THE CHRISTIAN SHAKESPEARE – PRESS RELEASE
June 2, 2012 – St. Louis, Missouri, USA
The Theater of the Word Incorporated announces a new website devoted to the Christian elements in Shakespeare’s plays, http://www.christianshakespeare.com/.
Kevin O’Brien, founder and artistic director of the Theater of the Word, sees a need for such a site. “As an actor and producer, it has become clear to me over the years that there is a fundamental misunderstanding of Shakespeare and his plays that is running rampant not only in literary criticism but also in live productions and in films,” O’Brien notes. “Audiences and readers are thereby robbed of experiencing the genius and beauty that can be found in the works of one of the world’s greatest writers.”
Joseph Pearce, an author and scholar whose works are at the forefront of the question of Shakespeare’s faith, concurs. “In the past, the lack of knowledge of the personhood of Shakespeare has enabled critics to treat him as a tabula rasa upon which they can write their own prejudiced agenda. For the proponents of ‘queer theory’ he becomes conveniently homosexual; for secular fundamentalists he is a proto-secularist, ahead of his time; for ‘post-Christian’ agnostics he becomes a prophet of post-modernity.”
And yet, as much recent scholarship has shown, documentary evidence indicates that Shakespeare was almost certainly a recusant Catholic, rebelling against the state-imposed religion of the totalitarian Elizabethan regime. “And the plays,” O’Brien observes, “are profoundly Christian – written from a perspective that sees the human drama played out on a stage with heaven above and hell below, with virtue and vice very real things, the commitment to one or the other producing, quite dramatically, the consequences of our actions.”
The site premieres with articles by a number of Shakespearian scholars worldwide, including Fr. Peter Milward of Japan, who was at the forefront of the Catholic Shakespeare movement as far back as the 1960’s; Dr. Colin Jory of Australia, who writes with clear and penetrating insight into the plays; and Thomas Merriam of England, who provides stunning “new scholarship” that demonstrates that Shakespeare was most likely the key author of the original text of “Sir Thomas More”, a play that’s never been attributed primarily to him – until now.
“Fr. Dwight Longenecker, Joseph Pearce and I also contribute a number of articles,” O’Brien says, “which range from scholarly works with footnotes to entertaining and light hearted pieces – all of which look at the great gap that’s grown between a clear understanding of Shakespeare and the deconstruction – or destruction – of him by the modern world.”
O’Brien is encouraging other scholars and writers to “join in the fun” by submitting articles.
How important will christianshakespeare.com be?
O’Brien replies: “We are defending Christian and secular culture against a devastating loss. This is a crucial front in the culture wars, for a clear understanding of the best of Western civilization – which must include Shakespeare – is indispensable to our education and to our humanity.”
Check thou it out!