Saturday, January 22, 2011

Zeitgeist watch: The casting call for "Ed Devery"

An old Broadway play opening in April is now, according to casting for a lead character who once worked for a Supreme Court justice and was "destined for greatness" but now "they speak of his past brilliance."

This sorry old fella who's been battered around by fate is named Ed Devery.

It'd be easy to read too much into this. (The play, Born Yesterday by Garson Kanin, was written in 1946 -- six years after researcher Charles Wisner Barrell created a stir in the pages of Scientific American identifying the sitter of the "Ashbourne Portrait of Shakespeare" as Edward de Vere.)

Still, in a year that will see the first Edward de Vere biopic, this revival reminds how we may be seeing more names or characters or situations from de Vere's life story emerging in sometimes unexpected places.

After the jump, the relevant excerpts from the casting call listing.


Philip Morgaman, Frankie J. Grande, Anne & Vincent Caruso & James P. MacGilvray (prods.) are casting the Broadway production of Born Yesterday. Garson Kanin, writer; Doug Hughes, dir.; Binder Casting, casting dir. Rehearsals begin approx. March 1; opens in mid-April in NYC.

Seeking — Ed Devery: early 50s, thirty years ago, when he was secretary to a great Supreme Court Justice, he was known as a young man destined for greatness, fifteen years later, they speak of his past brilliance in law, and charitably forget that he now has but one client, Harry Brock, who might have difficulty in finding a reputable lawyer to serve him, but Ed is past caring, Brock represents over $100,000 a year, which buys plenty of the best available scotch, attractive, but the years and the booze have taken their toll, but he still retains a glimmer of his earlier appealing looks, protects himself with an ironic, jaundiced sense of humor; Eddie Brock: late 40s-early 50s, Harry's cousin and servant, wiry little streetwise mug, knows he is dependent on Harry, and genuinely fears him, as he has seen him at his most dangerous and violent, smart enough to know how to stay in Harry's good graces, while at the same time having a dry sense of irony and humor about the position he is in...

Probably better just to end this post before venturing too much into the storyline here. Interesting, though, about Devery's "wiry little streetwise" colleague Eddie Brock. Will Shakspere redux?

EDITED to add links and references to the original version of Born Yesterday. The first draft of this post suggested the play was new. It ain't.

(Hat tip to G.Q.; creative commons photo by matt.h.wade)

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Look Here, upon This Picture, and on This

Two items crossed the transom today. First comes the new publicity still of Rhys Ifans as Edward de Vere and its accompanying blurb from Columbia Pictures.

Cue generic, string section-saturated thriller soundtrack music. And, as you read these words, think of that one guy with the deep voice behind every movie trailer ever made:

Set in the political snake-pit of Elizabethan England, Anonymous speculates on an issue that has for centuries intrigued academics and brilliant minds ranging from Mark Twain and Charles Dickens to Henry James and Sigmund Freud, namely: who was the author of the plays credited to William Shakespeare? Experts have debated, books have been written, and scholars have devoted their lives to protecting or debunking theories surrounding the authorship of the most renowned works in English literature. Anonymous poses one possible answer, focusing on a time when cloak-and-dagger political intrigue, illicit romances in the Royal Court, and the schemes of greedy nobles hungry for the power of the throne were exposed in the most unlikely of places: the London stage.

And so it goes.

Second is the forthcoming release (unspecified date in "spring/summer 2011") of the next big Oxfordian book, Richard Malim's The Earl of Oxford and the Making of "Shakespeare". Its publisher's blurb reveals this tome will be taking a broader scope than just a literary biography of de Vere.

The Making of "Shakespeare" will also provide "a historical overview of English literature from 1530 through 1575" and a speculative appendix on the role of Will Shakspere of Stratford in the unfolding "Shakespeare" drama.

Unless it packs a lot more new evidence into it than the blurb suggests, it won't be bringing as much original material to the table as will Richard Roe's forthcoming Shakespeare's Guide to Italy. But I have high hopes that Malim -- longtime contributor to the De Vere Society's newsletter and related publications -- will assemble a solid and compelling precis for the Oxfordian case.

Given the slough of misinformation about Edward de Vere that'll be flying when Anonymous hits movie theaters in the fall, Mr. Malim's work in the New Releases section of bookstores will, no doubt, provide a great assist.