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New Plays

BearBaited.JPGAccording to an article appearing in an October edition of The Guardian, scholar Jonathan Bate has linked Shakespeare as an authorial presence to Arden of Faversham, The Spanish Tragedy, and Mucedorus.

Bate believes that Shakespeare was responsible for select scenes and passages in each of these three plays, and will include these works in the forthcoming edition he is editing in a collaboration between the Royal Shakespeare Company and Palgrave Macmillan.

Bate attests to the capabilities of advanced computer-assisted analysis of each surviving play. Such digital methods have opened new doors for scholars in the field and have made connections, like the ones featured in this article, possible. Discoveries such as this one linking Shakespeare to other sixteenth-century plays reveal a new side of Shakespeare, featuring the bard as a playwright actively engaged in collaboration and revision.

There are a few clues that lead Bate to connect Shakespeare with the three early modern plays. Select diction and distinctive imagery in Arden of Faversham prove reminiscent of Shakespeare, while evidence suggests that Richard Burbage, for whom Shakespeare wrote characters like Hamlet and King Lear, played the main character in The Spanish Tragedy. Similarly, the famous stage direction “Exit, pursued by a bear” from Shakespeare╩╝s The Winter╩╝s Tale appears in Mucedorus.

Bate╩╝s discoveries establish the early modern drama scene as a community oriented and collaborative entity. Play composition may not have been such a singular act, or even a process exclusively between a company and a sole playwright. Theories of joint-authorship add a new level of depth to studies of early modern drama and open up many collaborative possibilities that can only broaden our understanding of this era.

View the full article on The Guardian's website.