Shakespeare Solved ®

Shakespeare Solved ® is a forthcoming series of novels that covers the Bard's entire life and work.

These novels solve the mysteries surrounding Shakespeare by transporting us back in time, to walk in his shoes, and see his world through his eyes.

Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

This blog explains some of my ideas and discoveries, to prepare for this series of novels.

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Articles Written For:

The University of Oxford's Bodleian Library & The Royal Shakespeare Company

Most Popular Posts:

1. Shakespeare's Shylock Solved 2. Shakespeare's Othello Finally Identified 3. Shakespeare In Love Sequel Solved 4. The Real Romeo and Juliet 5. Shakespeare's Malvolio Solved 6. Shakespeare's Real Petruchio

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Keira Knightley & Shakespeare

Well, she is no stranger to the classics -- having been in Doctor Zhivago, Pride and Prejudice and now Anna Karenina. Does King Arthur count as a classic?

So, it should not be long until she does some Shakespeare.

I have to admit that I never cared for the Pirates of the Caribbean series -- well, the first one is not so bad.

I liked her in them, but I thought that they didn't give her much to do. It all seemed like they were vehicles for Johnny Depp. He got to have fun, while Orlando Bloom and Keira played it straight.

I remember seeing her for the first time in Bend It Like Beckham. She was great! And her performance in Doctor Zhivago was great. But for many long years it seemed like she was risk averse, and chose only blockbuster films, which might have been fun to watch, but they don't give her an opportunity to show her talent.

Nowadays, with Atonement, Duchess, Never Let Me Go and especially Dangerous Method, we are beginning to see her give unusual and brave performances.

So why not Shakespeare?

For those of you who have read my adaptations of Hamlet, Richard III and The Merchant of Venice, you know that my versions take us back to the time when the plays where first performed, by Shakespeare and his company of actors, the Lord Chamberlain's Men.

There were no female actors.

So, what would Keira play?

Knowing that there are no female actors in the plays, I specifically wrote as many roles for women as possible -- women who watch the plays, and women who were in Shakespeare's life -- his mother and his wife, Anne Hathaway.

But there was one role in particular I had fun writing. I created a character named Mistress Quickly.

Shakespeare had a character named Mistress Quickly, an inn-keeper who denies that she is a prostitute, in four of his plays.

I turned that around and made the woman real, but in my versions, as her name implies -- she is in fact a brothel madam.

Not just any brothel madam, but one of the greatest in all of Elizabethan London.

Shakespeare had other prostitutes in his plays, Doll Tearsheet, and Mistress Overdone. What if these were real women, women Shakespeare knew? What if there was a real Mistress Quickly?

The theatres of Shakespeare's day were surrounded by brothels. I am convinced that some of these "business transactions" occurred in the theatres as well, especially at The Theatre in Shoreditch and The Globe in Southwark. Probably not in Blackfriars, but that was years later.

So, the character of Mistress Quickly I imagined for my versions is the most famous of all madams, she wears the finest clothes, has the best jewelry, and is surrounded by the most (in)famous people in London.

She would also naturally have been a friend to the playwrights since she would no doubt have loved the theatre, and perhaps she even had affairs with them. I can easily imagine her and Christopher Marlowe together. They would have stopped traffic.

This character I created also is in each of the three versions I wrote. I think she would have been a friend to Shakespeare, and while I doubt that he ever had a lover like her, I think he would have admired her beauty, her sophistication, and her humor.

I can easily see Keira in such a role.

What do you think?

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David B. Schajer

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