No. 66 of 100 Reasons Why Edward de Vere = “Shakespeare”: Part One: He Was a Man of the Theater All His Life

“You are welcome, masters!  Welcome, all! – I am glad to see thee well – Welcome, good friends – O, old friend!  … Masters, you are all welcome! We’ll e’en to’t like French falconers, fly at anything we see.  We’ll have a speech straight.  Come give us a taste of your quality, come a passionate speech!”

Hamlet_play_scene_croppedHamlet loves the players and is first to greet them as they arrive at the castle to perform at Denmark’s royal court.  The prince is overjoyed to see these actors, who are old friends, many of whom he has known since he was a boy.

And it’s a given that the author who wrote those lines was a man of the theater.  The stage was in his bones.  He was at home with plays and players in their magical world.  He made it his business to learn everything he could about the theater, down to the details of entrances, exits, costume changes, musical interludes, sound effects, laughter, tears, fact, fiction – a mix of talents and skills and hard work in service of the powerful art of bringing stories to life on stage through actions and, above all, the power of words.

actors again

But what was the nature of “Shakespeare’s” involvement in the theater?  Was he, as the orthodox scholar tells us, in the same position as the actors who arrive at the court? Was his love of the stage, as we are told, from the perspective of the common players who receive Hamlet’s greeting?  If the writer of this play was one of those actors, as orthodox tradition would have it, would he express his love for his own colleagues through the prince’s point of view?

Isn’t it far more likely that the author himself was of high rank, and that Hamlet’s greeting to the players is a mirror of his own relationship to them?  That the author himself was accustomed to dealing with actors from the lofty heights of a prince?  That the author wrote Hamlet’s lines to the players based on his own experience, using his own sophisticated voice expressing simultaneous affection and condescension?

Castle Hedingham -- an interior view

Castle Hedingham — an interior view

“Shakespeare” and Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford lived in the world of the theater; and this fact is Reason No. 66 to conclude they were one and the same.  But unlike the conjectural flights of Stratfordian biography, all pieces of information about the earl’s connection to the stage are documented facts; and for Oxford, it began when he was a young boy and his father’s company of players — who traveled the countryside in summer, performing in courtyards and inns –arrived at the castle for the winter season to provide entertainment for the long cold evenings.

In the graveyard Hamlet learns that the skull in his hands was that of the King’s jester, Yorick, whom the prince had known during his boyhood.  The jester used to give him rollicking piggyback rides filled with laughter; and the memory is engraved in Hamlet’s mind and heart:

Olivier as Hamlet, with the skull of the jester

Olivier as Hamlet, with the skull of the jester

“Alas, poor Yorick!  I knew him, Horatio – a fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy!  He hath borne me on his back a thousand times!” 

Edward de Vere most certainly recalled those evenings warmed by flames in the great stone fireplace while the guests of the castle sat around the long table, all keeling over with laughter, as the prince recalls while speaking to Yorick’s skull:

“Where be your gibes now, your gambols, your songs, your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar?”

Part two of this Reason will look at the basic facts showing that Oxford, just as we would expect to find about the author of Hamlet, was a “man of the theater” from the beginning to the end of his life.

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