SHAKESPEARE APOCRAPHA PLAY READING SERIES

"Pizza and a Play!"

The Shakespeare Apocrypha refer to a collection of 10-45 plays that have at one time or another been attributed, or speculated to, have been written by Shakespeare. Some productions have been mounted over the centuries, usually as curiosities.  They have been either liked or disliked more on how good or bad they are as plays vs. their connection with Shakespeare.

 

For the most part, these plays have been rejected as having been written by Shakespeare.

 

However, in the last 10 years new computer programs have found that a few of the plays do contain pieces of Shakespeare in them. These computer programs seek to find uses of rare words or combinations of words that are indicative of a certain writer’s style when compared to their accepted canon. This, along with some traditional scholarship, have brought this happy few into the sphere of active Shakespeare study. 

With all of this interest in “new Shakespeare” material, our company decided we wanted to explore these titles. In 2012, we mounted a production of Cardenio, Shakespeare’s supposed “lost” play.  As one of it’s cast members recently noted, while all of the usual Shakespeare conventions such as mistaken identities, displaced lovers and comedic subplot characters are there the audience didn’t know the lines or what to expect next which made the material fresh and more interesting to play. At the time it promoted lively and often unsolicited discussion from audience members who were intrigued by the show, its possible “Shakespeareness”.

 

In an effort to see which apocryphal play we as a company would like to explore next and mount as a production we decided to take the standard “table read” and do something fun and irreverent with it. We began a play reading series where old and new members of our company would come to read one of these apocryphal plays but served with a side dish of homemade pizza and beer and wine.