A New Authorship Theory Has Entered The Game!

This week there are stories about both Amelia Bassano and Delia Bacon making the rounds, so I’ve had to spend some time talking authorship with people in my life.

So when I saw this interesting new AI project called TalkToTransformer I had to have some fun with it. You’re supposed to give this thing a writing prompt, and then it will fill in the rest.  I prompted, “The works of William Shakespeare were actually written by…”  and here’s what I got!

The works of William Shakespeare were actually written by two men; one was English and the other was an American. The English writer William Wordsworth (1710 – 1696), and the American poet John Wilkes Booth (1711 – 1816) were both inspired by Shakespeare, though they were not connected in any way.

William Shakespeare, known as the ‘son of an ironmonger’, wrote much of a tale known as the Merry Wives of Windsor. The story describes a happy couple, a young boy and a young girl – although it’s not clear if the parents are named or the boy is named.

There were many variations of the poem, and it probably wasn’t the last of its kind – perhaps the first. The early versions have been used to create an image of the Victorian age, featuring scenes of women (especially English women) in their prime; and an older man (sometimes male) with a young woman.

The play was first staged during the playwright’s lifetime, in 1819.

Hey, makes about as much sense as every other authorship theory!  I like how it made Wordsworth a time traveler.  I think one of the Booth family would appreciate being credited as an author, too.  When authorship comes up I’m going to start pushing the Wordsworth/Booth theory, because why not?

 

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Achievement Unlocked (A Geeklet Story)

Both my two oldest now are studying Shakespeare — Othello for one, Romeo and Juliet for the other — so the content comes so fast and furious it’s hard to keep up.  My oldest has to write a paper on Iago, in fact, because they finished the play when I wasn’t looking.

“That’s what I was going to tell you,” she says.  “I had to look something up about Iago for research … and you came up.  That was weird.”

Sure enough, if you Google “Othello’s ancient” here’s what comes up:

https://www.shakespearegeek.com/2011/01/othello-ancient.html

The funny thing is that there in the car I said, “It means his right-hand man, right?”  Which is exactly what I wrote in 2011.  And she said, “No, it means flag bearer,” which is also what I learned in 2011 🙂

 

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Trivial Pursuit for Shakespeare Geeks

I’ve oft-lamented that while I would love to collect and play Shakespeare board games and card games, I don’t really have anyone in the physical world to play with. My family will try to play, but the game ends up 90% me explaining things and letting them keep up.  Where’s the fun in that?

Well when Shakespeare Trivial Pursuit was announced a month before my birthday I knew I had to have it, even if to just add to my collection.

But! I think I’ve found a way to rewrite the game for when the number of Shakespeare geeks is drastically outweighed by non-Shakespeareans.

  • All of the Shakespeare Geeks are on one team.  Anyone not a self professed Shakespeare geek is playing for themselves.
  • The cards are shuffled and placed in the center.
  • The first non-SG player picks a card.  Player is allowed to look at all the questions, and the answers.  Player must then decide which question they think the SG team is most likely to get wrong, and ask SG team that question.
  • If SG team gets it right, they get the card.  If they do not, asking player gets the card.
  • First player or team to a pre-determined number of cards, wins.  SG team must get at least two times that number (since they get a chance to collect a card on every turn, whereas individual players do not).  Odds can be adjusted (3x, 4x..) depending on how many players, and how good SG team is.

Always read the question out loud, as well as the answer (in cases where SG team does not guess correctly). This has the added advantage of teaching the non-SG players something about the subject 🙂

If you play this way, let me know how it goes! Also let me know your ideas on what’s up with the extra wedge holder thingie, I still don’t understand that. 🙂

 

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M Night Shakespeare

Yesterday I wrote about how it’s ok – nay, expected – that you know the ending of a Shakespeare play, but you still go see it again and again, because it’s about how they tell the story to get there.  The only caveat to this rule would be those movies where it’s all about “the twist” (an M Night Shyamalan production).  I noted that Shakespeare doesn’t really do twists.

But what if he did?  I started wondering, which plays could be presented such that you don’t see it coming until the big reveal at the end.

Twelfth Night is an obvious example. What if we leave out Viola at the beginning, and pick it up with Cesario?  Then you’ve got a classic romantic comedy where Cesario’s lusting after Orsino, Olivia is lusting after Cesario, Orsino’s lusting after Olivia but kind of really confused about his feelings for Cesario, and so on.  Enter this guy Sebastian, who mentions a shipwreck and searching for his lost “sibling” and we think, “Aha! Twins! This will be good!”  But then we get to the big finale where we find out Cesario is actually Viola.  Cue happy endings and wedding music.

But I think it’s cheating to just do the easy comedy. Could we do it with a tragedy?  I was wondering – if we took out all Iago’s soliloquies and behind the scenes machinations, could we make a twist out of it?  Basically tell the whole story from Othello’s perspective, rather than Iago’s.  He has to deal with his new father in law’s fury. He has to deal with his right-hand man Cassio getting into drunken bar fights. All the while he puts growing faith in loyal Iago, who hates to say this, but who thinks that maybe Cassio might be fooling around with Othello’s wife.

I think this one would be much harder to splice together, but imagine the payoff at the end?  Suddenly Emilia comes out of nowhere to unveil that it was her husband all along?  Then the husband f%^&*(ng STABS HER?! And then, when they catch him, he’s all, “Yup, not going to explain myself. At all. You get nothing.”  That would be legendary.

Now I’m sad that knowing the real ending, I could never get to see how that would actually pay off, even if they made a movie exactly like that tomorrow.

This has more potential than I thought. What other plays could we twist?  The only rule is that you can’t add more original content.  If Shakespeare didn’t answer the question, we can’t answer it.  We can’t, for instance, learn that it was actually Gertrude that killed her husband (or Ophelia).  You have to stay as close the original material as possible, just mess with how the audience gets to see it.

 

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We Will All Laugh At Endgame Spoilers

I was actually a little surprised today to see somebody send me an Endgame spoiler over on Reddit.  It was a randomly generated account so I’m guessing it was just blasted to everybody.  Reddit doesn’t really have an advanced inbox system so it’s not like I could have ignored it — I click the “new messages” button and bam, there it is.  Oh well.

Here’s the thing, though.  Why in the world would anybody who’s read Shakespeare care about spoiler?  Newsflash, jackasses – we already know the ending. It’s not about that.  If your entire investment in the story hangs on keeping something secret?  Then you didn’t do a very good job telling your story.

How many times have we all read and seen King Lear? Or Hamlet?  There are no twists in Shakespeare.  We always know that Cesario is a girl (although, that gives me an idea for a different blog post…. 😉 )  It’s about how they tell the story to get there.  Honestly, I think plenty of people knew the ending of Infinity War before they saw it – but they still saw it.  Same with Endgame. We already have our tickets. Nothing’s going to change.

So, my fellow Shakespeare Geeks, laugh off any cowardly spoilers you happen to stumble across.  If you’ve got any investment in the story at all – and after 10 years and 20 movies, who are we kidding, of course we do – then no little trolls should be able to spoil that for you.  Enjoy the show.

 

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