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Much ado about nothing..? Or did the Bard tread the boards in King’s Lynn

PUBLISHED: 15:34 29 August 2012 | UPDATED: 16:11 29 August 2012

A portrait of Shakespeare, who now looks certain to have performed in King's Lynn

A portrait of Shakespeare, who now looks certain to have performed in King's Lynn

Archant

It’s been rumoured for years that Shakespeare himself once performed in what is now an art gallery in Lynn. Now all’s well that ends well, as new research suggests its probably true.

For the wheel hath come full circle for Dr Matthew Woodcock, from the University of East Anglia, who has studied the movements across this sceptered isle by a troop of 16th Century travelling players.

“It’s really a kind of triangulation of evidence,” said Dr Woodcock. “Some of it’s archive, some of it’s textual and some of it’s circumstantial as well.”

For lowliness is young ambition’s ladder, as the Bard himself observed. And the young Shakespeare was part of a company called the Earl of Pembroke’s Men after their patron.

“We know that King’s Lynn was a popular place for travelling players,” said Dr Woodcock.

"There’s a strong case for placing Shakespeare with this playing company in King’s Lynn at this time."

Dr Matthew Woodcock, from the UEA

“There’s a record of a playing group called the Earl of Pembroke’s men. We’ve got a record of their being in King’s Lynn and being paid in 1592 and 1593.

“We know that Shakespeare was very deeply involved with that playing company at that time. There’s a strong case for placing Shakespeare with this playing company in King’s Lynn at this time.”

All that glisters may not be gold. Yet the Shakespearean legend has already been commemorated at King’s Lynn Arts Centre.

A gallery now named the Shakespeare Barn was used as a theatre in the late 1500s.

King’s Lynn Arts Centre director Liz Falconbridge said: “This really is the most exciting news. We have always been proud of the supposed connection with Shakespeare, but now we really can promote the venue using this academic research.”

Dr Woodcock will be doing just that on Thursday, September 6 (7.30pm), when he introduces a film called Anonymous, which suggests Shakespeare’s plays were really written by someone else. Tickets priced £5 are available from the box office on 01553 764864.


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