An open letter to the Pacific Repertory Theater, the Monterey County Weekly, the Carmel Pine Cone, the Carmel Valley Leader, and the Rancho Santa Fe Review.
It’s a long trip from Walnut Creek to Carmel to see a play. But my wife and I are fanatics and will walk barefoot to Stratford to see Shakespeare. Last year we attended a production of the rarely-seen “Timon of Athens” at the Pacific Repertory Theater in your classy city. What a surprise to find, as a last minute replacement, the always-excellent Julian Lopez-Morillas whom we know from the Bay Area!
We were at a complete loss, however, with the program notes. So much space given over to questioning the authorship of the plays! Oh, well... – just a puzzling annoyance.
With “Macbeth” this year our former irritation is now unmitigated indignation. Page after page of the program is a treatise on the so-called authorship controversy with Edward de Vere, 17th Earl of Oxford, proposed as the “true author.”
A bit of research at home took me to the website of the Oxford Society. There I read that “The Carmel Shake-speare Festival is dedicated to the proposition that the Shakespeare plays were written by the 17th Earl of Oxford. Stephen Moorer is the founder and producing artistic director of the Pacific Repertory Theatre, parent of the festival. An Oxfordian (along with his cast and staff), Moorer was the host of the 1994 conference of the Shakespeare Oxford Society.”
Preposterous! We attend Shakespeare festivals far and wide. May we look forward now to an Oregon Shakespeare Festival dedicated to the proposition that the Shakespeare plays were written by Sir Francis Bacon? Will the California Shakespeare Festival dedicate all its future seasons to the proposition that the plays were written by William Stanley, 6th Earl of Derby? Will the Marin Shakespeare Festival give us pages of program notes arguing that the plays were written by Roger Manners, 5th Earl of Rutland? Will the Livermore Shakespeare Festival champion Sir Walter Raleigh? I can’t wait to go to Santa Cruz Shakespeare to learn that Queen Elizabeth wrote the plays!
But I’m afraid I am carried away with the absurdity of it all. This process will not do. Why, there are eighty candidates for the “true author,” and over 180 Shakespeare festivals in the United States. Unfortunately we do not have enough “true authors”; we need 100 more. But with people like Stephen Moorer around that should be no problem.
Is it true that the “cast and staff” of the Pacific Repertory Theater are all Oxfordians? I count 27 on the staff, 34 on the Board of Directors, and 9 in the cast of “Macbeth.” Does Stephen Moorer select his cast and staff on the basis of a loyalty oath? Is a rejection of the man from Stratford a condition for employment at Carmel Shakespeare? I cannot believe the most sensible Julian Lopez-Morillas would do this, but I will certainly ask him when next I see him - in the Bay Area that is, for I do not plan to attend again a play at Moorer’s theater lest I be asked at the door to forswear the Sweet Swan of Avon and swear allegiance to a nasty aristocrat.
President, Rossmoor Shakespeare Society
Walnut Creek, CA
(See my article on the authorship controversy, elsewhere on this Website, entitled "The Fat's in the Fire: Shakespeare is Bacon.")