So why are people so willing to believe evidence-free theories involving secret agents, faked deaths and unknown royals over the far simpler theory that the guy whose name is on the plays was the actual author?
One answer is simple snobbery. It is impossible for many people to believe that a (“eww”) commoner with minimal education could have written great plays.
I really enjoyed these learning activities as they allowed me to really see what my students know, and allowed them to share their knowledge with their peers. The focus was 100% on them, which makes a nice change too!
The authorship controversy, almost as old as the works themselves, has yet to surface a compelling alternative to the man buried in Stratford. Perhaps that’s because, until recently, no one was looking in the right place. The case for Emilia Bassano.
While many of his words are indelible in the mind, I’d like to see artists treat Shakespeare’s works the way he approached his many source stories, with a sense of play and transformation. We continue to perform these plays again and again, rehearsing and reiterating this language, even though our strict adherence to what’s set down on the page (even if it appears in several versions) is a fairly recent development. New works in the Shakespearean sphere can take the basics of what the Bard gave us and transform those elements into something that better speaks to our world, giving back some of what he left out.