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Independent Shakespeare Company

Shakespeare Forger Gets His Day on Stage

Old-Fashioned Solemn Mockeries playbillThe company behind the Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival in Los Angeles is bringing a little false Shakespeare to the theater public with the world premiere of the one-man play Solemn Mockeries about William Henry Ireland.

In the last decade of the 18th century, Ireland, in an attempt to gain his father's favor, forged a document signed by his father's favorite writer, William Shakespeare. His "discovery" made him a star, and soon he was discovering many more lost documents and artifacts that had belonged to Shakespeare, including a full-length play, Vortigern, which was performed at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1796, a production that resulted in rioting. Ireland carried out the ruse for many years before other scholars discovered the fraud.

Written by Richard Creese, Solemn Mockeries features David Melville playing Ireland looking back on his 20-year career as a forger with self-deprecating wit and mockery at the prominent scholars and "inflated egos" who had believed him. Jeffrey Wienckowski directs.

Solemn Mockeries runs at the Independent Studio, 3191 Casitas Ave., No. 168, Atwater Village, Los Angeles, on weekends from Feb. 16 to March 10.

February 8, 2013

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