This interview appears in the June 2009 issue of the Shakespeare-Oxford Newsletter.
The Crown Signature, a play in three acts, by Alan Navarre, was published in April by New Theatre Publications of Cheshire, England. Navarre is a playwright and screenwriter who lives in San Luis Obispo, California.
SOS: Has the attention given the authorship debate by the Wall Street Journal April 18 coverage of Oxfordians Justice John Paul Stevens and Justice Antonin Scalia boosted interest in your play?
Navarre: Yes, I hope the eminent justices’ opinions will boost Oxfordian momentum and swing the doors wide open for the play and film projects.
SOS: What prompted you to write The Crown Signature?
Navarre: Someone had to answer the historical distortionist plays and film trends. I was particularly irritated by Shekhar Kapur — the director of Elizabeth, the 1998 film starring Cate Blanchett — saying he hates history. Is that surreal? That’s when I picked up the gauntlet.
SOS: Do you think that movies should be historically accurate?
Navarre: Hollywood says it must make only films that sell, whereas the logical inference is Hollywood makes only films it wants the public to buy. But I feel in the current zeitgeist people are rejecting the “programming” of traditional media and are rediscovering critical thinking.
SOS: Does that mean you’ll make money?
Navarre: Well, a long Broadway or London West End run may pay a playwright relatively well, especially if Ms. Blanchett is starring in The Crown Signature! But there’s plenty of star power for a film and for as many stage productions as the world will bear.
SOS: Is anyone going to buy your version of historical accuracy?
Navarre: I’m encouraged by the digging and discovering that’s ongoing in all areas of the authorship debate. I’ve had excellent correspondence from Robert Brazil and W. Ron Hess on the scholarly status of the autograph, for which I’m infinitely grateful.
SOS: Which interpretation of de Vere’s signature does your play deliver?
Navarre: It isn’t meant to promote an interpretation. My great hope is that Horace’s principle will obtain, dulce et utile, both delighting audiences and raising consciousness.
SOS: Are you a proponent of the Edward VII theory of the crown signature?
Navarre: Seeing through a glass darkly to the latter 1500s and concluding an absolute no or yes to any signature theory may be unwarranted. The truth of the past is our challenge to decipher. We’re bound by the duty of de mortuis nihil nisi bonum — one breaches that duty to one’s peril. As for the tournaments scoring nomenclature theory I wonder that someone of Edward Oxenford’s urbanity would dabble with these jots and tittles in connection with his name to remind the Cecils of his rank. Even Oxfordian scholars who prefer this interpretation admit there’s no evidence beyond a shadow of a doubt to prove what Oxford intended by the embellishment. Historically theoretically I would rather appeal to Carolly Erickson’s inference: “Elizabeth . . . it was said, was seducing handsome young men. . . . Prominent among these favorites was Edward de Vere, Earl of Oxford. . . . Oxford excelled at those courtly graces Elizabeth admired. . . . He was . . . the ideal partner for the queen (The First Elizabeth 267).”
The play opens with this prologue:
The play is based on letters and other documentation of Edward de Vere 17th Earl of Oxford, Queen Elizabeth I of England, plays and poetry of William Shake-speare, and such of other pertinent historical persons and events. It is intended that the spirit of the history portrayed is accurate and that historical facts are not distorted. Notwithstanding, the play can merely present an inferential account of the distant past.
And the leading tag line I hope will read: “Will the real Shakespeare and Elizabeth please stand up!”
Also published by New Theatre Publications, Navarre’s play The Devil’s Chaplain will premier in November 2009 at San Luis Obispo Little Theatre, in California. Navarre’s screenplay Draft Pick is under option by Flashlight Productions, London. His several years in software development culminated in an invention, for which a U.S. patent is pending. He is currently writing and marketing several plays and screenplays, as well as attending the San Luis Obispo School of Law partly in an effort to understand the mind of the Shakespeare canon’s author.
The Crown Signature by Alan Navarre
Full-length play, in three acts; running time: 2 hrs
Cast: five males, three females; supernumeraries, if available
Licensing fee: £35 per performance; theatres greater than 300 seats contact agent for fee:
New Theatre Publications:
tel: 0845 331 3516
fax: 0845 331 3518
Book fee: £6
Synopsis of the Play: The life of Edward de Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, populates many situations in the Shakespeare canon, while Oxford’s education, social experience, and early plays and poetry evince the potential genius of the later works. The Crown Signature investigates Oxford’s authorship connection in the light of his mysterious signing of documents and letters with flourishes designating seven crowns, implying King Edward the Seventh. Any pretension to such an act and the signer would have lost his head. Why had Queen Elizabeth allowed this? Oxford stopped using his crown signature immediately after Elizabeth’s death.