I hereby announce a new project. I just posted it online, largely to establish copyright as I begin to see if I can get it some attention.
It’s not a book or an essay, and it has nothing to do with founding-era U.S. history, which are what most readers of this blog know me for. It’s a play, and a play of a peculiar kind. I’m hoping Shakespeare people, theater people, Wars of the Roses people, history people, literary people, et al, will find it interesting.
In “The Revenge of Queen Margaret,” I’ve unearthed a new Shakespeare history play.
(N.B. The site I’m linking to is by no means optimized for mobile — sorry.)
This new play is all him. I didn’t do any writing, just took the four Shakespeare plays in which Queen Margaret appears — “Henry the Sixth, Parts 1, 2, and 3,” and “Richard III” — and got rid wholesale of everything that isn’t about her, collapsing the four plays into a single play with the violent queen as its main character. [UPDATE That, anyway, is the conceit. The facts are somewhat different, as explained in the Notes to the play.] Shakespeare now takes Margaret from her entry as a young, ambitious person to her exit as an old, dispossessed person. In beteween, she engages in a series of actions that make her, as a woman, an antiheroic protagonist shocking for the drama of the day.
So really this project is what’s known as a radical adaptation of Shakespeare. For years, the aged Margaret was cut wholeasale out of productions of “Richard III,” despite or maybe because of her amazing speeches and attitude. Meanwhile the young and maturing Margaret of the “Henry VI” cycle faded in and out of that story; the cycle itself hasn’t always been taken seriously in Shakespeare circles (some say a lot of it is a straight-up collaboration with Marlowe). For too long, Margaret has thus been ignored, minimized, and cut out.
Now she has a Shakespeare play of her own. In the “Notes” section, posted along with the play, I go into some detail about the dramatic and dramaturgical violence I’ve done, on her behalf, to the original texts.
I don’t yet know what to do with “The Revenge of Queen Margaret.” I’m pretty sure it will be of literary interest, to some — but might it also play onstage? I haven’t heard it spoken aloud yet, so the play’s future as a work of theater remains to be seen.
I should also note that the website I “built” for posting this play is perhaps the single ugliest site I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen a lot. I just wanted to put the text up there fast, as if it had rolled off a typewriter. It also has zero mobile accessibility. Maybe someday this work will get a nicer presentation, but for now, here it is: “The Revenge of Queen Margaret,” a history by William Shakespeare.