OUR COUSIN WILL
Being the True Account of the Life of William Shakespeare, performed by Mr. William Beeston, Gent., and his Troop of Alchemical Spirits, at Posbrook Farm, Titchfield, Hampshire, in the Year of Our Lord, 1623.
Re-created by Stewart Trotter
© Stewart Trotter. 14th August, 2012
To read Episode One, click: HERE
To read Episode Two, click: HERE.
To read Episode Three, click: HERE.
The Play has been ‘workshopped’ at Titchfield and in London and is fully copyrighted.
….as kind enough to read an early draft of the play and pronounced it…..
The distinguished actor director and teacher , ANDREW JARVIS….
…took part in a recent read-through of the play in London and wrote to Stewart Trotter…
I think your play is wonderful. I thought it read absolutely beautifully – and it was a joy to be part of….
THE PERFORMING RIGHTS, WORLD-WIDE, ARE NOW AVAILABLE.
TRANSLATION RIGHTS ARE ALSO AVAILABLE
(Except for POLAND where Translation Rights have already been acquired. Stewart’s rock version of Carmen – Carmen Latina – is currently playing at the prestigious RADOM TEATR – see www.carmenlatina.com)
If your company is interested in performing the piece, please leave your contact details for Stewart Trotter at ‘Leave a Comment’ at the foot of the post. These details will not be published and will be treated in the utmost confidence.
OUR COUSIN WILL is in the form of an ‘Interlude’ – an entertainment which was popular in Elizabethan times.
Interludes told stories and were often performed in private houses. They included direct address to the audience, stand-up comedy, satire, dancing, poetry, singing, philosophy, debate and spectacle. Women would take part in the shows and entrances were often through the audience itself.
William Beeston really existed, really lived at Posbrook Farm, really practised alchemy and, the author believes, really was the model for Falstaff. The author also believes this ‘Life of Shakespeare’ to be, in essence, true. It is based on research he carried out for his 2002 book, Love’s Labour’s Found……
…… and which he has continued in his blog, The Shakespeare Code.
But the play’s the thing and, in total disregard of the absurd theory that a writer’s life has no relation to his work, it draws on much of Shakespeare own writing to make its point…
Alchemy was regarded as a Science in William Shakespeare’s day and many of the greatest ‘Scientists’ of the age – like Dr. John Dee……..
……..practised it and summoned up spirits and angels to help them in their task. Dr. Dee claimed he had produced alchemical gold and Queen Elizabeth’s Treasury even had a Department of Alchemy which attempted to produce gold coins…
But this entertainment also examines the massive hold the Roman Catholic Church held over intellectuals, writers and artists….
And continues to hold…
OUR COUSIN WILL, in this draft, is cast in its optimum form – requiring trap-door, flies and access from the stage to the audience. But it can easily be adapted to a smaller, fringe theatre form – indeed, can even be performed, with doubling, by a cast as small as 8 or 9. The rôle of Shakespeare should be played by two actors – a younger and an older. The older actor should wear a fat suit for the first and last scenes of the Interlude.
The performers are, as we shall see, Spirits who can change their shape and appearance at will….
All you need is the service of a first-rate magician…. S. T.
Our Cousin Will is based on three major sources:
1. The Sonnets of William Shakespeare.
William Wordsworth wrote that Shakespeare ‘unlocked his heart’ in the Sonnets. They are difficult and coded – but the story that tonight’s entertainment tells is mostly derived from them. Indeed, the language of the Sonnets themselves form the backbone of the show.
2. Attacks on William Shakespeare.
Shakespeare wasn’t loved by everyone – particularly rival writers. They were University Men who thought Shakespeare, a mere Grammar School boy, had over-stepped the mark. The laws of libel were draconian in Queen Elizabeth’s day, so the attacks had again to be coded. But by carefully studying the pamphlets of Robert Greene and Thomas Nashe a consistent portrait of Shakespeare’s character and life emerges.
3. History Itself.
When I wrote my book about Shakespeare in Titchfield, Love’s Labour’s Found (2002) I built up a massive data base from 1500 to 1650, listing events of each month, year and day. The events of Our Cousin Will are taken from this source.
Although Our Cousin Will is primarily an entertainment, I believe its story to be, in essence, true…
The entertainment is based on Stewart’s book, Love’s labour’s Found which Carol White turned into a brilliant T.V. documentary for Meridian.
Please click : http://www.mellingwhite.co.uk/ Then press the ‘ARTS’ button!
Melvyn Bragg (Lord Bragg of Wigton) was kind enough to say of the book:
What great ideas! Wonderfully interesting! Watch out Stratford-upon-Avon!
Stewart has since carried out further research. He gave three talks at The Grosvenor Chapel, Mayfair, London W.1. in 2009…
Martin Green, the great American Shakespeare scholar, wrote of them:
Everyone who writes about Shakespeare has the need to fill in, in some reasonable way, the great gaps in our knowledge of Shakespeare’s personal and professional life and reasonable surmises filling in the gaps are entitled to consideration so long as they are presented as surmises. But your interpretations of various passages in Shakespeare’s plays and poems struck me as being not surmises but, for the most part, extraordinarily acute insights…..I am very, very impressed.
To read these talks, which form the basis of The Shakespeare Code, please click: HERE.
To read Shakespeare: The Movie, which forms the basis of Our Cousin Will please click: HERE.
Stewart has been studying Shakespeare’s Sonnets (which form the back-bone of the entertainment) since he won an Open Exhibition to read English at Sidney Sussex College, Cambridge…
If you are interested in the linguistic structure of the Sonnets, please click: The Shakespeare Code.
Stewart was a professional Theatre Director for many years, so has a practical, working knowledge of Shakespeare’s writing….
Please see: Biography.
He also wrote, with Callum McLeod, a rock version of Bizet’s opera Carmen called Carmen Latina which has played in Vienna, Finland, Denmark, Iceland and Italy.
It is currently playing in Poland.
Please see: www.carmenlatina.com
Stewart’s theories about Shakespeare have been endorsed by people as varied as…..
If you would like to learn how Stewart got involved with Titchfield, please read: How these articles came to be written.
To read a summary of the evidence for Shakespeare’s residence in Titchfield, please click: HERE.
Or you might be interested in: Shakespeare was a schoolmaster in the country – TITCHFIELD!
And for Thomas Nashe’s involvement, both with Shakespeare and with Titchfield, please read: The Strange Case of Mr. Apis Lapis.
More information will be given on this page as this new show evolves…..