Shakespeare Solved® versions of these plays solve the mysteries surrounding them by taking us back in time to see the plays as they were performed for the first time in history.

This blog explains these new versions, and explores the life and times of Shakespeare, in order to build support for my new TV series versions of the plays.

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1. Shakespeare's Shylock Solved 2. Shakespeare's Othello Finally Identified 3. Shakespeare In Love Sequel Solved 4. The Real Romeo and Juliet 5. Shakespeare's Malvolio Solved 6. Shakespeare's Real Petruchio

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Will on TNT Shakespeare TV Series

I just watched the first episode of the new television show Will on TNT, about the young William Shakespeare.

I want to share some of my thoughts about it with you.

This is not a full and detailed review, since I would not have very nice things to say about the show — and my mother taught me that if you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything.

This show looked very exciting to watch, since the full story of William Shakespeare — how he came to London and how he conquered the stages there — has not been told on TV or in films.

The creator of the show is Craig Pearce, who collaborated with Baz Luhrmann to make Romeo + Juliet starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes, Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby, and my personal favorite, Strictly Ballroom — which my father watched and re-watched probably more than any other film he ever saw.

I have always had a great affection for those films, and I even got to meet Baz Luhrmann and Catherine Martin several times. They are some of the nicest and most generous people in the world.

So I was very excited to see this show. The cast looked great, young and energetic — and they are indeed very talented.

I don’t mind that the show has a contemporary rock soundtrack — I love The Clash’s London Calling. 

I don’t even mind the groundling audience members dressed up like they were at a concert, in the 1980s, for Flock of Seagulls, Boy George, or Adam Ant — with their spiked hair and colorful make-up.

I would have preferred far less nudity, and violence. I think it was gratuitous, unnecessary, and a complete distraction from the story of Shakespeare himself.

I wish I could recommend this TV show, and tell you that you should watch it. Sadly, I can’t. 

The biggest problem with this show, is that it assumes that since we know so little about Shakespeare, then it is free to invent history.

Instead of attempting to develop or discover some truth about Shakespeare, this show just makes stuff up.

If you don’t know anything about Shakespeare, you will not learn anything from this show. 

If you are familiar with Shakespeare’s life, or if you know a lot about him, you will probably be as frustrated as I am at how many liberties this show takes with Shakespeare’s life and work.

I encourage you instead to find a good biography of Shakespeare — James Shapiro’s 1599: A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare, or Peter Ackroyd’s Shakespeare: The Biography, or Jonathan Bate’s Soul of the Age.

You could also read or re-read his plays and poems. Or you could stream, or watch a DVD of, an adaptation of one of his plays. Or watch a production from Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre, or a production from the Royal Shakespeare Company.

Any of those will give you more entertainment and insight into Shakespeare than this show does.


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Happy Birthday Shakespeare!

Today is the 453rd anniversary of his birth.

I want to celebrate today with a new discovery I’ve made.

The Chandos Portrait of Shakespeare
National Portrait Gallery

Did you ever wonder why Shakespeare chose the names Viola and Olivia for his characters in Twelfth Night?

Did you ever notice how the name Viola is an almost perfect rearrangement of the name Olivia?

Is it possible that these names refer to actual people, who lived in Shakespeare’s day?

Let’s look at the characters.

Olivia is a Countess, who is in mourning because her brother died.

Viola is a young woman who is ship is wrecked, and believes her brother may be dead from the same catastrophe.

Instantly we can see that Shakespeare has created characters that mirror each other.

Malvolio with Olivia and Maria
Malvolio and the Countess
engraving by R. Staines based on the
original work by Daniel Mclise

Who is Olivia?

In the context of the play, Olivia is a Countess, and has a court filled with characters, like Maria and Malvolio.

Maria is Olivia’s servant. Shakespeare’s audience, at the Globe theatre circa 1602, would have instantly recognized Maria as the equivalent of a Lady-In-Waiting to Queen Elizabeth.

Malvolio is Olivia’s steward. Shakespeare’s audience would have recognized Malvolio as the highest officer of state, which in Tudor governments was the Lord High Steward.

Therefore, as Shakespeare’s audience watched this play, it would been an almost inescapable conclusion for them to deduce that Olivia was a depiction of Queen Elizabeth I.

There is one more very telling topical allusion in the play, that supports the idea that Olivia is the Queen.

Olivia has recently lost a beloved brother.

The first performance of Twelfth Night on record was 2 February 1602.

This is almost one year after the Queen’s beloved Favourite, the Earl of Essex, had died.

The Queen loved Essex like a son. There were reports of how these last days and months of the Queen’s life (she would die almost a year later in March 1603) were the most somber and most sad of her entire glorious reign.

Did Shakespeare write this play to reflect the events of his time, and to discuss what was going on inside the court of Queen Elizabeth?

It is almost impossible to believe that his purpose was anything other than that.

If Shakespeare was not trying to reflect the events of the time, and was not trying to depict the royal court of Elizabeth, then he did a terrible job of it. 

While this may not seem like definitive proof, this evidence is well beyond a reasonable doubt.

So, if we proceed with the understanding that Olivia represents Queen Elizabeth, who does Viola represent?

Is it possible that Viola represents another real historical figure from the Elizabethan age?

There is in fact a real historical person who was lost, on a voyage to another distant land.

Her name is Virginia Dare.

Baptism of Virginia Dare
by William A. Crafts 1876

Virginia Dare was born in the New World, in 1587, not long after she arrived there by ship.

Her parents had just traveled there to establish a new English settlement.

Virginia Dare was the first English child born in the New World colony of Virginia.

This Virginia Colony was named after Queen Elizabeth, the so-called “Virgin Queen”.

So, in effect, Virginia Dare is also named for the Queen.

The fate of Virginia Dare is not known. In 1590, a ship was sent to resupply the settlers, but they had disappeared. Why they vanished remains unknown.

While the baby Virginia Dare and the other settlers were not technically ship-wrecked, it would not be too much to say that their disappearance was comparable to a voyage lost.

Shakespeare featured shipwrecks in several of his plays, perhaps most famously in The Tempest.

It is well known that one of Shakespeare’s influences in writing The Tempest was a real 1609 shipwreck in the Bermudas, in the New World.

With this play, about the shipwrecked Viola, I think it is entirely possible that Shakespeare was alluding to the loss of Virginia Dare and the other settlers from 1587.

Finally, the name Vi-rginia is eerily similar to Vi-ola.

Therefore, was Shakespeare drawing a connection between Olivia and Queen Elizabeth and Viola and Virginia?

If he was not, if he had no intention of creating these associations, then he did a very poor job.

I think that Shakespeare was far too good a writer, and far too shrewd a chronicler of his times, to make such associations by accident.

What does this mean? What if anything was Shakespeare saying with Viola and Olivia and Virginia? What was the point he was making to Queen Elizabeth?

I will answer these questions, and explore all of this, in my forthcoming series of novels, which tells the story of Shakespeare’s entire life, and all of his works.

I hope you stay tuned, and come back to this blog for more news and developments about these novels.

Finally, I hope you take a moment today to celebrate the life and work of William Shakespeare!


David B. Schajer

Monday, April 3, 2017

Baltimore Shakespeare Factory Antony and Cleopatra

I just saw a production of Antony and Cleopatra at the Baltimore Shakespeare Factory — and I highly recommend it!

What made this production so special is that it was performed in OP (Original Pronunciation) — all of the actors spoke with the original accent that Shakespeare and his fellow actors would have spoken.

Here is a link to buy your tickets:

This is the first time in 400 years that this play has been performed in the accent that Shakespeare spoke!

That should be enough for you to drop everything, and go see this production right away.

If you love Shakespeare, you must see this production.

Even if you have seen Antony and Cleopatra 100 times before, you have never seen a production like this.

The Baltimore Shakespeare Factory is becoming the world’s pre-eminent company as far as OP is concerned. They started with Merchant of Venice in OP two years ago, and they did The Winter’s Tale in OP last year. And they are just getting started, and plan to do at least one play in OP each year.

What is so special about OP? I would say that it brings the words to life like nothing I have ever seen/heard before, with Shakespeare. And even the least poetic of his lines have a charm and warmth to them that otherwise is lost when spoken with another accent.

I will admit that Shakespeare in OP is sometimes a little more of a challenge for me to hear, and understand what is being said. But that is also what is so fascinating, when you watch/hear an OP Shakespeare play, you really begin to focus on the language in a different way. It exercises different muscles, as it were, in your brain.

The OP is also something of a challenge for the actors. Not all of them are as well-practiced as others, and there are varying degrees of skill with this dialogue in OP. But even if you don’t understand every last word of every last line, you still get the gist of what is said, and I was never lost in the play.

The main roles are performed by the most experienced OP actors — this is Valerie Dowdle’s third OP performance. She is as remarkable as Cleopatra as she was as Portia two years ago, and as Hermione last year.

Valerie Dowdle as Cleopatra
(photographs by Will Kirk)

She clearly loves OP and has a lot of fun with the role of Cleopatra. She really gets the different facets of the character — her campiness, her silliness, her histrionics. And by the end of the play, her death is all the more moving. 

Chris Cotterman as Antony

 Chris Cotterman is a great Antony. He is another veteran OP performer — I saw him last year as Leontes, and as Bassanio two years ago. He is a solid leading man, and does an excellent job as Antony, one of the most powerful men in history, who is undone for his love of Cleopatra.

I especially liked how he showed a truly emotional side to Antony, which otherwise could be lost in less capable hands.

The founding Artistic Director of Baltimore Shakespeare Factory, and the director of this production is Tom Delise. He deserves so much credit for staking a claim as the one and only company in the world to consistently explore and re-discover Shakespeare through OP.

Antony and Cleopatra is one of Shakespeare’s most challenging plays, even without OP. I applaud Mr. Delise and his brave company for taking this challenge head on.

If you are anywhere Baltimore, I hope you make time to see this incredible production.


David B. Schajer

Friday, March 31, 2017

Shakespeare Solved 5th Anniversary!

Thank you for a wonderful 5 YEARS!

Thanks to all of you, this blog is now 5 years old.

Without you, and without your interest in this blog, I might have stopped writing this a long time ago.

I am thrilled to say that I have many more years worth of material to share with you — with newer and even bigger discoveries!

When I first started this blog, I thought it would only appeal to a small number of people.

But very quickly this became the #1 Shakespeare blog in the world!

This blog has more Internet traffic, more page views, and a larger social media community than any other blog about Shakespeare.

This is the #1 Shakespeare blog in the world — and it’s because of you!

Shakespeare Solved is also getting more popular than ever — more and more people are joining this community each and every day, and traffic to this blog is growing.

I have some VERY EXCITING NEWS to share with you.

After more research, I have discovered new solutions to Shakespeare’s life and plays.

So, I have decided to publish a SERIES OF NOVELS!

These novels will take us back in time — to walk in Shakespeare’s shoes, and see Shakespeare’s world through his eyes.

This series of novels won’t just be the story about a few weeks of his life, or months or years.

No, these novels will tell the whole story of his whole life!

Yes, you will be able to read about how Shakespeare came to London, how he met the most famous and powerful women and men of the age, and how he wrote the greatest plays in history.

Also, you will be able to learn the full truth about his relationships with Queen Elizabeth I and King James.

This series of novels goes through his entire career, with new and exciting insights into each and every play. 

For the first time in history, you will be able to learn why he wrote the plays and what they really mean.

I will be writing more about this very soon. I hope you keep following Shakespeare Solved for more updates about these new novels.

Thank You!


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