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TOPIC: Was this a partnership process?

Was this a partnership process? 9 years 2 months ago #1445

  • Charles Pecadore
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Accepting Shakespeare as a front makes me wonder who acted as the playwright in the continuing involvement of the staging of a play, e.g., assisting the director, actors, stage manager, et.al., with production and presentation problems, costuming and set requirements, script explanation and alterations.

If WS carried out these responsibilities wouldn't it indicate a direct connection in the development and writing of the script? Perhaps he served as a cooperating partner in the endeavor relying on his better educated partner/patron to fill in the references and lines that would appeal to the upper classes?

Otherwise, who served as the middleman to move the script from a handwritten document to a dynamic and fully dimensioned dramatic stage presentation?

Regards, Charles
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Was this a partnership process? 9 years 2 months ago #1446

  • Howard Schumann
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Of course, we cannot answer the question with any certainty. However, Edward de Vere's is known to have had a close association with the theater, with actors, and with playwrights. It is also well known that he was the sponsor of at least two acting companies, Oxford's Men and Oxford's Boys.

He also held the lease of the Blackfriars Theatre in London and it has been suggested that he and John Lyly used the theatre to stage performances of their plays (in addition to the royal court) using both of his acting companies.
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Was this a partnership process? 9 years 2 months ago #1447

  • Charles Pecadore
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howard16 wrote:
Of course, we cannot answer the question with any certainty. However, Edward de Vere's is known to have had a close association with the theater, with actors, and with playwrights . . .
Is there any evidence that he was connected with producing or directing any of the plays in the Shakespeare Canon?

Writing a play surely is a horse of a color far different than writing a poem, sonnet, or novel. A playwright doesn't just write text, s/he must determine how speeches are delivered, how words are to be inflected, how the actors must appear, their physical movements and interrelationship with the set and other actors, the myriad of technical details for staging a production, and on and on. These are vital and compelling components that challenge every playwright - that perhaps are of equal importance to the writing.

With de Vere's close association with theater, is it possible to assume he would just hand over a script and let others make all those decisions? Probably not, and if not, is there any indication that he did involve himself in those critically important aspects of playwriting?

Regards, Charles
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Was this a partnership process? 9 years 2 months ago #1448

  • Howard Schumann
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The limits of my knowledge on the subject is contained in the following excerpt from Brazil, Robert, The True Story of the Shakespeare Publications Vol. 1: Edward de Vere & the Shakespeare Printers, New York, 2000, out-of-print, archived on the website: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Thebes/4260/book2.html]

The Evidence for Oxford Part 2
by Robert Brazil © 1999, 2000, 2007

Oxford & the Theater

Oxford's association with the theater was inherited from his family. The Earls of Oxford kept acting companies as far back as 1492. John Bale (1495-1563), was a Protestant reformer, a writer, and early English dramatist. John Bale was connected to both the 15th and 16th Earls of Oxford, and was even a familiar figure to young Edward de Vere, the future 17th Earl, born 1550.

In a 1536 account, Bale noted the titles, and the first lines, of fourteen plays which he had written on commission for John de Vere, the 15th Earl of Oxford. One of these plays is called King John! In 1561, Queen Elizabeth was entertained at Castle Hedingham by John, 16th Earl of Oxford, who supported a troupe of actors. Young Oxford was there and perhaps had his first opportunity to entertain his Queen.

Edward de Vere took the family fascination with drama a step further, by actually writing and producing plays and entertainments. As a student at Gray's Inn, he took part in its hallowed tradition of amateur theatrical productions. In Italy, Oxford learned the innovations of Renaissance drama, and brought them back to England. The idea that a character could have and describe inner conflicts and emotions was born. Oxford staged outdoor extravaganzas to amuse the Queen and Court. One time the pyrotechnics got out of control and a building caught fire.

Oxford supported, with money and lodgings, a series of dramatists who are normally considered "Shakespeare's predecessors". Anthony Munday, George Peele, John Lyly, and Robert Greene all benefited from de Vere's patronage and his themes can be seen in their early productions. When they were out of favor and employment with Oxford, their material suddenly becomes soggy and all wit disappears. The early works produced by Oxford and his University Wits contain many of the plots seen handled much more expertly in the mature Shakespeare plays.

Oxford and the Blackfriars Theater

In The Merry Wives of Windsor the Welshman Hugh Evans is a transparent representation of the Earl of Oxford's theater manager, Henry Evans, a Welshman who was the teacher and Master of the Children of Paule's troupe. In Merry Wives, Sir Hugh rehearses the children in the Fairy masque which ends the play.

The real man, Henry Evans, started out as a scrivener and theatrical hanger on. In the years 1584 - 1586 the Earl of Oxford arranged to lease a large hall in the Blackfriars building in London as a playhouse. Oxford also leased the downstairs to serve as a top flight fencing school. There is a complicated paper trail on this that still exists, and there are payments to connect Oxford as the patron, John Lyly as go-between and proprietor, and Henry Evans as theater manager.

Their troupe of young actors was created by combining the Children of Paul's with the Children of the Chapel. The combined group was often referred to as Oxford's Boys. They were not just making random entertainments; throughout the 1580's they were performing for the Queen and her Court and to private audiences.

Oxford and the Boars Head Theater

Near the end of the reign of Queen Elizabeth, the theaters were getting themselves into trouble and were frequently shut down. In March of 1602, the Earl of Oxford and the Earl of Worcester were allowed to combine their acting companies and were granted special rights to continue to perform plays. Their venue was the Boars Head Inn, which had been converted into a theater.

The Boars Head Inn, on Hogs Lane in Whitechapel, was just outside the City Limits of London. This special dispensation allowed for the dramatic activities to continue, even though they had been banned in London. The name of the theater is significant, because of the frequent mentions of a Boars Head tavern in the Shakespeare plays, and also because the Boars Head, a Blue Boar, was Oxford's family badge.
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