Tending the Shakespeare canon these days is like being a cartographer in 1959; suddenly there were 50 states instead of the 48 you'd been mapping since 1912. There used to be ten William Shakespeare histories, but now there are eleven — or make that twelve.
Pacific Repertory Theatre of Carmel, California is presenting the American professional premieres of two "new" Shakespeare plays, Edward III, recently accepted into the canon, and Thomas of Woodstock, still considered apocryphal. Edward III, a chronicle of the beginning of the 100 Years War with Edward III and his son, the Black Prince, leading the fight against France, began performances Aug. 10 for a run through Oct. 14.
As early as 1987, English scholars were discussing Edward III as legitimate Shakespeare, even though it was published anonymously in 1596. Thomas of Woodstock, also published anonymously in the 1590s, has not reached that status yet. It will, however, play the Pacific Rep's Circle Theatre of the Golden Bough Sept. 7-Oct. 14, where viewers can make their own decisions about whether or not it is the work of the Bard.
Thomas of Woodstock tells of Woodstock, Duke of Gloucester and Lord Protector of England, one of Edward III's seven sons. His inaction in a time of crisis in the kingdom gets him murdered and sets off the War of the Roses. Shakespeare's Richard II begins where Woodstock would leave off – with the trial whose purpose is to discover the Duke's killers.
Tickets are $35-$18. The Circle Theatre of the Golden Bough is located on Casanova between 8th and 9th in Carmel. For reservations, call (831) 622-0100. Pacific Repertory Theatre is on the web at http://www.pacrep.org. — By Christine Ehren