Robert Fripp’s Dark Sovereign is described as a ‘modern play written in the English language as it was available to William Shakespeare’ making it the only ‘text in almost four centuries to be crafted to the nearest idiom and syllable in the language of the “Golden Age”, the apex of the High Renaissance in English literature’.
I thank Robert for sharing the following media release with me:
Playwright slams Shakespeare, boosts Richard III
For the first time in four centuries a modern writer has challenged William Shakespeare by writing a full-length play in the Bard’s Renaissance English—fluently. Shakespeare wrote the Tragedy of Richard the Third as Tudor propaganda for the Court of Queen Elizabeth I, portraying King Richard III as a misshapen sociopath and killer. Author and copywriter Robert Fripp, the former series producer of CBC-TV’s long-running investigative program, The Fifth Estate, took four years to pen his counter-attack on Shakespeare’s play. Fripp’s Dark Sovereign tells the real tale of Richard’s troubled reign.
“At last!” comments New York director Nathaniel Merchant. “Here is the antidote to the scurrilous but seductive play by Shakespeare. Fripp shocks with his skillful and uncanny use of verse and his portrait of Richard as a man, not a caricature or stock villain”.
“It’s not wildly revisionist”, says Fripp. “Just wildly different. Dark Sovereign seldom gives Richard’s character more benefit of the doubt than you find in reliable histories. Dark Sovereign runs close to the northern counties’ long-held view of Richard as a benign, capable ruler: He was caught between a rock and a hard place in a smouldering civil war (England’s Wars of the Roses) that went up in flames. Dark Sovereign dramatises the snake-pit of that conflict with a human, not a demonic, face. It’s a stronger story without Shakespeare’s character assassination”. Why the word ‘Dark’ in the title? “It carries the sixteenth century sense that you find in dark horse and dark star,” says Fripp. “The word implies an unknown quality; and that is certainly true of Richard III, smeared with hostile propaganda for four centuries”.
Art historian Claude Marks, who moved from London to lecture at New York’s Metropolitan Museum, called Dark Sovereign “a cultural accomplishment of the highest order”. Not only that: Dark Sovereign is longer than Hamlet. Overnight it becomes the longest play written in Renaissance English.
“Many authors, including Shakespeare, Francis Bacon and the four teams of scholars who produced the King James Bible were writing in what we call ‘the Golden Age’ of the English language”, says Fripp. “It’s a beautiful language. It’s mine and it’s yours. It’s yours to read, too!” Fripp should know. As a boy, he won a choral scholarship into Salisbury Cathedral choir where he chanted and sang sixteenth century English for five years.
Fripp took an earlier foray into history using the language of that period. Introduced by novelist John Fowles, Fripp’s The Becoming, (Let There Be Life in North America), is an audacious retelling of the Genesis creation story from a scientific point of view. Later, in Power of a Woman. Memoirs of … Eleanor of Aquitaine, Fripp wrote the first-person memoirs of one of Europe’s most charismatic women. Now a copywriter and consultant at The Impact Group in Toronto, he will soon publish New Wessex Tales, a forthcoming short story collection set in his native English county, Dorset.
Visit RobertFripp’s official website for excerpts and reviews of several works.