evidence. Anyway, it is a marvelous job and it would be a crime for it not to be published. He is a good man too and was a fine soldier. . . .
Max Perkins had been shepherding the authorship book through the editorial process at Scribner’s, and had shared his enthusiasm for the work with Hemingway. Perkins biographer, A. Scott Berg, reported in Max Perkins: Editor of Genius (NAL 1979):
In 1942 Perkins was reading proofs of a book that did get published only because of his obstinacy. It was Alden Brooks’s Will Shakespeare and the Dyer’s Hand. For some time the book had been a mania with him. At every editorial conference Perkins brought it up and the board unanimously voted it down. “So, being a man of infinite patience,” one Scribners employee recalled, “he would introduce his suggestion at the next conference, with the same result.” What charmed Perkins about the work was that it credited Sir Edward Dyer, an editor with Shakespeare’s success. Indeed, the book had convinced Perkins that “the man Shakespeare was not the author of what we consider Shakespeare’s works.” Eventually the board gave in, to please Perkins. Max sent copies to many critics, hoping to rouse support. Nearly every one dismissed the work as mere speculation. Still Perkins retained his faith in the book and his respect for it. It made him aware, he told Hemingway, “how frightfully ignorant I am in literature, where a publishing man ought not to be.”  (pp 398-9)
Perkins’ devotion to Brooks’ heretical Shakespeare authorship work is well-known to longtime authorship researchers. In a July 26, 2016 post on Hank Whittemore’s Shakespeare Blog, Whittemore detailed the topic in a post titled “Max Perkins to Ernest Hemingway: “That Stratford Man Ain’t No Shakespeare!” 

In the article, Whittemore quotes an August 13, 1942 letter from Perkins to Hemingway published in From Editor to Author: The Letters of Maxwell E. Perkins (Scribners, 1950) by J.H. Wheelock. The entire letter is quoted in Editor to Author. . .; Whittemore focussed on the final paragraph that reads: 
I am trying to read proofs on Alden's book, and it is most interesting. It is certain, to my mind, that the man Shakespeare was not the author of what we consider Shakespeare's works.
Until last week when the question came up on Nina Green’s Phaeton email list, no Hemingway response on the topic of Shakespeare authorship was generally known; but, on October 29, 2017 Nina Green wrote on Phaeton:
I’ve received a reply to the e-mail I sent to the Hemingway Letters Project advising that Hemingway did mention Alden Brooks’s book on the authorship issue in a letter to Maxwell Perkins dated 27 August 1942. The letter is on p. 539 of Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: Selected Letters (Scribner’s, 1981).  It appears Perkins had sent Hemingway galley proofs of [Will] Shakespeare and the Dyer’s Hand, and in his letter to Perkins, Hemingway apparently says Brooks did “a marvelous job”.
I’m hoping to get hold of a copy of Carlos Baker’s book containing that letter at the university library later today, and will post more once I have it.




Hemingway refers to Alden Brooks’s book on the Shakespeare
authorship in a letter to Maxwell Perkins dated 27 August 1942.
Carlos Baker’s Hemingway: Selected Letters (Scribner’s, 1981), p. 539.

The result of Green's efforts is the August 27, 1942 Hemingway quotation posted at the top of this article and the photos shown above. Hemingway letters after 1931 are not yet available on the Hemingway Letters Project site.

Resources
Nina Green's The Oxford Authorship Site, http://www.oxford-shakespeare.com/documents.html

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Robin Browne publishes in Tyndale Society journal

Robin Browne at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
by Linda Theil

An article titled "The Bible, the Bishops and the Bard" by Oberon Shakespeare
Study Group member Robin Browne was published in The Tyndale Society Journal #48 (Spring 2017). 


Journal editor Neil Langdon Inglis commented in a footnote:
From time to time, the TSJ will publish esoterica, and in the current issue we include a striking example by Robin Browne, who discusses the Tyndale/Shakespeare connection. There are mysteries to ponder here, and pending further discoveries by sleuths and historians inside our Society and beyond, certain historical truths must remain unknowable.
We congratulate our friend, Robin Browne, on his accomplishment and his dedication to the study of Shakespeare.

Resources
Information on TSJ #48 is available at http://www.tyndale.org/tsj48/index.htm.
"The Bible, the Bishops and the Bard" is online at http://www.tyndale.org/tsj48/browne.htm.

Monday, October 23, 2017

SAM Day November 8

Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day logo
by Linda Theil

For all those Shakespeare enthusiasts who find the traditional April 23 date for Shakespeare celebrations inappropriate and unsatisfying, rejoice! We now have Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day: November 8 -- the day of the 1623 publication of The First Folio -- to rally 'round.

Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship President Tom Regnier, JD, LLM, said:
We've designed Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day to raise the visibility of the Shakespeare authorship question. SAM Day is intended to be a single day when all authorship doubters can amplify their voices while commemorating the date of the First Folio publication. 
. . . We hope the celebration of Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day will provide a platform for all groups and individuals studying the authorship question to promote their work and increase curiosity about the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays and poems.
The Shakespeare Authorship Coalition and the Shakespearean Authorship Trust, and other groups and individuals plan to celebrate SAM Day. Oberon readers may participate by any of the following means: 
  • Create doubt-provoking memes to share on your social media channels and post throughout the day 
  • Use the hashtag #shakespeareauthorshipmysteryday 
  • Send out a Shakespeare Authorship Mystery Day email to your members and network 
  • Post links to the Declaration of Reasonable Doubt about the Identity of William Shakespeare 
  • Post new articles or videos on the day
  • Post lists of resources – books, websites, and articles that you recommend -- for example: five movies about the Shakespeare authorship question.
  • Share Shakespeare quotes
  • Offer a one-day discount on books or merchandise 
  • Issue a press release 
  • Share links to classic articles about the Shakespeare authorship question
  • Encourage students to ask their English literature and history teachers about the Shakespeare authorship question
  • Point to weblogs and websites that provide more information

Celebrate SAM Day on November 8.
#shakespeareauthorshipmysteryday


Rosey and the Giant Matzo


Rosey Hunter chooses Matzo Ball Soup at Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, MI Oct. 20, 2017.

by Linda Theil

October 23, 2017

Oberons gathered at The Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, Michigan last Friday to celebrate the return of Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD, from the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship conference in Chicago. Joyrich reported that he had dinner with our dear friends and ex-pat Oberons, Tom and Joy Townsend, who traveled from their home in Seattle to the Chicago event. Joyrich also told us that Hank Whittemore had been named Oxfordian of the Year 2017 for his work on the book, 100 Reasons Shakespeare was the Earl of Oxford, and for many achievements highlighted in the SOF news blog article "Hank Whittemore: Oxfordian of the Year 2017".  The 2018 SOF conference will be held in Oakland, California.

Sharon Hunter and Richard Joyrich at Stage Deli in West Bloomfield, MI on Oct. 20, 2017

Monday, September 18, 2017

Oberons met September 9, 2017



Richard Joyrich studies menu at Beau's after September 9, 2017
Oberon Shakespeare Study Group Meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
Linda Theil
September 18 2017

Oberon Shakespeare Study Group met for the first time since spring at the Bloomfield Twp. Library. Our chair Richard Joyrich, Rosey Hunter, Sharon Hunter, Pam Verilone, Robin Browne, and I attended. Joyrich shared his impressions of the Stratford Ontario Shakespeare Festival where he spent a week play-going. He also attended the Shaw Festival and stopped by to visit Oberon friend, Lynne Kositsky, who has recently moved.

We viewed the video offerings for the Shakespeare Oxford Society's first video short contest, "Who Wrote Shakespeare?", and Joyrich shared information about the upcoming SOS conference that will be held October 12-15, 2017 in Chicago.


Sharon Hunter and Rosey Hunter at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
Robin Browne at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.
Pam Verilone and Richard Joyrich at Sept. 9, 2017 Oberon Shakespeare
 Study Group meeting at Bloomfield Twp. Library, MI.

Slings and Arrows!
Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich recommended a decade-old Canadian TV comedy series titled "Slings and Arrows" about a Shakespeare festival similar to -- but not at all really like! -- the Stratford Festival. View on YouTube, or purchase on Amazon.


Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Every Inch a Lear

David Montee, AEA, as King Lear at Interlochen Center for the Arts 2017.
Photo courtesy Interlochen Center for the Arts

A Review of King Lear at Interlochen Center for the Arts—July 8, 2017
by Richard Joyrich


I had the distinct pleasure of seeing a wonderful production of King Lear Saturday night along with Linda Theil at Interlochen Center of the Arts in northwest Michigan.

Interlochen has held an annual Shakespeare Festival for 10 years now and I am been privileged to have been able to see at least two productions there in the past, Twelfth Night in 2008 and The Taming of the Shrew in 2009. Both of these were excellent performances, but the production of King Lear this year far exceeded them.

Of course, the main reason that I enjoyed the production so much is the extraordinary talent of David Montee in the title role. I have seen King Lear at many other venues, including productions at the Stratford Festival in Stratford, Ontario with William Hutt and Colm Feore as Lear and Montee’s performance was even more enjoyable to me in many ways.

Montee knows how to inject just the right amount of humor into the role during the scenes when Lear descends into madness, while retaining the pathos and dignity of the character at all times. I was thus particularly glad to see that the director of the play, William Church, chose to leave in much of Act 4, scene 6 intact (the only scene where Lear and Gloucester have any kind of meaningful dialog together) combining the mad Lear who is only now beginning to understand humanity and the blind Gloucester who now finds that he is beginning to “see clearly” how the world really works. It is a wonderful and pivotal scene (but frequently cut short in many productions of the play) and David Montee as Lear and Jeffrey Nauman as Gloucester carry it off beautifully.

David Montee is also able to project the controlled rage of Lear when he is thwarted again and again and knows just when to allow his voice to come out in a roar. In short, Montee’s performance is perfectly nuanced and appropriate to all situations Lear is exposed to in the play.

Linda and I were able to meet David for coffee the next day and we discussed (among other things) his portrayal of Lear. He confided that he had based his performance on that of Peter Ustinov in a memorable production in 1980 at the Stratford Festival in Ontario. Ustinov and his understudy Maurice Good published a rehearsal journal of this production in 1982, titled Every Inch a Lear (based of course on Lear’s famous line in Act 4, scene 6, “Aye, every inch a king”). Appropriately, I have also used this title for my blog entry.

Other actors in the cast had very notable performances as well. I single out Skylar Okerstrom-Lang as a very energetic and realistic Edgar, particularly in his assumed role of Poor Tom and the way he plays off the other characters he encounters.

I also enjoyed the performance of Jeremy Gill as the Fool. He and David Montee had wonderful scenes together and I very much like the way he just walked off stage, whistling, in the opposite direction of everyone else as some kind of explanation (I suppose from the director) of the Fool’s sudden and unexplained disappearance in the middle of the play after giving the enigmatic line, “And I’ll go to bed at noon”.

This production of Lear (as in the case of the last five years of the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival) took place in the beautiful outdoor Upton-Morley Pavilion. Performing outdoors of course always carries the risks of inclement weather and extraneous noise, but in the idyllic Camelot-like setting of Interlochen this is not at all a problem. David told us that, in the five years of performing outdoors in this pavilion there was only ever one instance of rain, and that was only a sort of light drizzle.

An outdoor setting for this current performance was ideal and really allowed the audience to “enter the world of the play.” Okerstrom-Lang, as Edgar, took every opportunity to enhance his portrayal of Edgar as Poor Tom by rubbing real dirt from the edges of the pavilion onto his body and picking up sharp looking rocks and twigs to mutilate himself (thankfully this last was only play-acting) and many other actors took advantage of the setting to effect dramatic entrances and exits.

In addition, there is nothing like being outdoors to feel a part of the famous storm scene. Through the amazing performances of the actors on stage and appropriate use of lighting and sound effects, it was possible to almost actually feel the [nonexistent] rain while watching the play.

In all, this was an incredible experience at Interlochen for both Linda and myself and a wonderful way of celebrating David Montee’s retirement after 21 years of being the Director of the Theatre Arts Division at Interlochen Arts Academy.

But, Montee was quick to point out to us that he is not finished with acting and will certainly be back for future productions at the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival or other venues, “if they ask me."


I have no doubt at all, David, that they will.

Montee is the best Lear ever


Oberon chair Richard Joyrich, MD and David Montee, PhD, AEA rejoice after Montee's superb performance as Lear
July 8, 2017 at Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen MI. Photo: Linda Theil
by Linda Theil

Oberons returned to Interlochen, MI this weekend to cheer our friend David Montee, PhD in his final performance as Lear at the Interlochen Center for the Arts. Montee -- a Shakespearean actor of extraordinary merit -- retired this term after 30 years teaching at Interlochen Arts Academy.

Oberon Chair Richard Joyrich, MD and I attended the Interlochen Shakespeare Festival production of Lear on July 8, 2017 in the outdoor Upton-Morley Pavilion on the Interlochen campus.


Lear set, Upton-Morley Pavilion, Interlochen Center for the Arts, Interlochen MI, 2017
During the Lear ovation, Joyrich said, "The best I've ever seen." This is high praise from an enthusiast who knows the canon exquisitely. Joyrich shares his enthusiasm for Montee's performance with our readers here at "Every Inch a Lear".


David Montee as Lear and Jeremy Gill as Fool, July 8, 2017, Interlochen Center for the Arts,
 Intelochen MI. Photo: courtesy Interlochen Center for the Arts


Also included in the cast were Peter Carroll as France, and Jeremy Gill as Fool -- both of whom Oberons saw in the Interlochen production of Cardenio at the Interlochen "Shakespeare Authorship Symposium" in April. During Sunday morning coffee at Bud's, Montee told us that Jeremy Gill's parents: Michael Gill and Jayne Atkinson of HBO's House of Cards were in the audience on Saturday to support their son. 

During a wide-ranging discussion of the plays on Bud's roomy porch, Montee recommended M.M. Mahood's Playing Bit Parts in Shakespeare for its insight into the depth of Shakespeare's characterization. Oberons would add, in that vein, Montee's own outstanding text on acting: Translating Shakespeare: a Guide for Young Actors (Smith & Kraus, 2014).

Oberons thank you, David Montee, for your work and your art.


Daylilies from the gardens at Hofbrau House where Oberons had dinner on July 8, 2017.