UNT professor premieres play about controversial scholar
What: The Lady Revealed, a play written by Professor of Theatre History, Play Analysis and Playwriting Andrew B. Harris
When: 7:30 p.m. April 11-13; 2 p.m. April 14
Where: Studio Theatre in the RTFP Building, 1179 Union Circle, Denton
Tickets: $5 general admission; Tickets can be ordered with a credit card over the phone by calling 940-565-2428 or Metro 817-267-3731 ext. 2428. The box office is located in the RTFP building in the first floor lobby of the University Theatre (room 104). The box office accepts cash, checks and credit cards.
A scholar who shocked the world with his revelation about the identity of the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets lived a life of turmoil and controversy himself, making him a fascinating subject for UNT Department of Theatre and Dance professor Andrew B. Harris’s play The Lady Revealed.
In 1973, A.L. Rowse revealed that Emilia Bassano Lanier (1569-1645) was the Dark Lady of Shakespeare’s sonnets. The son of a semi-literate Cornish clay worker, Rowse fought his way up the academic ladder at Oxford. Although he knew he would always be an outsider by birth, politics and sexual orientation, he expected his brilliance and creativity would earn him national recognition as the man who solved the problems of the sonnets. Instead, his discoveries brought him turmoil.
“He was highly controversial for his claims about the sonnets and well-known for his spellbinding lectures and strong personality,” Harris said.
The play takes place in three time periods – in 1993, on Rowse's 90th birthday; the 1970s, when Rowse made his famous claims about the Dark Lady; and the Elizabethan era, in which the audience sees Shakespeare and the Dark Lady as Rowse imagined them.
While researching another play he wrote years ago, Harris came upon Rowse’s work and became intrigued by the scholar. A prolific writer – author of 105 books – Rowse was convinced that Lanier was the Dark Lady. In a series of Shakespearean sonnets printed in 1609, three unidentified characters are mentioned, described only as the Patron, a Rival Poet and a Dark Musical Lady. While many scholars believe the patron to be Henry Wriothesley and the rival poet to be Christopher Marlowe, historically there was little agreement about the lady. Today, however, even descendants of the Bassano family agree that Lanier must be the Dark Lady.
Coincidentally, in reaching out to the Bassano family in Europe, Harris found that there are Texas Bassanos who arrived in 1850 and now live in Dallas and Paris, Texas. The family members from Paris plan to attend the April 11 opening of the production, Harris said.
Associate Professor of Acting and Voice Sally Vahle directs the production. The music is being composed by College of Music student Daniel Sabzghabaei. UNT students are designing the set, costumes, lighting and props – and, of course, acting, which gives students great experience, Harris said
“The fact that the students are originating roles that have never been performed before gives them a valuable opportunity to truly start from scratch and place their mark upon the play as it evolves,” he said.
Following the play’s premiere, professional productions will likely follow, Harris noted, adding that audiences at UNT’s production will have bragging rights.
“How special is it to be able to say, ‘I saw the world premiere of The Lady Revealed,’” Harris said.
The Lady Revealed premieres at 7:30 p.m. April 11-13 and 2 p.m. April 14 in the Studio Theatre in the RTFP Building, 1179 Union Circle, Denton. General admission tickets are $5. Tickets can be ordered with a credit card over the phone by calling 940-565-2428 or Metro 817-267-3731 ext. 2428. The box office is located in the RTFP building in the first floor lobby of the University Theatre (room 104). The box office accepts cash, checks and credit cards.