The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1304 Monday, 8 August 2005
From: Bill Lloyd <
Date: Friday, 5 Aug 2005 19:08:54 EDT
Subject: 1Richard II
Here are some excerpts from an article I found referenced on WODSTOK
http://wodstok.edu/1r2&2r1.html, the Discussion List devoted to the
fifth play in Shakespeare's Lancastrian Tetralogy:
"The Other Prequel; The Other Woodstock:
The Valley hosts an American premiere of an early Shakespearean drama
By Mark K. Anderson: Published 07/15/99
It's hard to believe that nearly four centuries after the author's death
a work of Shakespeare would still lie unproduced, unacted and
unregarded. But in the anonymous Elizabethan historical drama Thomas of
Woodstock, Hampshire Shakespeare Company has unearthed one of the most
promising contenders for anointment with the million-dollar tag "Written
by William Shakespeare.
The arguments for Woodstock's canonization are compelling, though they
can be touched upon only briefly here. The drama also provides the
missing piece of a historical puzzle famously set out by Shakespeare.
And it proves to be a surprisingly accessible, clever, fun, tragic,
humorous and engaging text -- long overdue for the public's
consideration and entertainment, regardless of author...
...Newly rediscovered Shakespeare works have been cropping up like
wildflowers over the past few decades. Some, in the case of the
anonymous Elizabethan plays Edmund Ironside and Edward III, are slowly
being integrated into the officially sanctioned Shakespeare canon after
the publication of comprehensive attribution studies (both, in this
case, undertaken by the British scholar Eric Sams; the former in 1986,
the latter in 1996).
We can only hope that others -- such as the imitative, dry and
ineffectual poem A Funeral Elegy for William Peter (an
early-17th-century Shakespeare rip-off that, nevertheless, is included
in the current edition of the industry-standard textbook The Riverside
Shakespeare) -- are temporary lapses in the critical judgment of the
Although no definitive study advancing a Bard-authored Woodstock has yet
been done, the program's introduction to Woodstock quotes Shakespeare
scholar Ian Robinson's 1988 study of the play: "Who else but Shakespeare
writes like this?" he asks. Essayist Roger Stritmatter of UMass'
comparative literature department, who also first brought Woodstock to
Hampshire Shakespeare's attention, replies, "The question is rhetorical:
the only answer -- with exception taken for the anonymous composition --
To those familiar with Shakespeare's hallmark style, the play resounds
with language, characters, rhetoric, scenes and allusions that sound
suspiciously like our man, albeit in a youthful outpouring of his raw
talent. If you go to this Woodstock expecting Hamlet, Richard III or
even one of the comparatively unrefined Henry VI trilogy, you will be
disappointed. No question.
But if you go to the show with a curious, skeptical mind, expecting a
sampling of the Bard's juvenilia, you may walk out at the end of the
night saying, "So that's how Shakespeare started out ..."
...Some scholars now argue that Woodstock is a 19th-century forgery,
that the work indeed has many Shakespearean characteristics but is both
too immature and perhaps too Shakespearean to be believed. To that
accusation, Holcomb asks why a hypothetical forger would have created a
drama that never appears to have been staged and never even states who
the author is. History has seen several Shakespeare forgeries -- but the
forger has always derived some personal, professional or economic gain
The Hampshire Shakespeare Company is based in Amherst, Massachsetts. Ian
Robinson's pamphlet "Richard II and Woodstock" was published in 1988 by
Brynmill Press, Gringley-on-the-Hill, UK. "Things are what they mean,"
says Ian Robinson.
One thread currently running on WODSTOK is discussing the possibility
that *1Richard II* is, instead of a 19th century forgery, an actual
Elizabethan forgery, the earliest known. Some are arguing that it was
Shakespeare himself who forged it to capitalize on the popularity of his
other history plays. Another thread has taken up the suggestion that it
was actor/playwright Edmund Shakespeare, not William, who wrote
*1Richard II*. This might account for it being simultaneously so like
and so unlike his more famous brother's work.
A WODSTOK correspondent from Oxford, Mississippi points out that
facsimiles of the *1 Richard II* manuscript can be bought in bulk at his
local Sams Club.
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