Friday, May 9, 2014

Hank Whittemore: Shake-speare’s Treason!

Men can always be blind to a thing, so long as it’s big enough – Chesterton

Special Performance of Hank Whittemore’s one man show, co written and directed by Ted Story,  Shake-speare’s Treason set for Videotaping with Live Audience on June1st at the Hudson House in Nyack.
Based on Hank's book The Monument and its companion synopsis-book Shakespeare's Son and His Sonnets.
Hank Whittemore is author of one novel and ten nonfiction books including his 900-page breakthrough work The Monument (2005), for which he received the Excellence in Scholarship Award from the Shakespeare Authorship Studies Centre at Concordia University in Portland OR.

Hank grew up in Larchmont, graduating from Mamaroneck High. Already, he knew that he desired to be an actor. He was in some of the high school plays, Arsenic and Old Lace, for example.
He went off to Notre Dame as part of the theatre department. Already, he was studying acting with Herbert Berghof  in New York City and he had appeared in summer stock in Mount Kisco and up in Sarasota Springs. He quit college mid stream although he was acting in the college theatre. He tried out for the Actor's Studio and got a call back. He didn't go to the callback because he got cast in a Broadway show, Take Her, She's Mine with Art Carney and Phyllis Thaxter and Elizabeth Ashley.
Hank in Shake-speare’s Treason
He got fired midway through the rehearsal period. 
Ashley was older than Hank was and she felt that whoever was playing her fiance should look closer to her age. Hank eventually came back to the show later on and managed to eventually graduate from Notre Dame. He went on from there to continue acting here and there. He also loved to write. He took several writing jobs until he left Notre Dame.
He started reporting, which he loves, in the Westchester papers, first in Mount Kisco, and then in White Plains. By the time he was twenty eight, he was working on his first book, The Man Who Ran the Subways, the story of Mike Quill.

He was an Irish labor leader, boss of the subway union, and Hank wanted to call it The Judge Can Drop Dead, but the publishers didn't allow that. 
That book opened the door for Hank and his second book was called Cop!: A Closeup of Violence And Tragedy . Hank rode around with policemen. Life Magazine excerpted it. All of this set Hank on his way as a book author. He wrote on all kinds of different subjects. One was The Super Cops. It was a best seller which was made into an MGM movie, directed by Gordon Parks and starring Ron Leibman.
He also wrote a book about a woman and her search and rescue dogs, Caroline Hebard. He wrote a book on science called Your Future Self: A Journey to the Frontiers of Molecular Medicine.
Hank's writing.continued for several other books. Meanwhile, he also had a television career and a Parade Magazine career. He had about a hundred cover stories. Along the way, for seven years, three months out of every year writing for American Sportsman.
He also wrote a couple of Body Human shows winning a couple of Emmys in the process. He worked on many documentaries, for Nova and for PBS and for Phil Donahue, Phil Donahue Examines the Human Animal. It goes on and on!
Hank loved all of it. He got involved with what was called interactive video at the time in the early 90s. Of course, computers were starting to roll out at that time. They were able to lead us into the future. Hank produced videos for The Baseball Hall if Fame which ran for ten years and various other programs.
How did all of this bring Hank to Treason?
He loved Hamlet. He played Laertes and understudied Hamlet at Notre Dame. Over the years, he could "walk the river", so to speak and recite all the soliloquies. He thought of Hamlet as his friend.Hamlet is every possible shade of color, character, character, emotions, words, and humor.
Hank was starting to find out that there had been a real-life Hamlet at the Elizabethan royal court.
He had been the patron and guide to virtually all the Elizabethan writers who led up to the first appearance of the name "Shakespeare".  During the previous fifteen years, de Vere had brought plays to court just as Prince Hamlet had done.  He had the same family relations -- Polonius in Hamlet represents his father-in-law, William Cecil, the powerful Lord Burghley, while Ophelia represents his wife, Anne Cecil, daughter of Burghley -- and the links between Hamlet and the Earl of Oxford's own life went on and on!
Hank was living in Portland, Maine and was writing one act plays and still doing his Parade stuff. One play that Hank was writing, he wanted to set it in the White House.
He knew very little about The White House's inner workings. He HAD been there covering The White House for a couple of magazine articles. He began to wonder, "How did Shakespeare be so confident about writing about the inside of the court?" He knew the history. He knew the way in which people spoke and reacted to one another and all of the political ramifications. Hank read five of the best known great biographies of Shakespeare. These biographies dated back to the early 1900s and even into the 19th century to the present date. Hank was trying to find out what Shakespeare's creative process was. He couldn't find anything. He couldn't find anything but a ghostly figure.
At one point, one of Hank's one act plays was being produced in a workshop. This was before he won a play contest in a little theatre down in Alexandria. The lead actor was Charles Boyle. They got to know each other and he asked Hank what he's been reading and Hank told him about the Shakespeare biographies and why. When Charles asked Hank what he learned, Hank said, "Absolutely nothing." He couldn't believe it.
Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford: William Shakespeare's plays were allegedly written by. Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.
Charles asked, What if there was a man in the Elizabethan Court and he really did write about the inside of the palaces and court because he really did know that? Don't writers write what they know? Hank thought that in his experience that that was true.
Polonius,(Oliver Ford Davies, pictured in BBC's Hamlet)  is Chief Advisor to King Claudius and his right-hand man. He's entrusted with keeping a close watch on Hamlet
Writing in literature, a writer draws on his experience and then they try and harness that to their imagination.
John William Waterhouse's painting Ophelia (1894)

Hank began to develop a parallel career. That's when that happened and he hasn't looked back.
Hank knew that the sonnets were the one place, aside from the dedications to the Earl of Southampton that were public. The private sonnets were using the personal pronoun, "I". He realized that it could have been a fictional "I", but he doubted it. There is such intensity in the sonnets. Hank realized that if anyone could realize what was going on in the sonnets, they could probably figure out whether or not Edward de Vere was really Shakespeare.
He had all of the qualifications and was  in the right places at the right time.
Besides, by the time Shakespeare appeared in 1593, Edward de Vere was 43 and had a history. You could have apprenticeship and development leading to this Shakespeare that comes out with Venus and Adonis and The Rape of Lucrece, masterpieces of narrative poetry.
The Sonnets would possibly be the answer. It took Hank ten years. He thought he would never be able to crack it. He actually got away from it for two years to write the science book, The Future Self. When he came back to it, it was sort of like his unconscious had been working, and all of a sudden, he found a key to the sonnets. He is totally convinced that it is correct because it answers all of the questions and it keeps yielding more information, even through the course of this interview. There is more information constantly coming out.
It took Hank five/six years, here in Nyack, writing The Monument. This is his full edition of the sonnets, based on his discoveries.

Hank married his wonderful wife, Glo Janata, in 2000 and their son, Jake, was born in 2003.  He finished the book in 2005. 
Check out The Monument website and also a site that was originally put up in for the show, which Hank performed more recently at Rockland Community College in Suffern, NY.

  “A ripping tale of murder, treason, hangings, bastardy, love, betrayal and danger … and one of those Big Thoughts that, if you embrace it, seems to clear up a lot of mystery.” – Bill Varble, The Mail Tribune, Medford Oregon (where Hank performed the show on the campus of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival)
Order the text of the spellbinding 90-minute one-man show dramatizing the story within the Sonnets of Shakespeare as told in "The Monument" by Hank Whittemore, who has performed it around the U.S. and England.

Please join us June 1st when June will TRULY be busting out all over!
Thank you Hank Whittemore for the gifts you have given to the world and continue to give!
With grateful XOXOXs ,

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