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Shakespeare Center L.A. honors Hollywood figures, professor

September 22, 2011 |  9:14 am

When does an awards ceremony have the potential to turn into yet another skirmish (presumably a quite friendly one) in the long-running and probably never-to-be resolved debate over who wrote William Shakespeare’s plays?

Perhaps on Oct. 4 at Sony Studios, when the Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles presents the latest round of its Crystal Quill awards. Artistic director Ben Donenberg says the honor is for “scholars, patrons and artists whose work and philanthropy advances appreciation of the immediacy of Shakespeare’s plays.” The event doubles as a $250 per ticket fundraiser for the Shakespeare Center's play productions and educational programs.

This year's winners include Bert Fields, a prominent entertainment lawyer, and film director Roland Emmerich, whose “Anonymous,” opening Oct. 28, is a tale of political intrigue in Elizabethan England that revolves around the theory that Shakespeare was merely a front for a powerful nobleman who was the actual Bard.

Emmerich’s movie, which will be screened before the awards reception, points to Edward DeVere, the Earl of Oxford (played by Rhys Ifans, opposite Vanessa Redgrave’s Queen Elizabeth), as the true author.

Fields wrote a 2005 book on the authorship controversy,  “Players: The Mysterious Identity of William Shakespeare.”  According to Donenberg, Fields’ bet is not on DeVere, but on Lord William Stanley and Sir Francis Bacon, with a possible assist from the queen herself.

Poor old Will won't be without a potential champion. According to Donenberg, the evening’s third honoree, Martha Andresen, a professor of English for 34 years at Pomona College, "believes that Shakespeare wrote Shakespeare's plays. Imagine that!"

In 2006, as Andresen was retiring, Pomona College Magazine noted that the Shakespeare specialist had won the school’s Wig Distinguished Teaching Award seven times, the maximum number possible.

Each recipient will get a crystal trophy inside which is etched a quill that's writing a signature –- William Shakespeare’s.  Past winners have included Laura Bush for pushing the Shakespeare in American Communities initiative while she was First Lady, and director Baz Luhrmann for his film, “Romeo + Juliet.”


Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles' online bid for the Bard

Disaster flick auteur Roland Emmerich takes on William Shakespeare

Smoking guns and rat-a-tat language

-- Mike Boehm

Photo: Vanessa Redgrave and Rhys Ifans in "Anonymous." Credit: Columbia TriStar Marketing Group Inc.