Review of the Dark Lady Players

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REUTERS RELIGION BLOG by Barbara Rosenfeld, reviewing the religious implications of the work done from 2007-2010 by the Dark Lady Players, an experimental Shakespeare company in New York City.
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  AREVIEWOFTHEDARKLADYPLAYERS:THERELIGIOUSIMPLICATIONSOFTHEIRWORKBYBARBARAROSENFELD ReformJudaism magazinehasjustpublished(on25May)anarticle‘UnmaskingShakespeare’bythejournalistandbiographerMichaelPosner.ItexaminesanewtheorythattheShakespeareanplayswerewrittenbyaJewishwoman,thepoetAmeliaBassanoLanier,thefirstwomaninEnglandtopublishabookofsrcinalpoetry.The400 th anniversaryofhervolumeofpoetry SalveDeusRexJudaeorum (1611)  iscomingupnextyear.Thisisinterestinginitself,buttheproposalthataJewwrotetheShakespeareanplayswouldexplainsomeoftheirmanypeculiarities.Theplayscontain3,000religiousallusionsanduse14differenttranslationsoftheBible.ItisproposedthatthesemanyreligiousreferenceswereusedinordertocreateasystemofreligiousallegoriesthatconveyasatiricalparodyofChristiandoctrineandwhichtellaradicalnewstoryaboutthesrcinsofChristianity. Hamlet  ,forexample,appearstobeacomicreligiousparodyofthe BookofRevelation .Like Revelation itcontainssevenangels,seventrumpetsandsevenletters.LaertesisanallegoryforChrist,OpheliafortheWomanCrownedwiththeSun/VirginMary,PoloniusforGodtheFather.HamletistheAnti‐Christ.GertrudeistheWhoreofBabylonandClaudiustheBeast.HoweverinthisallegorytheforcesofChristaredefeated,andattheendeveryonedies.InsteadofJerusalem,acitywithgoldenwallsdescendingfromheaven,whatarrivesisFortinbras,apunalludingtotheCityofBrassinthe  ArabianNights .ThecomicallegoryiseasilyseeninthecharacterofOphelia,becausethetimessheisinterruptedbyHamlet,whilesewingorreading,parodytheAnnunciation.Hamlet’sunrelentinggazeonherisbecauseheisallegoricallyHelios(sonofHyperion)andhisgazeparallelsthedepictionsoftheAnnunciationinRenaissancepainting.Howeveralldoesnotendwell,becausealmostallherherbscauseabortionsorareusedintreatmentofmenstruation.InthisAnnunciationthebabyisaborted,whichmakessenseifHamletreallyhasarrivedfromhellandistheAnti‐Christ.ThisnewapproachtoShakespeareisbeingusedbytheDarkLadyPlayerswhoarecurrentlyworkingonaproductionof Hamlet’sApocalypse whichopensinNewYorkCityinNovember2010.OtherplayswhichtheDarkLadyPlayershaveperformedonstageinclude  AMidsummerNight’sDream whichisanallegoryoftheRoman‐JewishwarinwhichTitania/TitusCaesarstealsawayalittleIndian/JudeanboyfromtheKingofIndia/Judea‐‐aninvisible, jealous,LordwhoselinescomefromthereferencestoYahwehinthesolarPsalms.Theboy’smotherisavirginnunandTitania/Tituscrownshimwiththornyflowersandturnshimintoachangeling—areferenceperhapstoleadingedgeNewTestamentresearchon  howTitusCaesarandtheFlavianEmperorstransformedtheHebrewmessianicfigureintothepro‐RomanfigureofJesusinthegospels.TheDarkLadyPlayershavealsoperformedthecomicparodiesoftheVirginMarythatexistinhalfadozenplays,andin2008performedtheallegoricallevelsof  AsYouLikeIt  showingittobeanotherparodyoftheRoman‐JewishwarwhichrecountsaradicalstoryabouthowtheFlavianCaesarstamedthefigureoftheHebrewMessiah,turningitintoapacifistic,pro‐RomanandcompliantChristfigure.MuchtothedismayofShakespearescholarswhofindthattheirfantasiesabouttheManfromStratfordarebadlyshattered,itwouldappearthatthepeoplewhoarebestpositionedtounderstandtheworksofShakespearearenotEnglishdepartments,butratherdepartmentsofReligionwellversedinRomanhistory,MarranismandJosepheanstudies.  MAY2010  BarbaraRosenfeldisajournalistandproducerofManhattanEntertainmentSpotlightSpecialwhichairsonChannel34inManhattan.HerinterviewswiththeDarkLadyPlayersareat   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nEA_4V0mk_A  and   http://blip.tv/file/1254195/    
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