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

Thursday, July 7, 2016

A New Vision of Shakespeare

I have a new vision of Shakespeare I want to share with you.

By the time I first began this blog in 2012, I had written three adaptations of Shakespeare’s plays — Hamlet, Richard III and Merchant of Venice.

I had originally planned to write a series of 6 or maybe as many as 8 adaptations — all written to be made into feature films.

So, my original vision was to create a series of adaptations, written for the screen, that you could see in a movie theatre.

But over the last three to four years, I have discovered so much about Shakespeare’s life and plays that I could not fit the entire story in the space of 6 to 8 film adaptations.

It dawned on me that the story I wanted to tell about Shakespeare needed to be longer, to give us as full a depiction of his life as possible.

Therefore I want to let you know what my new vision of this story is, and why today is exactly the right time in history to tell this story.

I have prepared and mapped out a full outline not for 8 individual films — but 8 seasons worth of television.

If a single season is from 10 to 13 episodes, that means that the entire story I want to tell is approximately 80 to 104 hours.

So, one day, hopefully sooner than later, you will be able to watch the entire story of Shakespeare’s life on TV.

This TV series would include parts of every single play he wrote in the course of his career in London.

In the same way that the TV shows like Empire and Nashville have sequences where you see the singers perform, in this Shakespeare TV show you will see sequences from Shakespeare’s plays in the original historical context in which they were written.

As I have written before, it is only when you see how and why Shakespeare wrote the plays that we will begin to understand what they really mean. The plays as we perform them today have lost their original meaning and significance.

Some may think that Shakespeare’s story is very small, all about a playwright who had some success, who hung out in taverns with Christopher Marlowe, and who cheated on his wife. 

Some may think that Shakespeare’s story is about the theatre he performed in, and the friends and colleagues in his life, but don’t consider how and why he would have met and worked for, and written plays about both Queen Elizabeth and King James.

My story of Shakespeare, which will be as historically accurate as possible, is much larger and much more epic. There is so much more to his story that we have not considered, and do not know.

I like to think that my story of Shakespeare is a cross between House of Cards and Game of Thrones.

As you may know, House of Cards with Kevin Spacey is based on an older British TV show called House of Cards, starring the incredible Ian Richardson. You should watch it, if you haven’t seen it already. In many ways it’s better than the American version.

House of Cards is based on Richard III by Shakespeare.

So, Shakespeare’s Richard III play is the original House of Cards.

What I have discovered is that Shakespeare was not writing his Richard III play just to tell the story of the crookback King Richard’s rise to power. No, there was more to it than that. 

Shakespeare wrote the play as a depiction of the royal court of Queen Elizabeth I, and as an unflattering portrayal of some of the men in her court.

Therefore, my story of Shakespeare could be considered the original House of Cards.

But what my story of Shakespeare has, that House of Cards lacks, is a sympathetic hero.

I don’t think there is anyone who really roots for Frank Underwood. We are fascinated by him in the same way that we are fascinated by Hannibal Lecter — both men are so evil and charismatic.

But Frank Underwood is a villain.

In my story of Shakespeare, there are plenty of bad, evil and corrupt people. But there is one great hero in it all, one hero whom we can root for — William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s life is very heroic, and he faced many great trials in his life and career. The fact that he survived most of them is one of the reasons why we know his name today at all.

It fascinates me that we know Shakespeare’s name, but we hardly know the man. My story corrects that error. 

We should know as much about him as possible in order to fully appreciate who he was and what he did. Also, we should understand that his plays weren’t written by some playboy lounge-lizard who was drunk all the time, and who was unfaithful to his wife.

Each and every play he wrote was a trial, they were like the Labours of Hercules — each play was a life or death roll of the dice.

For example, when Shakespeare wrote his Richard III play, it was not a safe thing to do. It was a very risky to write about the Queen and her court that way, at a time when there was no such thing as free speech.

As I watch a show like Game of Thrones, I enjoy the epic scale, beautiful locations, intriguing characters, the action scenes, the dragons, etc.

I watch every episode, never miss it. But when I finish the episodes, I always think the same thing: it’s all just fantasy.

Game of Thrones is based on all sorts of real historical events and people, but it is not real history at all. 

So, as much as I enjoy the show, I often wonder why more shows about real history are not being made. 

There is so much real history, filled with incredible villains and amazing heroes, that has never been shown on screen.

My story of Shakespeare is real history, with real people, with real villains and real heroes — like Sir Francis Drake, whose heroism literally saved England from being conquered by Spain. No kidding.

And just in case you like dragons, my story of Shakespeare has that, too! 

Sorry — I can’t tell you how a dragon shows up in a story about Shakespeare. It’s a secret for now.

I’m biased, but I can’t think of any other story more worthy of being depicted in a TV series than this real and true story of real history, on an epic scale, a cast of hundreds (maybe thousands!) with lots of action, great villains, great heroes, romance — and in the midst of it all, one of the most incredible stories of sacrifice and heroism, the story of William Shakespeare. 

What is funny about this new vision, of 8 seasons worth of TV shows, is this story could not be told until now, until this time in history.

A story like this could not really be told in writing, in a book or series of books. You need to see it, especially the sequences of Shakespeare’s plays within the overall story of his life.

A story like this could not really be told in a series of movies. It’s too long for that.

A story like this probably could not have been made for television before.

The real golden age of television is now. It is happening today.

The Avengers movies are great, everyone loves Pixar movies, but movies are only a couple of hours long. You watch them quickly, and they are done. 

But shows like Homeland and Orange is the New Black are much more engaging and engrossing. These long-form binge-watching shows have arguably become the very pinnacle of Hollywood.

So, in a funny way, my story of Shakespeare, written for TV, is not too late. It’s right on time.

I hope you continue to support this Shakespeare Solved blog, because it is with your support that this TV show will eventually be made!


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