Play explores clues about Shakespeare’s faith

| February 17, 2011 | 0 Comments

Was William Shakespeare Catholic?

Many literary scholars have made the case that Shakespeare was Catholic during a time in England when to be Catholic was a serious crime. The evidence, they say, is hidden in Shakespeare’s own plays.

Local theater company Epiphany Studio Productions will premiere “The Catholic? Shakespeare,” a two-person play exploring the Bard’s religious beliefs, Feb. 25 to 27 at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul.

Based on research by scholars Clare Asquith and Joseph Pearce, “The Catholic? Shakespeare” offers new insights into some of the best known scenes from Shakespeare’s most popular plays.

For example, in “Hamlet,” said Jeremy Stanbary, Epiphany Studio Productions founder, playwright and performer, “Hamlet’s murdered father appears to him from an apparent state of purgatory. Hamlet’s response is to call upon angels as well as what at the time were actually banned prayers for the dead and St. Patrick, who just so happens to be the patron saint of souls in purgatory.”

Two characters from Shakespeare’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” provide comedic narration between scenes, drawing out some of the history and allegorical themes that arise in Shakespeare’s plays.

“You’re going to experience Shakespeare in a way that you never have before,” Stanbary said. “A lot of people are intimidated by Shakespeare, . . . but this play, I think, really offers new insights to Shakespeare in a way that people can grasp.”

As to Shakespeare’s Catholicism, Stanbary added, “whether people are convinced or not is up to them when they leave the theater.”


‘The Catholic? Shakespeare’

Actors Jeremy and Sarah Stanbary will present “The Catholic? Shakespeare” at 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Feb. 25 and 26, and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 27, at St. Thomas’ O’Shaughnessy Education Center Auditorium.

Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students, children and seniors. Advance purchase and group discounts are available. This play also is available for booking.

For information, call (651) 336-3302 or visit http://www.epiphanystudio.com/the_catholic_shakespeare .

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Category: Arts and Culture