A YEAR HAS PAST, AND SO MUCH HAS HAPPENED.
Last year in October, the third play of my trilogy, “Shakespeare and the Heart’s Desire” No. 3 of The Lives of Shakespeare, was performed as a staged reading at The National Arts Club in New York City. The day before, it had been performed in Norwalk, Ct., at The Theatre Artists Workshop, the theater “gym” where actors try out their audition pieces, where directors direct plays that appeal to them as a challenge to stage, and where new plays are being written, rewritten, and tested on audiences for comments and reactions. This play, originally called “Bloody Treason” and focused on the attempted rebellion of the Earl of Essex against the Queen, had been revised by me to center more upon Shakespeare’s role in these events, and also upon Shakespeare’s rueful acceptance of his unrequited love for the beautiful young man of the Sonnets, the Earl of Southampton.
Someone attended this performance in Norwalk and said, “This play should be done at The Players Club in New York.” Founded by Edwin Booth in the 19th century, the Players Club has as its mission to celebrate the works of Shakespeare and to educate each new theater audience to the importance of experiencing his work. The Lives of Shakespeare attempts to explore three possible Shakespeares, what he might have been like in various circumstances of his life. And each play has at its core true historical events, fleshed out by the literary imagination. Each play is also imbued by Shakespearean themes and motifs, and is written in an accessible form of Elizabethan English.
Sponsored by The Players Foundation, at the urging of Raymond Wemmlinger, and The Shakespeare Guild, the President of the latter, John Andrews, the three plays were given three staged readings, with a Q and A after each one. Sept. 25, 26, and 27, 2018. Three plays in three days—how Elizabethan. And how the audience listened and responded. Now the hope is that word of mouth will create a demand for these plays to be done again, as full productions. There is an audience waiting. All three plays are available from The New Play Exchange.