A play written by the former Archbishop of Canterbury and Wales, Rowan Williams, about the “lost years” of celebrated English playwright William Shakespeare is coming to Hoghton Tower this summer. Shakeshafte is set in 1581 and depicts Shakespeare as a Roman Catholic at the time oI’s suppression of the “old religion.”
It is 1581 and the Protestant queen, Elizabeth I, is half way through her long reign, but not all her people are happy to turn from their Catholic past and obey the Protestant regime. Talk of Catholic invasions and assassination of the Queen is rife and those of the ‘old religion’ live in fear and ever watchful spies.
This is the setting for ‘Shakeshafte’ by Rowan Williams when Edmund Campion, a Jesuit priest travelling incognito from one household to another, meets a young Will Shakeshafte who has been hidden at the request of a schoolmaster in Stratford! Based on some truth, gossip and rumour, it is an exciting play, full of suspense and drama and Rowan has used his poetical and philosophical gifts to create Will’s depth of thought and feelings about human relationships and to elaborate on the personal choices that he has to make.