Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 5, No. 0369. Wednesday, 27 April 1994.
Date: Tuesday, 26 Apr 1994 21:38:34 -0400
Subject: Shakespeare spinoff?
Does anyone recognize the following Shakespeare spinoff?
The other weekend I saw a production of "The Other Shakespeare" put on by Saint
Mary's High School in Annapolis, Maryland. The play bill did not list an
author, but had the following quote on the back page:
"Women cannot write the plays of Shakespeare. Be that as it may, I could not
help thinking, as I looked at the works of Shakespeare on the shelf, that the
bishop was right at least in this; it would have been impossible, completely
and entirely, for any woman to have written the plays of Shakespeare in the age
of Shakespeare. Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would
have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister..."
A Room of One's Own
Let me describe the production. It was a two act play, each with five scenes.
The first act takes place in Stratford, the second in London seven years later.
The lead character is Cassandra Shakespeare, the younger (by two years) sister
of William Shakespeare who is 18 years old when the play begins. Like Will,
Cassie is interested in poetry, stories, and theater, but not cooking, sewing,
or cleaning as her parents wish. Will, after getting Anne Hathaway in the
family way, is forced by his father to marry in order to uphold the family
honor. Cassie runs away to London in order to avoid the marriage match her
father is planning for her.
In London, Cassie works as a barmaid while trying and failing to break into the
theater business. One evening when the bar patrons get rowdy because
Christopher Marlowe fails to show up at a poetry reading, Cassie recites one of
her sonnets and wows the crowd. Nick Greene compliments her on her poetry.
Cassie makes one last try at a life in the theatre, disguises herself as a boy
and tries out for Richard Burbage. Burbage is impressed and wants to hire her,
but Cassie runs away when Nick Greene enters and recognizes her. Will, who had
recently begun working with Burbage, hears about Cassie, finds her, and tries
to convince her to come back and work as a team. But Cassie has been proposed
to by Percy Fields, the tavern owner, on the condition that she give up writing
and dreams of the theater. Beaten down by life, Cassie accepts his offer and
The production was a typical high school production, with mostly relatives in
the audience. But I will give high marks to the two lead players for affecting
British accents - althought I suspect that William and Cassandra would speak
with broad Warwickshire accents rather than Oxbridge accents! The idea that
Will might have been forced by his father to marry was a new one to me. I had
always assumed that Will and Anne had wanted to marry, she to get a husband, he
because she was an heiress (although who tumbled who makes for interesting
Anyway, does anyone recognize this Shakespeare spinoff? Was it written by
Virginia Woolf? Is it on our SHAKSPER spinoff list?