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

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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Ben Whishaw and Shakespeare

Wouldn’t Ben Whishaw be great in some new Shakespeare?
Yes, of course. It’s a silly question.

He should do Shakespeare as often as possible, and with any luck he will return to the Bard over and over again in his career.
Because, from what I have seen, he seems to have been born to perform Shakespeare. 
He has a rare talent to communicate the words in a way that makes them as alive and fresh as they were when they were originally written.

I cannot find very much video of his performance of Hamlet in 2004, under the direction of Trevor Nunn. I did find this clip but it doesn’t give enough of the play to be very satisfying.
He was excellent as Ariel in Julie Taymor’s film version of The Tempest. There are some clips of him from the film on Youtube, but do yourself a favor and watch the entire film instead. It’s worth it.
Of course, most famously, he recently played Richard II in the first of the four Hollow Crown film versions of the Henriad, comprising Richard II, Henry IV Part 1, Henry IV Part 2 and Henry V.

as Richard II

It’s a spectacular performance, and it is hard to imagine any other contemporary actor doing as fine a job as he did. 
It seems that Mr. Whishaw has a love of performing on stage (he recently finished a run of Peter and Alice with Dame Judi Dench at the Noel Coward Theatre) and I do hope that he continues to do so.
However, he has such a talent for film -- from Brideshead Revisited to Bright Star to Cloud Atlas and of course as the new Q in the James Bond films -- that he really should do more Shakespeare on film, and hopefully the sooner the better.
I can easily imagine him as Iago, as Richard III, as Shylock, and I would love to see him as Macbeth. That would be something. One day in the far future,  when he is considerably older, he will undoubtedly be magnificent as King Lear.

What about Shakespeare Solved?
In my versions of the plays, which present them as they were first performed by Shakespeare and his fellow actors, Mr. Whishaw would fit in perfectly.
He has a talent for period films, and I can easily imagine him as an Elizabethan.
But as much as I would love to see him as one of Shakespeare’s fellow actors, first in the Lord Chamberlain’s Men, and later in the King’s Men, I have another very important role in mind for him.
I have written a great deal about Robert Cecil here in this blog. He was one of the most important and influential men in the later years of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, and when King James succeeded her, Robert Cecil was arguably the most powerful man in all of England -- perhaps even more powerful than King James himself. 
If there was one man who was William Shakespeare’s lifelong nemesis, it was Robert Cecil.
Shakespeare wrote about Cecil over and over again in his plays. Shakespeare caricatured him as Richard III, as Robin Goodfellow, as Malvolio, for example.
Without going into great detail, suffice to say that Cecil in my versions of the plays is not entirely evil, but a man whom Shakespeare feared because of the immense power he wielded.
I think Ben Whishaw would be perfect as Cecil, and I would think that an actor like Mr. Whishaw would delight in creating a character that features prominently in not one, but a series of films.
Just as Mr. Whishaw allowed us to see King Richard II as a not entirely villainous monarch, he would be able to portray Robert Cecil as a not entirely bad man.
What do you think?

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