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Manhattan Theatre Source Presents SHAKESPEARE'S ANTI-CHRISTIAN SATIRES: THE VIRGIN MARY PARODIES 9/5 Followed By Outdoor Procession


Was Shakespeare actually a Marrano Jewish woman? This production, guided by a radical new dramaturgy, demonstrates the idea with performances of anti-Christian satires in three of Shakespeare's best-known tragedies.

"Shakespeare's Anti-Christian satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies"
Manhattan Theatre Source, 177 MacDougal Street
Runs One Hour
"Virgin Mary Mystery Play Procession," an outdoor event at Washington Square, starting at southern end near chess boards. This is a free procession that leads the audience to the theater for "Shakespeare's Anti-Christian satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies."
FREE; info 212-769-9537,

On September 5 and 12, The Dark Lady Players ( will perform "Shakespeare's Anti-Christian satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies," extracts from their Shakespeare Miscellany that illustrate newly discovered satires in the characters of Ophelia, Desdemona and Juliet.

The discoveries are revealed in revolutionary new dramaturgy by John Hudson, an English Shakespearean researcher, that presents a 16th century Marrano/Converso Jewish woman as the real author of Shakespeare's plays and sonnets. Amelia Bassano Lanier (1569-1645), the so called Dark Lady who was the first woman in England to have a book of her poetry printed ("Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum," 1611), has been previously known to scholars only as a poet and early feminist critic of the Christian gospel and the long term mistress to the man in charge of the English theater. New research by Mr. Hudson, conducted at the Shakespeare Institute, University of Birmingham and documented in his 800 page biography "The Dark Lady," presents her as the author of Shakespeare's poems and plays, which are also shown to contain allegorical anti-Christian satires. This production, guided by this new dramaturgy, is made up entirely of Amelia/Shakespeare's purported spoofs of the Virgin Mary.

The Amelia Bassano Theory is gaining ground fast in Shakespeare circles. The Canadian literary journal The Queen's Quarterly, in an 11 page review in summer 2008 titled "Rethinking Shakespeare," concluded that "the case for Amelia Bassano Lanier is as plausible as Shakespeare's and more plausible than many others." The peer-reviewed Shakespearean authorship journal, The Oxfordian, edited by Dr. Michael Egan, is issuing a special issue in October, 2009 on the main Shakespearean authorship candidates, including a 5,000 word article on this new candidate. Indicating the growing interest in this latest Shakespearean discovery, Eastern Connecticut State University in Willimantic, CT will have Mr. Hudson give the University Lecture on this subject on November 11, 2009 at 3:00 pm. Professor Kelly Morgan, the founder of the Mint Theater and a regional chair of the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival, says these insights "open new and breathtaking performance avenues for professional companies and a multitude of possibilities for academic researchers" and is collaborating with Mr. Hudson on an allegorical production of "Twelfth Night" next year at Fitchburg State College, MA.

The Dark Lady Players has previously staged demonstrations of Jewish allegories in "Midsummer Night's Dream" and "As You Like It," but the Virgin Mary allegories in "Othello," "Hamlet" and "Romeo and Juliet", are being acted live for the first time.

Before the first staging, on September 5 at 2:15 pm, the company will precede its performance with an outdoor event, "The Virgin Mary Mystery Play Procession," based on the York Mystery Plays, starting at the southern end of Washington Square near the chess boards and leading the audience to Manhattan Theater Source, where "Shakespeare's Anti-Christian satires: The Virgin Mary Parodies" will be unveiled.

Dramaturg John Hudson, author of the theory, is a strategic consultant who specializes in new industry models and innovation. He has degrees in Theater and Shakespeare, in Management, and in Social Science. He recently wrote in the Clyde Fitch Report, "This work will thus raise a profound question: Why would a recusant Catholic like the Man from Stratford write such shocking anti-Christian parodies? Surely their existence is one more indication--like the comic parody of the crucifixion in A Midsummer Night's Dream--that the plays may have been written by someone else, a someone who is certainly not a Christian. In Elizabethan England, that narrows the field down considerably." (

The Dark Lady Players have staged the underlying allegories using meta-theatrical devices. Their aesthetic is drawn partly from Gordon Craig's early 20th century concept of the actor as the "uber-marionette," but more significantly from the Elizabethan theater of the early 1590s, when the first Shakespearean plays were being written. This includes using actors sort of like human puppets.

Visible symbols are used to literally enact hidden literary references. In the current production Hamlet, played by Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler, wears a large sun-hat with rays of colored paper coming out of his head to indicate that he represents Helios, since his father is described as Hyperion. Ophelia, played by Mimi Hirt, is heavily costumed in blue and white cloth to represent the Virgin Mary. When she receives Hamlet's letter, she is even physically labeled as Mary by having the attributes of her name listed on Hamlet's letter. This is similar to the way that Elizabethan actors might wear a physical label ("'this is a dog' or 'this is a hare'" -- Ben Jonson) to make their identities known to those who were not sufficiently sharp or learned to work it out from other clues. In Romeo and Juliet, the Nurse (played by Megan McGrath), who is named Angelica (after the root of the Holy Ghost), has little wings to show that she is allegorically the angel of the Annunciation, which is why she refers to Susan (from Susannah, the Hebrew word for lily,the symbol of the Annunciation). This indicates the nature of the getting mary-ed that she wants to impose upon Juliet, and explains why part of the Nurse's scene is based on an apocryphal account of the Virgin Mary in the Temple.

This performance is offered as a "proof of concept" demonstration. It is directed by Jenny Greeman, who is the resident director of the Dark Lady Players. The cast includes Alexandra Cohen-Spiegler, Anna Wood, Mimi Hirt, Megan McGrath and Riah Werner.

Using, a variety of presentations of Hudson's research can now be accessed online, which should be good news to directors of Shakespeare, dramaturgs and just about everyone interested in the most recent thinking on these questions. To look them up, search online for "Amelia Bassano Lanier: A New Paradigm for the Shakespearean Authorship" and a variety of Hudson's other writings, including treatises on "As You Like It" and "Midsummer Night's Dream."


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