Proudly Oxfordian, Looking Ahead to SHREW While Wrapping Up AMBERSONS

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on April 1, 2016

“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players,” so says William Shakespeare in As You Like It, one of the 27 or so plays attributed to the Bard of Stratford-on-Avon, whom we honor in this 400th anniversary of his death.

For the last 31 years, the Roxy Regional Theatre has been the only theatre in Tennessee to have consistently produced Shakespeare since 1986. A few theatres tout they do, but in their list count The Compleat Wrks of Wllm Shkspr (Abridged) or one of the many musicals based on Shakespeare: Kiss Me, Kate, The Boys from Syracuse, Your Own Thing, etc.

Although the Stratford man supposedly wrote these plays, it cannot be, for Shakespeare never taught his children to read or write. He does not mention the plays in his will, nor did he travel outside England to any of the places he depicts so accurately in his works.

Twain, Freud, Chaplin and Orson Welles are on a list of unbelievers — it is a long and diverse list. The author Henry James wrote, “I am … haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world.”

Some of my most adamant opponents are educators — and that’s with Shakespeare’s not having finished grade school. So I am proudly an Oxfordian, believing Edward de Vere wrote these plays. There are numerous websites and a film — Anonymous — check it out.

I love Stratford. Touring the sites as the docent intones, “This is the kind of desk … this is the kind of table … this is the kind of chair Shakespeare might have used,” I always want to say, “if he had a desk, a table and a chair” — but I am silent. Yet the productions are exquisite.

After years of trying to emulate Shakespearean garb, which only puts the plays further away, I have been presenting the Bard’s plays in modern dress. Shakespeare was performed in clothing of his day, so you could say it was in modern dress.

Jay Doolittle has returned for his 16th year and his 61st production at the Roxy — not performances, but 61 productions. He finishes his run of Major Amberson this week and takes on his 9th Shakespearean role, Baptista, in The Taming of the Shrew, opening for our pay-what-you-can preview next Wednesday, April 6, at 7:00pm. Additional performances are Thursday, April 7, at 7:00pm; Friday, April 8, at 8:00pm; and Saturday, April 9, at 2:00pm and 8:00pm.

I am proud of this company of players in repertory with William Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew and Booth Tarkington’s The Magnificent Ambersons — Michael C. Brown, Jay Doolittle, Leslie Greene, Michael Klug, Margaret Eilertson, Jackie Ostick, Emily Rourke, Zak Schneider, Scott Watson and Jonathan Whitney. Three final performances remain of The Magnificent Ambersons — tonight (Friday) at 8:00pm and Saturday at 2:00pm and 8:00pm. Please don’t miss it.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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