Maggie: We are here on board the USS Roosevelt for the wrap up of New York’s Fleet Week! And up next, You Tell It. That is a story produced and reported by you — one of our student reporters around the country. Today’s You Tell It comes from Dominique Jones, a senior at Princeton Day School in New Jersey.
Dominique Jones: Middle school and high school students across America study works of one of the world’s most famous English authors, William Shakespeare.
Student: At my school, Princeton Day School in New Jersey, we’re required to read three of Shakespeare’s plays before graduating: Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet and Othello.
Dominique: In addition to reading Shakespeare, some students memorize and recite his works, or assume the role of one of his 1,221 characters. In fact, studying Shakespeare has been part of our education in America for such a long time that it’s hard to think that he may not have written all of the works attributed to him. But that’s an issue that continues to be debated.
Last year, a movie called Anonymous portrayed Shakespeare as a substitute for Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford. Anonymous wasn’t the first time that some people questioned whether Shakespeare wrote all the works attributed to him, but posing the question in a feature film brought the issue front and center among literature lovers.
One of the stars of Anonymous, Mark Rylance, was the artistic director of the New Globe Theater in London for ten years.
Mark Rylance: The problem with the man from Stratford, to whom the plays are attributed, is that there is no evidence of him having this kind of education — any education. There is a legitimate, reasonable question here. I think that they should be allowed to inquire. I’ve found the inquiry really enjoyable.
Dominique: So, what do students and teachers think about the issue?
Drama teacher: I don’t think it’s a valid theory at all. I think it’s an interesting theory. I think it’s a kind of backhanded tribute to Shakespears’ genius. How could the relatively uneducated man who wasn’t from nobility and wasn’t even from London have his finger on the pulse of this whole culture?
Student: We talk a lot about his writing style and I understand that there are some changes in the writing that could lead people to believe that it wasn’t just Shakespeare who wrote it. Some of the language used seems to be different. I think it’s just really a tribute to his ability to expand his speech to many different forms of writing.
Dominique: Recently, I caught up with students from the film Shakespeare High. To them, what’s most important about the issue is what was written in Shakespeare’s work, not who the author really was.
Tosh hall: At the end of the day, maybe 1,000 people wrote Hamlet or maybe Romeo and Juliet, etc, but Shakespeare wrote the best.
Dominique: Dominique for Channel One News.