Mark Twain's hilarious (1909) debunking of the myth that
William Shakespeare wrote the works of Shakespeare. Listing the handful of
established facts of Shakespeare's life, Twain ridicules the fantasy that an
uneducated youth could have wandered into London and, with virtually none of
the necessary skills, became the greatest author in English literature.
Keir Cutler adapted Twain's "Is Shakespeare Dead?" because he feels people should at least be aware how overwhelming a case can be made against Shakespeare from Stratford. The traditional belief in Shakespeare exists because people believe Shakespeare was simply a playwright like Neil Simon or David Mamet. Perhaps Shakespeare was more talented, but essentially he was just another writer. Consequently why shouldn't he have grown up in a densely illiterate area? Why shouldn't his parents have signed documents with an "X?" Why shouldn't he have had limited education, or none for that matter? Shakespeare was simply born artistically gifted, and he wrote his plays and poems employing his gift.
What is ignored by people in general, and academics in particular, is the breadth of Shakespeare's knowledge of law, philosophy, classical literature, ancient and modern history, mathematics, music, medicine, art, astronomy, military and naval terminology, English, French and Italian court life, and especially his comprehension of multiple languages. Shakespeare added at minimum 1,500 new words to the English language: all these words culled from other languages, both ancient and modern. And he did all this without leaving a single trace of his skill? Nothing? No play, no poem, no letter in his own hand? And no mention of any writing is his long and detailed will?
Clearly there is a Shakespeare Authorship Question that can not be ignored.
WATCH BELOW -- Video embedded is Keir Cutler performing Mark Twain's 'IS SHAKESPEARE DEAD?' filmed at the 2003 Winnipeg Fringe Festival. "A magnificently witty performance," Winnipeg Sun. As seen on Bravo!/Canada.