By: Philip | 03-12-2018 | Weird
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Shakespeare Week Conspiracy Theories

It's Shakespeare Week in Britain. For English speaking people, and indeed for fairly anyone in the Western world, Shakespeare is a familiar figure. Even if you've never read or seen a single play by the Bard, chances are you have at least a passing familiarity with Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, Macbeth (the Scottish play), the Tempest, Midsummer Night's Dream or other works by the English poet and playwright. If you do have only a passing familiarity with Shakespeare, you might not be familiar with some of the conspiracy theories that surround his work.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">More conspiracy theory about <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Shakespeare</a>, this time centered on an annotated 16th-century text: <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Paul Budra (@PaulBudra) <a href="">March 5, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Well known amongst the theories circling the poet from Stratford upon Avon in Britain is that the author didn't, in fact, author his works at all. Some claim <a href="">Thomas Marlowe, Francis Bacon or others actually wrote the pieces</a> due to the fact that William was a poor and likely poorly educated man. He came from a family that was not only poor but likely entirely illiterate. Most historic works refer to him more as an actor than playwright.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#ShakespeareWeek</a> arrived! Shakespeare invented over 1.700 words in the English language. Many were formed by changing &amp; combining existing words, while others were his original creations. Check these words out! 🧐🔎 <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; BGC Wales (@BGCWales) <a href="">March 12, 2018</a></blockquote>

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Then there are the claims that Macbeth (or the Scottish play as it is spoken of in hushed tones in the world of theater) is cursed. Some claim that the story of the cursed Scottish Thane named MacBeth incorporated bits from real witchcraft rituals. Even the poorest of players traditionally spurn reusing even props or costumes from productions of MacBeth and historically there have been many weird occurrences, coincidences and even multiple tragedies surrounding productions on the stage, as an opera and even film adaptations.

UK's Telegraph goes into some of the <a href="">legend and lore behind the supposed curse</a>:

<blockquote>"A coven of witches is said to have cursed the play for eternity in revenge for Shakespeare’s inclusion of these spoken spells, with ingredients such as an adder's forked tongue, the eye of newt and a frog’s toe. King James I, who commissioned the first English version of the Bible in 1604, banned the play for five years. He was no fan of its supernatural incantations."</blockquote>

All in all, dozens of deaths are counted to be connected to productions of the play. An 1849 production culminated in a riot in which 22 died, for instance. Laurence Olivier nearly died during a production when a stage weight missed him by mere inches. It is repeated instances like these which validate the stage superstition and lend some credence to those who urge against mentioning the name of the play in a theater. That said, wasn't it the Bard who taught us that "all the world's a stage?"

Then there's the question of whether or not Billy was a pothead. <a href="">Scientists claimed to have found traces of cannabis on pipes</a> found buried in William Shakespeare's garden for instance. I can certainly imagine the actor turned playwright toking on a number while coming up with Midsummer Night's Dream or The Tempest, hearing a knock at the door, burying the pipe as quickly as possible and then forgetting where exactly he had hidden the thing after his company had left. Replace cannabis with opium and you basically have the reason why Coleridge never finished his epic poem Kublai Khan.

Then there's the theories surrounding whether or not <a href="">Shakespeare wrote Psalms</a>. After the Scottish Play he found himself on the outs with King James. Elizabeth had loved the Globe productions, but King James was a bit more conservative and it was a time when people were finding themselves in prison for writing works considered to be too "obscene." Would this be a reason for Shakespeare to agree to translate Psalms to get back in good graces? Some supposed evidence for this theory is in Psalms 46. The evidence, though circumstantial, is certainly convoluted enough to be interesting:

<blockquote>"As proof of this idea, proponents point to Psalm 46, and allege that Shakespeare slipped his name into the text. Here is how the story goes. Since Shakespeare was born in the year 1564, then he would have been 46 years old during 1610 when the finishing touches were being put on the KJV. In the King James Version, if you count down 46 words from the top (not counting the title) you read the word “shake,” then, if you omit the word “selah” and count 46 words from the bottom you find the word “spear.” Voilà! Shakespeare must have tinkered with the text and subtly added his signature. How else could one account for all of these 46s to work out so well? To top it all off, William Shakespeare is an anagram of “Here was I, like a psalm.”</blockquote>

Twitter: #ShakespeareWeek #Shakespeare #conspiracy

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