Shake-a-Spear at Ignorance Children’s Play

Put on a Play

Ask the class what hidden meanings the name “shake-speare” might have. Talk about the history of Elizabethan Theatre. Explain the importance of Pallas Athena and her ‘shaking a spear at ignorance’.

Get the class to put on a Play about it. Either start from scratch or modify the suggestion below to get started.

The pseudonym “Shake-speare” was often hyphenated in print – a dead giveaway that it was a front for someone else, e.g. on publication of SHAKE-SPEARES SONNETS, 1609.

The Elizabethan understanding of Pallas/Athena (Minerva) Greek goddess of wisdom and civilization, and thus patron of the theatre was basically her ‘shaking a speare at ignorance’ (using a lance-shaped pen – ‘the pen is mightier than the sword’).

Shake a Spear at Ignorance
“shake a lance … at the eyes of ignorance”
– Ben Jonson First Folio, 1623
vultus tela vibrat (ignarus)
– Gabriel Harvey 1578 letter to Edward de Vere

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A Children’s Play
by Tara & Peter Hogan

Modify it any way you like
Have Fun! 

Intro: Outline – Plot – Characters – The Scene
CURTAIN UP Athena appears to Iggie.
FIRST FOLIO MASK – Edward’s daughter Susan de Vere makes publication possible.
Stratfordians: William Shaksper of Stratford.
Oxfordians: Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford.
Notorious Hyphen: Shake-speare – homage to Athena [e.g. SONNETS front cover].
1576: The Theatre – Edward returns from Europe.
Silexedra:Edward lives near The Theatre at Fisher’s Folly, Bishopsgate [see MAP] – surrounds himself with his motley crew.
Elizabeth Trentham: Prime Shaker –  most underrated proto-feminist in history.
Add Theatre Studies to the Education Curriculum


A Children’s Play with 5 principal characters – about Edward de Vere being the true author of the Shakespeare Plays; the importance of Theatre in Education (TIE) as part of the National Curriculum (including School Excursions to local Theatres) in a world of ever increasing demand for the Producers of Content (scripting, acting, set design, directing, producing); and having a Theatre Channel.

A young boy, Iggie is playing video games in his bedroom, on his iPad …thumbs going / video screen flashing – action stuff, lots of blood and violence. Suddenly a magical fairy-like figure appears holding a spear. It’s the greek goddess (of Wisdom, Civilization, Theatre) Athena. By getting Iggie to download stuff about Edward de Vere being the true author of the Shake-speare Plays, watching it together, and then explaining everything using a SMARTBOARD with Iggie we come to see how important Theate Studies are to children’s education and careers.

During the action we go back 400 years to scenes involving Edward de Vere, Elizabeth TrenthamSusan de Vere – probably twice: in 1597 when Edward is working on the Plays and Sonnets (particularly #37 “a decrepit father made lame by fortune’s dearest spite“); and 1623 when Susan uses the First Folio to get her brother Henry de Vere released from the Tower of London (he gets out straight after its publication after 2 years, Henry was also in cahoots with Southampton).

The characters are all masked in keeping with our underlying emphasis on the First Folio Mask, which is fundamentally a homage to the epochal Greek tradition.

Athena – the Greek goddess – a young girl.
Iggie – a young boy.
Edward de Vere – 17th Earl of Oxford, true author of the Shakespeare Plays.
Elizabeth Trentham – his 2nd wife and ‘Prime Facilitator’ of the Shakespeare canon – a proto-feminist and the most underrated woman in history.
Susan de Vere his youngest daughter and ‘Prime Shaker’ in getting the First Folio published.
Queen Elizabeth I – re Prince Tudor Theory.

The Scene
Iggie’s bedroom – he is supposed to be studying, instead he is playing video games on his Sony Vaio – thumbs going / video screen flashing – action stuff, lots of blood and violence. Suddenly a magical fairy-like figure appears holding a spear.

To help us with working on the Play an early version of the set model:

Latest video of our Theatre model construction:
(3m:53s, 23mb, Shake-a-Spear at Ignorance Theatre Channel DVSA 17Aug10b.wmv)

Work is coming along on the life-sized models
and costumes for Athena and Iggie.

= = =


Iggie: (Excited, yelling and screaming) Kill! Kill! Kill! Take that, and that…

Athena: Why don’t you read a book or do something creative, like working on the end-of-year School Play?

I: Wuh, where did you come from… who are you?

A: I’m Athena – Greek goddess of stuff like Wisdom, Civilization, and THEATRE – putting on a Play. Athens, the capital city of Greece, is named after me, and it’s where the first Plays were shown in an ampi-theatre 2,500 years ago.  The roots of Theatre can still be seen at the Acropolis.

I: “Theatre”, who cares about Theatre, how about games? And what’s with the SPEAR?

A: I’m always shaking my spear whenever I sense ‘Ignorance‘ is around…

I: “Ignorance” – what’s does that mean?

A: Kids growing up with their heads in the sand … but that’s not their fault.
Theatre is still very important, it leads into Filmmaking, even the storylines of video games go back to those early Plays. And the most famous of all were written by Shakespeare.

I: “Shakespeare” – that’s a weird name. Who cares about Shakespeare?!

A: First we will download some stuff on Edward de Vere….

(2 Hours Later)

I: Wow, that movie was cool…I’ve got heaps of questions, though.

A: Ask away, I’ve got hundreds of years to kill.

I: Is there clear proof that Edward de Vere wrote the Shakespeare Plays.

A: Well, first of all, we need to provoke.

I: Provoke?

A: Get people thinking and talking about important issues.

I: I’d like to know more about that Edward de Vere guy, a bit more background, please.

A: I’ll try to keep it nice and simple, cuz there is so much stuff out there, so many books and websites, you can get overwhelmed by it all.

A (cont.): Let’s cut straight to the point, and start at the end, by taking the FIRST FOLIO, first.

I: “FIRST FOLIO” – what’s that?

A: Well, some years after Edward died, in 1623 – some 36 Shakespeare Plays were, out of the blue, brought together and published. And although in those days women had to stay behind the scenes, it was Edward’s daughter, Susan de Vere, that worked with the printer, William Jaggard, who she knew well already, to get them published. Her husband and his brother are the ones that get the ‘Dedication‘.

I: “Dedication” – what’s that?

A: It’s recognition to the people who made the publication possible, it usually appears after the title page.
Anyway straight after it was published, Susan’s brother Henry de Vere, suddenly got released from the Tower of London after being locked up for almost 2 years. Susan’s plan had worked – publishing all of Edward de Vere’s plays, many about the great days of England and its Kings…. made the current King James happy and reminded him how much Edward de Vere had done for the Country. And Susan de Vere was a close friend of the editor of the First Folio, Ben Jonson, she even acted in several of Jonson’s ‘masques’, which are short plays.
And to emphasize that ‘William Shake-speare’ was only a pseudonym.

I: “Suedo-” what?

A: It means a ‘pen-name’. To use another name as a front.
Anyway the cover picture they use of the author is clearly a MASK.

[Up comes the First Folio Mask]

A (cont.): You can see the FIRM LINE showing the edge of the mask going down around the side of the face… and the MOUTH is pushed way over to the right, one of the arms is reversed. ‘Stratfordians’ whenever they re-produce that picture in their books, always shade over that line to hide it.

I: “Stratfordians” – what’s are they?

A: Stratfordians are the people that do everything they can to continue the myth that a man called ‘William Shaksper‘ wrote the Plays. He didn’t even sign his name as Shakespeare, and likely pronounced it as ‘Shaks-per’ – he was from Stratford, which was a little village on the Avon River, north-west of London, in the Warwickshire county. But Edward de Vere in his last years lived near a suburb in London called Stratford, and he even had family estates in Warwickshire, at Bilton and Billesley.

I: I think I’m getting it all now. It’s really quite simple: the Hyphen, the Mask, and the  Daughter.

The 3 Dead Giveaways Vere = Shake-speare:
1. The Hyphen
2. The Mask
3. The Daughter

A: You did it Iggy! The Shakepspeare Authorship Question simplified – something a lot of grown up, very privileged people could not do.

I: Why are they allowed to keep teaching us this crap then?

A: Because Shakepeare is now a billion dollar industry. There are more books written about this Willie Shaksper than any other historical figure, even religion ones. You go into any book store or library, you’ll see rows and rows of them, with always another one on the best seller list.

I: Well how do they fill up so many books?

A: Amazing isn’t it, especially when the fact is, there are absolutely no historical documents proving Shaksper wrote the plays, or that he could even read and write. After he died his Will doesn’t even mention any books or plays, and leaves his “second best bed to his wife”. So if you look closely at the books about him, everything is guessing, they are just full of airy-fairy words like, ‘probably’, ‘undoubtably’, ‘must have dones’, and general stuff about the Times during the reign of Queen Elizabeth the First.

I: Can’t we stop these guys?

A: They are now very powerful. Remember this has developed over 400 years. They are in the box seat. The public over time get comfortable, so comfortable with myths that they soon become historical fact. Happens all the time.

I: But aren’t there some cool people that have stood up and said this sucks.

A: Yes, we are not alone. For instance, some of the most famous Shakespearean Actors have: Sir John Gielgud, Orson Welles; in the modern day, Derek Jacobi, Mark Rylance, Keith Brannagh, even Keanu Reeves. Then there’s famous writers like: Mark Twain – his book, Is Shakespear Dead? is hilarious;  Sigmund Freud; and Henry James put it best in his 26 August 1903 letter to Violet Hunt saying, “I am ‘a sort of’ haunted by the conviction that the divine William is the biggest and most successful fraud ever practiced on a patient world… I find it almost impossible to conceive that Bacon wrote the plays as to conceive that the man from Stratford, as we now the man from Stratford, did.”

I: ‘Gullible’, what’s that?

A: It means people who are easily sucked in – ignorant. Have you ever heard of the “Mushroom Syndrome”? “Feed them on shit and keep them in the dark”.

I: Well, what do they call us folks that don’t like being treated like mushrooms?

A: We’re ‘Oxfordians’ – because Edward de Vere was the 17th Earl of Oxford – one of the oldest royal titles in English history. And Edward was really into history. He had great teachers when he was a kid, like his Uncle Arthur Golding, Thomas Smith and Laurence Nowell – did you see the Beowulf movie? We have Nowell to thank for preserving that classic hero story. Edward was taught a lot of the most famous Greek and Old Scandinavian mythology – that includes Denmark – through translations of people like Saxo Grammaticus. That’s how he got the idea for his most famous play, “Hamlet”.
And when he wrote plays on England’s history he couldn’t resist over-promoting his ancestors like the 13th Earl of Oxford in his “Henry the Sixth” Play.

I: Tell me more about the pseudonym he used.

A: “Shake-speare” was also often printed with a hyphen, for example, on the front cover of the famous Sonnets.

I: “Sonnets…?

A: A book of poems. Shake-hypen-Spear. Just Google it.

[Up comes the Shake-speare Sonnets]

Actually, that’s where I, as the goddess Athena come in… Edward de Vere had picked the perfect pen-name, in those days they knew I was all about shaking a spear at ignorance
Ben Jonson in the First Folio, says “shake a lance … at the eyes of ignorance”.
But long before the Plays were even written in 1578 another writer, Geoffrey Harvey, gave Edward the idea to use it, in a letter to him, in Latin. After references to me, he has the words “vultus tela vibrat”, which translates as ‘thy will shake spears’.
So you can see Edward de Vere and his children are all over the Shake-scene.

I: Wow, amazing. I just think this Theatre stuff is so cool. I really want to get into it. Maybe even have a go at writing a play like Edward de Vere. How old was he when he started?

A: Well, there’s a work called The Tragical History of Romeus & Juliet that was published 1562, under what looks like one of his early pen-names, Arthur Brooke, because nothing was heard of that guy again, that was when he was just 12.

A (cont.): He was always reworking his plays. That one later became Romeo & Juliet.

I: Wow, where did he get his ideas for plays from?

A: What really got him going was going over to Europe, especially Italy and France, when he was about 25. Their Theatre was way ahead of England, so he picked up lots of ideas.
It can be no coincidence that the year he returns, 1576, the first public Theatre was opened when he return to England. And you know what is was called?

I: What?

A: ‘THE THEATRE‘. That popularized the use of the word. Before that it was just the Greek, ‘ampi-theatre‘.
Edward de Vere soon attracts around him a band of merry men, his motley crew, to help get his plays out. This mainly happens at his London house which just happens to just down the road from, guess what?

I: The Theatre!

A: That’s right. His little Play Production House seems to have been called ‘Silexedra‘. This is all happening at… actually just
Google “Fisher’s Folly Bishopsgate London” MAP.
That’s it.

A (cont.): This motley crew includes some of his early frontment:

[Up on the SMARTBOARD we see a MONTAGE of these frontmen:
• John Lyly – “Euphues” – the first English novel with dedication to Vere;
• Anthony Munday –  “Robin Hood” contribution, Munday also links into William Hall, “Mr. W.H.” of the Sonnets dedication;
• Robert Greene – “Menaphon: Camilla’s Alarm to Slumbering Euphues in his Melancholly Cell at Silexedra” (for some reason the full title including the allusion to ‘Silexedra’ is always left out by Stratos!) and its Preface by Thomas Nashe/aka Francis Bacon, “[Vere] will afford you whole Hamlets, I should say handfuls of tragical speeches”, and Shake-scene = Theatre-scene – Edward de Vere’s whine at Edward Alleyn, the real “upstart crow”;
• Thomas Kyd – The Spanish Tragedy (“Hieronymo’s mad againe” – the line chosen by TS Eliot for the end of The Waste Land);
• Thomas Lodge – “Rosalynde: Euphues Golden Legacy, Found After His Death In His Cell At Silexedra” (based on As You Like It);
• Thomas Watson who brought along a young Christopher Marlowe, leading to “Tamburlaine the Great”, aka ‘Timur the Lame’…

Athena shows Iggie examples from the  Sonnets of the repeated allusion to the author being ‘lame’ :

Sonnet 37 (SASI Theme Song?!)

As a decrepit father takes delight
To see his active child do deeds of youth,
So I, made lame by fortune’s dearest spite,
Take all my comfort of thy worth and truth.

 For whether beauty, birth, or wealth, or wit,
Or any of these all, or all, or more,
Entitled in thy parts do crowned sit,
I make my love engrafted to this store.

So then I am not lame, poor, nor despised,
Whilst that this shadow doth such substance give
That I in thy abundance am sufficed,
And by a part of all thy glory live.

  Look what is best, that best I wish in thee.
This wish I have; then ten times happy me.

Note: The standard structure of a sonnet is highly complex and mathematical, including exactly 5 pairs of syllables, second stressed, in each line – requiring quite an educated author:

A (cont.): You see, all this explains why people wonder why, if Shakespeare was such a great playwright, why was he always plagiarizing other writer’s work?

I: “Plagiarizing”?

A: Plagiarizing – copying other people’s stuff and holding out to be your own original work. Continuing, the answer is that all along, it was just Edward de Vere re-working his earlier work, often using a frontman.

I: Like “Romeus & Juliet” when he was 12.

A: Right. Back on his life, Edward is not in the best of health in the 1580s, especially with a leg injury he got in a fight. So he has being ‘lame’ on the brain – as we see, that shows up in his writing.

A (cont.): Also, his first wife dies at just age 32, in 1588.
Then he has a stroke of major luck, not just for him but for posterity.

I: Posterity?

A: Us, future generations. Because he settles down with Elizabeth Trentham, his second wife, in the early 1590s. She’s gotta be the most under-rated woman in history! Without her, he could not have done it.

[Athena brings up on the SMARTBOARD Elizabeth Trentham’s role from our Wikipedia original.]

A (cont): Edward’s Plays getting more famous from that point, he’s gonna sometimes need a frontman to match his Shake-a-spear pseudonym, the perfect match patsy is found…

I: That Willie Shaksper guy.

A: That’s right. Actually some years earlier, in 1584, Edward’s little Theatre Company, The Queen’s Men when touring Plays around the country also did Shaksper’s hometown of Stratford. Shaksper, ever the opportunist, may have jumped on board Edward’s wagon. It’s interesting that in Elizabeth Trentham’s Will (she died in 1612) she leaves an annual payment to “my dombe man“, for as long as he lives. Who do you think her dombe man was?

I: Willie Shaksper again! I think I’m starting to get it all now. It all makes sense when you can see that Edward de Vere wrote the Shakespeare Plays.

A: It’s not just the importance of recognizing his genius, and how it all happened, it also highlights the wonder of Theatre.

I: Yeah I really want to get into Theatre now. But you know Athena, at my school we’ve got the usual stuff like: Chess, School Band, Music, Library, Sport, Religion – which a lot of kids don’t even do, just sit around doing nothing special, Languages, Art, Craft, Dance… but, why don’t we have THEATRE – why can’t we put on Plays… make costumes, stage settings, write our own Play even, take turns acting the roles, one is a Director, the whole thing. Then put on an end-of-year school Play for parents – making Play Bills, selling tickets, Sponsors even – making money for the School. Enter competitions against other schools… Awards for Best Play. All that would help us get into a school like Newtown Performing Arts High School, too. The Sky is the limit, Athena!

A: Your exactly right Iggie. And to start shaking the spear to make it all possible, you and your parents can help us pressure our government on the importance of Theatre in Education (T.I.E. – like the Brits have) as part of the National Curriculum (including School Excursions to local Theatres) in a world of ever increasing demand for the Producers of Content (scripting, acting, set design, directing, producing).

Please Prime Minister,
e don’t want to grow up Users,
we want to grow up PRODUCERS!

 First step, join the De Vere Society of Australia.

I: What’s that?

A: It’s a place where Australians can get together and shake-a-spear at ignorance. Just Google it. …The website explains everything. In addition to getting Theatre Studies added to the Education Curriculum, you can also help us get a fair dinkumTheatre Channel, with Radio and Internet downloads – imagine, anytime of the day you could see a Play, classics like Shake-speare, productions from Local Theatre, even your School Plays.
In the meantime, you can start by putting stuff up on our new Theatre Channel DVSA at Youtube – your School Plays, even ask your Local Theatre if you can put their Plays up too – do it as a little documentary, but from a Kid’s point-of-view, interview the actors during rehearsals, then the big opening night, it’ll be fun.
Well I’ve gotta fly… tell everyone to join up and follow us on Twitter to see what’s happening, and remember our motto…

I: You bet, just watch me, I’m really going to do my bit to Shake-a-Spear at Ignorance.


* * *


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