Theater Review: Hamlet, by the Royal Shakespeare Company (Newcastle)

As part of my Shaksespeare Week in September, I saw all four current Shakespeare plays that the RSC (Royal Shakespeare Company) was producing in Stratford-upon-Avon. I had previously seen As You Like It and Titus Andronicus, and enjoyed the Hamlet so much that I wanted to see it again, so I took advantage of the fact that the RSC shows some of their plays for a short time in Newcastle, about an hour and a half from York, where I live, to see it again last night.

I won’t give a full review of the play; you can read the review I wrote in September. But I will discuss some elements of the play that were different, or that seemed different.

First, I had great seats. In the front row, just to the right of center. I had booked seats in row B, and was happy to be in the second row, but it looked as though the first row of seats had been removed as the stage hung over the actual stage a bit. Here’s what I saw:

2013-10-24 18.46.47.jpg

The main difference between the Newcastle performance and the Stratford version was the stage. The Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford has a thrust stage, which juts out into the audience, and the actors play to spectators on three sides. The Newcastle Theatre Royal is a standard proscenium arch stage, so the actors were only playing to the front of the stage. This seemed to change quite a bit. There was less movement; the actors were less fluid, as they didn’t need to turn to play to all the angles. Especially for the many soliloquies; Hamlet – and Claudius, in his speech before praying – stood for the most part at the front of the stage.

I was sitting in the fifth row on the side at Stratford, and I saw As You Like It from the first row on the side as well. For other plays at Stratford, I was sitting a few rows back, more or less to the front of the stage. One thing I noticed at Stratford was that the actors didn’t make much eye contact with the audience, or, if they did, they were constantly looking at different people all around them. But here, on a standard stage, they shifted their eyes between the front row and the mezzanines. This was the case for Jonathan Slinger, who played Hamlet, but also Claudius, and some of the other actors. Hamlet’s many soliloquies felt very personal, as Slinger often looked at me, or my girlfriend, sitting next to me. In fact, he fixed his eyes on her when he said, “Frailty, thy name is woman.”

After the play, discussing it with my girlfriend, we both agreed that the actors seemed more relaxed than the first time. It could be that they’re at the end of their run, and are less stressed by the performances, or it could simply be that, over time, they’ve fully internalized their roles. While I thought that Jonathan Slinger, as Hamlet, overshadowed the other actors when I saw the play in Stratford, the rest of the cast seemed much more present at the Newcastle performance. Pippa Nixon was notably excellent as Ophelia, even more so than the first time I saw her in that role. She truly owned Ophelia last night.

Another thing I noticed – both with last night’s Hamlet, and with the other plays that I saw twice this season – is that it really pays to see a good production twice. You notice things you might not have spotted the first time, and you can better appreciate the choices made by the actors or the director. I left the theater with a much better appreciation of Jonathan Slinger, and his Hamlet, and the entire RSC company.

Unfortunately, this is the last performance I’ll see of this season’s productions, but I have another RSC date to look forward to in a week: Richard II, with David Tenant, in Stratford. This is the first RSC play that will be filmed and broadcast to cinemas in the UK and around the world, and I hope all of these plays will also be released on DVD (or sold on the iTunes Store), so I can see them again whenever I want to.

How To: Listen to High-Resolution Audio Files on a Mac

High-resolution audio files have become popular recently. These are files that offer resolution (I’ll explain that in a minute) greater than what is available on CDs. A CD contains music in what is known as the “Red Book” format, 2 channels, 16-bit linear PCM (pulse-code modulation), sampled at 44.1 kHz.

High-resolution files are available at higher bit rates and sample rates than what you can get on a standard CD. These may be 16-bit at a higher sample rate, 24-bit at the same sample rate, or, most often, 24-bit at a higher sample rate. The most common high-resolution audio files are 24-bit, 96 kHz, but sample rates up to 192 kHz exist as well.

Bit and sample rates available depend on how the music is recorded. For example, you may see files at 24-bit, 88.2 kHz; this is because 88.2 kHz offers the most mathematically pure way of downsampling audio to the 44.1 kHz required by the CD format. Some recording systems use a sample rate of 176.4 kHz – four times the sample rate of CDs – and it makes more sense to simply divide that sample rate in half than to downsample it to 96 kHz, which would introduce more artifacts.

(Note that you can also get high-resolution files on optical discs, such as DVD-audio discs or SACDs (Super Audio CDs), but I’m only discussing digital files here.)

Many Mac users listen to high-resolution files using iTunes or other software, and it’s important to note that to get the most out of these files, you need to check some settings. First, iTunes supports high-resolution files, in its Apple Lossless format. (See Why iTunes Doesn’t Support FLAC Files for a discussion of Apple Lossless and FLAC files.) While you can play them in iTunes, you may not be playing them at their full resolution, because the sound card in your Mac may not be working at the correct sample rate.

And there’s the rub. I’ve heard from many people who are delighted with their high-resolution audio files, who actually aren’t listening to them at their full bit and sample rates. And even some vendors of high-resolution files don’t even tell Mac users what they need to do. I looked at HDtracks’ Frequently Asked Questions, and they make no mention of changing the bit and sample rate on a Mac (or on a Windows PC for that matter).

So here’s what you need to do. Go to your Applications folder, then open the Utilities folder inside it. Open Audio MIDI Setup. Click on the output you’re using for your music – in most cases this will be Built-in Output, and may be Analog or Digital. [1] (You may have specific hardware connected to your Mac to play music; if so, choose that in the source list.)

Check the Format settings. If they’re set to 44100.0 HZ and 2ch16bit Integer, then you’re listening to high-resolution files at CD quality. Change these to 96000.0 Hz (regardless of whether your high-res files are 96 kHz or less) and 2ch-24bit Integer. Close the app. Your sound card will now play these files at their correct bit and sample rates. [2]


(Some people will argue that oversampling will make lower-resolution audio files sound worse; I don’t think so, but if you do, you can make the above change only when you play high-resolution files.)

So, tell me the truth… If you listen to high-resolution files on your Mac, had you already changed those settings? If you’d read my Macworld article of 2011, you most certainly did. But otherwise, this information isn’t easy to find. If you do listen to high-resolution files, then you should make the change now.

(Of course, this is only useful if you don’t think, as I do, that high-resolution music files are just a marketing scam.)

  1. Current Macs have hybrid analog/digital outputs. The digital output is a Toslink connector that is limited to 24-bit, 96 kHz. ↩
  2. If you stream high-resolution files via to an Apple TV or AirPort Express, then you won’t get high-resolution audio; they’re limited to 16-bit, 41.1 kHz. I understand that HDMI may go up to 192 kHz, but I don’t see this on either of my Macs. You may also be able to get up to 32-bit, 384 kHz audio via USB, with certain adapters. iTunes won’t be able to play that sample rate, though; you’ll need other players for this. ↩

Why iTunes Doesn’t Support FLAC Files

flac.pngI often get emails asking how to play FLAC (Free Lossless Audio Codec) files in iTunes. Users are surprised that Apple doesn’t support FLAC files, and generally rant against Apple not supporting open source formats. There’s no conspiracy or lock-in here; there’s a very logical reason why Apple, and iTunes, don’t support FLAC.

First, a quick overview of lossless audio files. These are files that use data compression to shrink the size of audio files, the same way zip compression makes an image much smaller than its original size. On average, lossless files – in FLAC or Apple Lossless format – are about half the size of the original, uncompressed music on CDs. (See this article for some examples of Apple Lossless compression results.)

Apple Lossless is Apple’s home-brewed lossless codec. Introduced in 2004, Apple Lossless – sometimes called ALAC – provides the same bit-for-bit quality as FLAC, and is supported by iTunes and iOS devices. In October, 2011, Apple let the Apple Lossless format go open source, so anyone can use it in hardware or software. (Note that Apple Lossless files look, in the Finder or Windows Explorer, exactly like AAC files, because they use an .mp4 container, and have the same file extension.)

Supporting FLAC in iTunes and on iOS devices could be a legal nightmare for Apple. Many open source software algorithms can be targets of patent trolls. While no one cares much about FLAC use in small apps and hardware devices, were a big company such as Apple – or Microsoft, who doesn’t support FLAC either – to start supporting that format, it’s very likely that someone would dredge up a patent and seek copious damages.

So, if you want to play FLAC files in iTunes, you need to convert them to Apple Lossless. Don’t convert to uncompressed AIFF or WAV, as they’ll take up about twice as much space. The free app XLD can convert to and from any lossless format with no loss of quality; use this tool to turn your FLACs into Apple Lossless files.

Note that Apple Lossless also supports high-resolution audio, up to 24-bit, 192 kHz sample rate. (See How To: Listen to High-Resolution Audio Files on a Mac.) The highest I have are 24/96 files:


I can’t see Apple ever supporting FLAC files in iTunes; it’s too risky. Apple created their own lossless format for this reason. It provides the same quality, supports high-resolution audio, and is compatible with iTunes and iOS devices.

Note: A commenter on the Guardian website, which linked to this article, suggested that this theory makes no sense, because Android – developed by Google – supports FLAC, and they’re a big target. I’m not sure that’s an issue. Android is technically – for the most part – open source, and is certainly using open source FLAC libraries. I don’t know what the legal status of that usage would be, but I’m sure it wouldn’t be as clear as a closed-source app like iTunes, or Windows Media Player, supporting FLAC.

Update, January, 2015: Microsoft has announced that Windows 10 will support FLAC on the desktop, and on mobile devices. It will be interesting to see what happens with this.

Theater Review: Othello, by the National Theatre

Last night, I saw the National Theatre’s Othello as part of their NT Live series of plays broadcast to movie theaters in the UK and around the world. Starring Adrian Lester, as Othello, and Rory Kinnear, as Iago, this production has been unanimously praised by the press. The NT Live broadcast is a live, filmed version of the play, from the theater.

I was very disappointed by the performance. I felt it was full of incoherences that nullified my suspension of disbelief, to the point that I actually thought of leaving the cinema before the end. I’m quite perplexed, though, as all the reviews that I have seen online about the play are highly positive. Did I miss something?

Yes and no. Part of my dissatisfaction was that I didn’t buy Rory Kinnear’s Iago. This duplicitous character is hard to play, and requires subtlety to keep from seeming clichéd. I felt that Kinnear chose a style of acting that was out of sync with the character, at least the character in this production’s setting. And there’s the rub: it may have been the setting and staging that ruined it for me.

Othello is a play about soldiers and war, and takes place, for the most part, on Cyprus, where Venetian soldiers are awaiting the Turkish fleet to go to battle. But the fleet sinks, and there is no war to fight, leaving the soldiers to do what soldiers do when there’s nothing to do. Iago, with much time on his hands, plots Othello’s downfall. This production is set in modern time, with an army (curiously wearing British flags on their uniforms; in the play they are Venetians) in a heavily fortified base.


I was not able to reconcile this with Kinnear’s demeanor, if he is indeed a soldier in a professional army. In Act I, as the senators and Othello are discussing fighting the Turks, Iago stands by a door, his feet splayed, his shoulders hunched, something no soldier would do. His way of speaking throughout the play was overly aggressive; there was no subtlety in his anger. If he was upset that Othello passed him over for promotion, his demeanor would make it surprising that he ever got to the level he did, as Othello’s “Ensign.” (I have nothing against Rory Kinnear as an actor. I recently saw him in a filmed version of Richard II, where he was an excellent Bolingbroke, and am seeing him next week in the NT Live Hamlet.)

Another problem with the setting was the fact that Othello’s wife, Desdemona, was able to be in the military base with her husband. Given the context, this just wasn’t believable, just as having Emilia, Iago’s wife, in uniform, didn’t work.

There was much over-acting in this production. There was a scene where Desdemona was talking to Othello, and Olivia Vinall, as Desdemona, seemed to be playing Carrie Matheson (of Homeland) off her meds. Emilia was stone-cold for much of the play, but in the final bedroom scene, she was over the top. Jonathan Bailey was quite good as Cassio, showing well how he was tricked, but Tom Robertson’s Roderigo was out of place. His limp-wristed, posh-accented character could never have killed Cassio.

So then we get to the two main actors. Richard Lester was fine as Othello, until the final bedroom scene, where he kills Desdemona. All of a sudden, he lost it. I felt he was wooden, overacting, and had trouble showing real emotion. Rory Kinnear remained the same at the end of the play as at the beginning, but at times he slipped out of character, punching the air in delight at a couple of points. All in all, I just wasn’t convinced by either of them.


So what went wrong? And why did I see something different than dozens of theater reviewers? I can think of two possibilities. The first is that the actors were simply tired. The play started back in April, and the NT Live production was near the end of the run, five months later. The second is the medium, or, more correctly, the way this play was filmed and presented.

NT Live productions aren’t changed when they’re filmed; the cameras have to adapt to the staging and production. So in this play, with many close-ups and tracking shots, there were presumably cameras on the stage itself, which may have jarred the actors. And this is a play that was rehearsed for a stage, not for TV-like close-ups. The way one acts and speaks for a 1,000-seat theater is very different than when one is in front of a camera, and perhaps the actors couldn’t make their big play fit in the small lenses of cameras.

Also, the NT live production of this play was long. In the theater, it runs 3:15, with a 15-minute intermission. The NT Live production ran 3:40, with about 15 minutes of trailers and a useless interview at the beginning, then a 10-minute “feature” at the end of the intermission. Also, the feature takes you out of the theatrical space, yet, when it ends, it simply segues back into the play, destroying any feeling a spectator has of being in the moment. (During the intermission, you see a fixed shot of the audience, with a clock counting down from 15:00 in one corner of the screen.)

The previous NT Live productions I saw didn’t suffer as much from this. One, Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth, had no intermission, so there was no way to lose the momentum that was building up in the play. Another, The Audience, was not gripping enough for it to make a difference. NT Live is a wonderful way to see plays, but they really need to resist the urge to include “bonuses,” especially with plays as long as Shakespeare’s.

You know the feeling when you’re watching a movie or play, and you get irked by a few little things, which all add up, making you want to leave? That’s what happened to me. I can understand why many people liked this production, but it just got on my nerves. I hope next week’s Hamlet is better.

iWant: Global Sync Filters for iTunes

Some people just sync their entire music library to their iOS device. I’m not one of them. My main library has about 70,000 tracks, and I have a second library, with mostly classical music, with another 40,000 or so. Choosing what to put on my iPhone isn’t easy. I’ve got 1,120 Bob Dylan tracks; 515 Durutti Column songs; and 4,001 by the Grateful Dead.

Of course, most of those numbers are lower than the classical music in my iTunes library. 2,472 tracks by Ludwig van Beethoven; 5,400 by Franz Schubert; and 7,614 by Johann Sebastian Bach. (I got these numbers using Doug Adams’ $5 mySpins app.)

So I use a number of playlists to control what gets synced to each of my iOS devices. Some playlists contain my favorite Bob Dylan songs; others specific sets of live Grateful Dead music; and others are playlists I’ve thrown together manually, adding songs and albums I like.

But iTunes could make cramming the best music onto my iPhone a bit easier. I would like to see global sync filters in iTunes. These would be similar to smart playlist conditions, and would affect all music (and other content) that syncs to iTunes. This could display in the Options screen, which you view when you’re syncing an iOS device. It might look something like this:


For example, I like almost all of Bob Dylan’s music, but there are some songs, which he recorded in his born-again phase, that I don’t care to listen to. I rate them accordingly. I have a playlist of all of Bob Dylan’s albums that I sync to my iPhone, but if I want to make sure the songs I don’t like don’t sync to my iPhone, I need to create a new playlist; one that contains all of his albums, but where I’ve removed the ones I don’t want to sync.

Most of my music listening on the iPhone is on the go, so I don’t really care to listen to very long tracks, so I’d want to not sync ones longer than a specific length. As for classical music, I only sync some, but I can understand that some people may want to not sync that genre, or other genres. The only way to exclude one genre from syncing currently is to check every other genre in the Music tab of iTunes for the device you’re syncing.

A Do Not Sync filter, which works like smart playlists, would be easy to implement and easy to understand, and would make syncing music to an iOS device a lot easier. A combination of playlists, artists, genres and albums on the one hand, and sync filters on the other, would allow you to better sync the music you want to your iOS device.

Understanding iCloud Backups of iOS Devices

With the recent demise of free iCloud storage for MobileMe users, many people are wondering whether they need to pay for more iCloud storage to keep their iOS devices backed up. A free iCloud account comes with 5 GB storage, and paid upgrades are available. But how much of that 5 GB do you really need? (To be fair, 5 GB is really stingy; Yahoo! is now offering 1 TB of storage for its email; not that you’d ever use anywhere near that amount…)

You can check by looking on your iOS device. Go to Settings > iCloud > Storage & Backup > Manage Storage. You’ll see how much space is used by your different devices, by different apps (Documents & Data), and by iCloud email.

2013-10-10 11.39.18.pngIn the screenshot to the right, you can see my 64 GB iPhone; it’s almost full with music, so why is the backup only 188 MB? This can be confusing; from some emails I’ve gotten recently, people think that iCloud backs up is all or most of the content on your iOS device.

Apple has a support document which explains what gets backed up:

  • Purchased music, movies, TV shows, apps, and books
  • Photos and videos in your Camera Roll
  • Device settings
  • App data
  • Home screen and app organization
  • iMessage, text (SMS), and MMS messages
  • Ringtones
  • Visual Voicemail

Your iCloud backup includes information about the content you have purchased, but not the purchased content itself. When you restore from an iCloud backup, your purchased content is automatically downloaded from the iTunes Store, App Store, or iBookstore based on iTunes in the Cloud availability by country. Previous purchases may be unavailable if they have been refunded or are no longer available in the store.

Your iOS device backup only includes data and settings stored on your device. It doesn’t include data already stored in iCloud, for example contacts, calendars, bookmarks, mail messages, notes, shared photo streams, and documents you save in iCloud using iOS apps and Mac apps.

2013-10-10 12.08.05.pngAs the above says, iCloud doesn’t actually back up that much; it backs up settings and links to apps and other iTunes Store content, as well as photos and documents. But it doesn’t back up any actual apps, music or videos, so none of these will use any of your iCloud storage.

The main case where your iOS device backup will be large is if you have a lot of photos or videos (that you’ve shot) on your device. If you’ve already moved those photos to your computer, you can turn off photo backups to save space. In the Manage Storage screen, tap on your iOS device, then toggle off Camera Roll. While you’re at it, you can turn off backups for other apps too; just find them in the list, and toggle their backups off. This will not only save space, but make iCloud backups quicker.

You may also have some apps that store large documents; in that case, these documents will get backed up. If you don’t need backups of a specific app’s documents, you can turn that app off in the above settings. (For example, you may have an app you use to view PDFs or photos, that you use for work; if you have copies of the files on your computer, there’s no need to back them up to iCloud.)

Also, if you use Mac apps that store documents in iCloud – notably Apple’s Pages, Keynote or Numbers, but many others can as well – you may need more storage space for them. Also, if you have a lot of iCloud email, that will take up space. (You can always cull your email, moving some of it to your computer.) But if you don’t use iCloud for large documents, and don’t have a lot of email, you may find that 5 GB is enough for a couple of iOS devices.

So check what you need to back up. You might be able to trim your backups and save money on iCloud storage.

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iTunes Match Feature I’d Like to See: CD Matches

While I have some issues with iTunes Match – notably the fact that it doesn’t match very well – I was ripping some CDs today, and realized that there is one feature that could be very useful.

I got a 39-disc set of Opera Baroque, from Harmonia Mundi, and had to spend a long time ripping the CDs. Wouldn’t it be great if you could insert a CD on your computer, have iTunes match it, then have it added to your library without needing to rip the discs? While you’d have to download the music, it’s still less labor-intensive than ripping CDs, at least for multi-disc sets.

I can see the reason why this wouldn’t work – it’s too easy for a friend to bring their CD collection to your home, and for you to insert one CD after another, matching them, then downloading the tracks. But since you could also just rip that friend’s CDs, it’s not that much of a difference, other than the time saved.

You may ask why I am buying box sets of music on CD rather than from the iTunes Store or Amazon? It turns out – paradoxically – that most classical box sets are much cheaper than they are by download. This set costs £57 from Amazon UK; it’s not available from Amazon US, nor is it available by download. Even when classical sets are available by download, they are often cheaper on CD. Go figure.

List of Shakespeare Films on the iTunes Store

If you like Shakespeare, you may like to watch the many filmed adaptations of his plays. You may want to buy them, to add to your collection, or you may simply want to rent a movie of a Shakespeare play to watch one evening.

Here is a list of all the Shakespeare adaptations I could find on the iTunes Store. I started making this list for myself, but realized that others might find it useful. The links are to the US iTunes Store; other country stores may or may not have all of these films, and others countries may have films that are not on this list.

I’ve put the names of actors, and, in some cases, directors under each graphic. I’ve also put star ratings next to the ones that I’ve seen, and, in some cases, links to reviews on my website.

All’s Well That Ends Well

Antony and Cleopatra

Charlton Heston, Hildegard Neil, Eric Porter, 1972

As You Like It

★★★★ Brendan Hughes, Naomi Frederick, Laura Rogers, Dominic Rowan, Philip Bird, Jack Laskey, 2010 (Globe Theatre stage production)

The Comedy of Errors


★★★★ Greard Butler, Ralph Fiennes, Harry Fenn, Jessica Chastain, Vanessa Redgrave, 2012

Read more

Summing Up My Shakespeare Week

In mid-September, I went to Stratford-upon-Avon for a week’s worth of Shakespeare. I saw four plays, took a tour of the Royal Shakespeare Company’s theaters, interviewed two actors from the RSC, and interviewed the doyen of Shakespeare scholars, Stanley Wells.

It was an interesting week. Stratford-upon-Avon is a lovely little town, and I stayed at the Arden Hotel, which is right across the street from the RSC. The area around the RSC is delightful, with riverside gardens, and more swans and ducks than you can imagine. Here’s a picture from the RSC’s riverside café:


The RSC has two theaters: the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, which seats 1,040 people, and the Swan Theatre, which seats 460. The first play I saw, Titus Andronicus was in the Swan, and the other three were in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre. While the latter theater is twice the size of the Swan, it doesn’t seem large, since both theaters have thrust stages, with the audience on three sides of the stage. No matter where you sit, you are very close to the action.

It was a tiring week, though. With four long plays – from 2:45 for Titus Andronicus to 3:35 for Hamlet (intermissions included) – these are long evenings of sustained attention. While I’m familiar with Shakespeare’s language, I still need to pay more attention than with, say, a movie or TV series, and four plays in four days proved taxing. But these were all excellent productions, and I’m especially looking forward to seeing Hamlet again.

Here are links to all the articles I have posted if you want to catch up with my Shakespeare week events:

  • On Monday, I saw Titus Andronicus for the second time. (I had seen it already in June.) Here’s my review.
  • On Tuesday, I saw another play for the second time: As You Like It. Read my review.
  • Wednesday was Hamlet day. Read my review of this excellent production. I’m looking forward to seeing it again in a month in Newcastle.
  • On Thursday morning, I met with Stanley Wells, the renowned Shakespeare scholar and editor. Read my interview with Professor Wells.
  • On Thursday evening, I saw All’s Well that Ends Well. Here’s my review.
  • Finally, on Friday morning, I met with Pippa Nixon and Alex Waldmann, of the RSC. We discussed what it’s like working within the RSC, and how actors negotiate playing different roles. Read my interview.

My next visit to Stratford will be early November to see the RSC’s production of Richard II, starring David Tenant. I’ll be seeing Hamlet before that in Newcastle, which is about two hours north of York, where I live.

If you’re interested in following my writings about Shakespeare – and there will be more – you can do so from this link.

Following this visit, my partner and I decided that we will move to Stratford-upon-Avon. Not only is there a lot of Shakespeare there, but it’s an attractive town. So, if you are in or near Stratford, and know of a house for rent (3+ bedrooms, near the centre of town), please get in touch.

Interview with Shakespeare Scholar and Editor Stanley Wells

At the end of my Shakespeare week in Stratford-upon-Avon, I sat down with Shakespeare scholar Stanley Wells. Professor Wells is the Honorary President of the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, Professor Emeritus at the University of Birmingham, the author of numerous books and articles about Shakespeare, and is general editor of the Oxford and Penguin Shakespeares. You can learn more about Professor Wells on his website, and you can follow him on Twitter.


Photo ? The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Professor Wells discussed the Shakespeare authorship controversy, speaking and pronouncing Shakespeare, and editing Shakespeare’s texts.

Professor Wells, you and Paul Edmondson have edited a book published by Cambridge University Press, Shakespeare Beyond Doubt[1] and written a free ebook called Shakespeare Bites Back[2], defending Shakespeare in what’s called the “authorship controversy.” Why have we gotten to the point where someone of your stature has to spend time answering conspiracy theorists?

Stanley Wells: Because the conspiracy theorists are vocal and getting a lot of publicity, partly through the film Anonymous[3]. It’s a bad film, very complicated, a silly story.

I’ve taken part over the years in a lot of events to do with authorship. The event at the Inner Temple [in London] in 1988 was a fundraising event for the Globe [Theatre]. I was at an event in the Theatre Royal in Bath some years later. I’ve often broadcast to the world through television programmes about it. I think anyone who’s interested in Shakespeare naturally wants to put the Shakespearean case against who don’t agree…

But the particular catalyst for the current campaign, conducted with my friend and collaborator Paul Edmondson, is because it’s spread to the academy. There are two universities now – one in America, one in England – where you can do courses in authorship [Brunel University in London, and Concordia University in Portland, Oregon].

The one in England claims that they’re not propagating the anti-Shakespearean case. They’re claiming that they’re just studying it as an intellectual phenomenon, which is a legitimate thing to do, and which has already been done by James Shapiro in his book Contested Will[4].

Why does it matter?

Stanley Wells: It matters because history matters, because truth matters. It matters because it’s wrong for university teachers to propagate theories for which there is no basis in fact.

It matters because history matters, because truth matters.

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