Did Shakespeare write Shakespeare?

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The actor as William Shakespeare

The old controversy was brought to life in a two-part dramatic entertainment by Nicholas Collett in the Mermaid’s Tudor Room last Sunday, September 24. In the first half, a befuddled professor gave reasons why the Bard could not have been the true author: lack of evidential paper trail, illiterate parents, sheer improbability of a butcher’s son from rural Warwickshire and so on.

Much to be preferred were the claims of other eminent Elizabethans such as Sir Francis Bacon, Christopher Marlowe, the Earl of Southampton or even Queen Elizabeth herself.

Then in the second half on came Will, the man himself dressed in Tudor garb, giving his life story boisterously, gaining audience participation. He portrayed the stage-struck lad, the meetings with touring actors and the opportunity to learn his craft during those “lost years” from his leaving school aged 15 to the first dated play (Henry IV Part I) in 1592.

He told of the jobbing actor’s life, on tour, responding to fashion, seizing opportunities for enrichment, and reaching the summit of his career. From knockabout stuff to more serious reflections, Nicholas Collett recited poems and soliloquies, which never fail to stir the emotions of any audience, this one included.

Nicholas Collett, actor, producer and writer, lives in East Sussex. He has appeared at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Photo: Kenneth Bird

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