Thursday, 22 September 2016

The Elizabethan Theatre: An Arena of Political Incorrectness and a Lesson for our Times

The following text is a transcript of a speech I gave a few years ago at a meeting of the National Front. Although I am not a member of any political party, I am happy to speak at any meeting where the organisers are committed racial nationalists. My role, as I see it, is, in my own small way, to educate and cultivate those who have been failed by the Marxist-Liberal education system.

 

I wish to talk today about the Elizabethan theatre. Why the Elizabethan theatre? There are many reasons, which I will come to later on, but one is because it was a time when we had a homogenous society and a natural, organic culture and a theatre as good as that of the ancient Greeks. Incidentally, it’s nice to see the rise of the Golden Dawn in Greece and perhaps it will only be fitting if the European revival is born in the place that was the cradle of European civilization.

 

 I have a book here called Six Elizabethan Plays and yet only one of them is actually Elizabethan; the others are Jacobean, in other words, from the reign of James I, who reigned after Elizabeth. This is an old book and the Jacobean was often lumped in with the Elizabethan. These days, if they want to lump them together, they talk about the Renaissance stage – but I’m against lumping them together at all, because, while there are stylistic similarities between the two, there are also great differences.

 

If we look at Jacobean theatre first, the newer playhouses themselves were pretty much for the rich: they were quite luxurious places with full covering and were all-seater, and so charged a higher entry fee. In contrast, although some of these playhouses existed, most theatres in Elizabethan times were open-air affairs, ringed by galleries for the hoi-polloi; so the lower classes would go and pay a penny to go into the pit, as it was called, and the better-fed members of society would pay about five times as much to go into the covered galleries – although some would still go into the pit, because, while the play was being staged, there would be other activities going on there beneath the stage, like cock fighting, gambling and wrestling. On the whole, then, Jacobean theatres were more like the theatres we have now, but Elizabethan theatres were quite different and for all members of society. Going to the theatre was like going to the cinema now. That is an important fact and one I will be coming back to later.

 

As theatre became more of a bourgeois affair, two things happened: less lower class characters were included and plots involving them were omitted (lower class characters mostly spoke in prose of course, because the peasantry at that time were largely illiterate and would have had difficulty understanding the poetry of the high-born characters. The other thing was that plays became les moral, less didactic, and this to me reflects the fact that the mercantile class that would go on to form the upper-middle class and become the new ruling elite did not want to be given moral instruction and wanted something more complicated in terms of the play’s denouement and resolution, so that they could chatter about it afterwards. Instead of having things given to you in black and white, you discuss which of the shades of grey you are given are the darkest. According to a recent work of mainstream porn-lit, there are, apparently, fifty.

 

But there is a problem with that, because you are getting away from a cultural text’s primary function, which is to define who you are and you are not, to identify potential  dangers to your people as well as who your enemies and allies are, and to give purpose, structure and meaning to your people. The more you get away from that, the more you leave yourself open to having your values undermined – and eventually, you can end up with the kind of texts you now see on the BBC, which actually purposefully attack the identity and values of our own tribe.

 

Now the Elizabethan theatre had several great playwrights: Thomas Dekker, Robert Greene, Thomas Kyd, George Chapman, George Peele and so on; but I’m going to concentrate on two: William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. Everyone in Britain, of course, knows Shakespeare even if only as a name, but Marlowe is less well known and there are reasons for that, despite him being at least as good a playwright as Shakespeare.

 

Little is actually known about these playwrights, their opinions, views and philosophy of life; it is not like nowadays where anyone even remotely famous is interviewed and scrutinised by the press in minute detail in what’s become a sort of mass voyeurism. We do know, however, how Kit Marlowe died: he was stabbed in a bar fight. Can you imagine Kenneth Brannagh getting into a brawl in a pub? As I said, the theatre was not the effete parlour for luvvies it is now.

 

Because we don’t know their opinions outside of their works, it has left their texts open to left-liberal interpretation. That’s why, for example – and we’re going to look at The Merchant of Venice – in Michael Radford’s film with Al Pacino as Shylock, Shylock is portrayed as a sympathetic character who is abused by Christians. In fact, the film begins and ends with a montage of Christians abusing Jews. It’s funny; I keep rereading the play, but I can’t find that anywhere in the text. Of course, Michael Radford himself is Jewish and he has reinterpreted the play – including rewriting parts of it – as propaganda for his own community. All art has an element of propaganda to it. Let that never be forgotten.

 

Therefore, I’m going to look at the illiberal aspects of these two playwrights to demonstrate why they cannot be assimilated by left-liberalism, and to do that, I’m going to focus on the interwoven subjects of race and ethnicity. Race is really looked at in four of Shakespeare’s plays: Titus Andronicus, Othello, The Tempest and The Merchant of Venice. Titus Andronicus is probably Shakespeare’s first play, written in collaboration with Robert Greene, and is quite crude: there is a lot of gratuitous violence, including the rape and mutilation of Lavinia, Titus’ daughter. Bear in mind though, that you would never see such an act on the stage. Even the scene where Gloucester’s eyes are gouged out in King Lear would be performed with his back to the audience.

 

Contrast that with today’s Hollywood films, where you would see every gory detail, which is, of course, deliberately done to create an appetite for voyeurism for sex and violence and particularly sexual violence and to desensitise people to these acts beyond mere titillation. That’s why, when the masses get to hear about Asian pack attacks and rape gangs, there is no moral outrage. There is also a sense that if the victim is white – as they almost invariably are – they have somehow deserved it because of colonialism or slavery or racism or some such excuse, and that’s because of the propaganda they are fed in these films – and Django Unchained is the latest.

 

Titus Andronicus is a simple revenge tragedy. Titus comes back from successful campaigns against the Germans to a hero’s welcome in Rome. The emperor has just died and the public demand Titus become the new emperor, but Titus refuses, deferring to Saturninus, the old emperor’s son, whose character makes him unfit to rule, as his name suggests. Titus has lost many sons in the wars and so, as is customary, he sacrifices the eldest and strongest son of the Queen of the Germans, Tamora. This sets off the cycle of revenge in which Tamora’s two remaining sons rape and mutilate Titus’ daughter Lavinia and Titus kills Tamora’s sons, cooks them and feeds them back to their mother. The two sons are allowed to do this because they are integrated into Roman society because Tamora marries the new emperor Saturninus. The play, we remember, is from the earlier Elizabethan period and there is a primary didactic message here that you do not bring barbarians into your gates – a moral which rings very true today.

 

Tamora also has a lover, Aaron, who is a blackamoor and pure evil personified. This he even acknowledges himself:


But I have done a thousand dreadful things
And willingly as one would kill a fly,
And nothing grieves me heartily indeed
But that I cannot do a thousand more.

Tamora is using Aaron to exact revenge upon Titus and the rape of Lavinia is his idea. There are always notions of sexual violence attached to Shakespeare’s black characters. Even in a later Jacobean play like The Tempest, Caliban, the deformed slave of Prospero, boasts of how he attempted to rape Prospero’s daughter, Miranda. Caliban is the original inhabitant of the desert island that Prospero and Miranda are stranded upon and is born of the Algerian sorceress Sycorax and the devil, and is therefore, like Aaron, evil incarnate. The fact that Caliban is Prospero’s slave is never critiqued then; it’s his proper position. This is the scene in which Prospero, Miranda and Caliban recount Caliban’s enslavement and attempt at rape:


CALIBAN: This island’s mine, by Sycorax my mother, Which thou tak’st from me: when thou cam’st first, Thou stroakst me and made much of me, wouldst give me Water with berries in’t, and teach me how To name the bigger light, and how the less, That burn by day and night: and then I lov’d thee And shew’d thee all the qualities o’ th’ isle, The fresh springs, brine-pits, barren place and fertile: Cursed be I that did so! All the charms Of Sycorax, toads, beetles, bats, light on you! For I am all the subjects that you have, Which first was mine own king: and here you sty-me In this hard rock, whiles you do keep from me The rest o’ th’ island.
PROSPERO: Thou most lying slave, Whom stripes may move, not kindness! I have us’d thee, (Filth as thou art) with human care, and lodg’d thee In mine own cell, till thou didst seek to violate The honour of my child.
CALIBAN: O ho, O ho! would’t had been done! Thou didst prevent me, I had peopl’d else This isle with Calibans.
MIRANDA: Abhorred slave, Which any print of goodness wilt not take, Being capable of all ill: I pitied thee, Took pains to make thee speak, taught thee each hour One thing or other: when thou didst not (savage) Know thine own meaning, but wouldst gabble, like A thing most brutish, I endow’d thy purposes With words that made them known. But thy vild race (Though thou didst learn) had that in’t which good natures Could not abide to be with; therefore wast thou Deservedly confin’d into this rock, Who hadst deserv’d more then a prison.

Notice what Miranda says here: ‘thy vild (vile) race’. That’s not very progressive, is it? I have also noticed that many internet versions of the text have Prospero give Miranda’s speech, which, again, is a politicised reinterpretation of the text.

 

You note too the horror and critique of potential miscegenation. The same is true in Titus Andronicus, in which the full horror is realised, when Tamora gives birth to Aaron’s child and the nurse says:


A devil.
A joyless dismall, black, and sorrowful issue!
Here is the babe, as loathsome as a toad
Amongst the fair-fac’d breeders of our clime.

And in the play, everyone rejects the baby except Aaron. Even Tamora herself rejects it. And in Aaron’s words, when he talks about it in relation to miscegenation, there is Shakespeare’s moral warning:


Coal-black is better than another hue
In that it scorns to bear another hue.

In other words, it takes two whites to make a white and if you miscegenate, you risk destroying your own people.

 

Shakespeare is always against miscegenation. When you look for the moral in an Elizabethan play, you always look at who can be brought into society and who is excluded at the end of the play. In this one, Aaron is led away to be executed; all the German barbarians are killed; Titus kills his daughter as an act of mercy; Titus is himself killed and so too the corrupt emperor Saturninus. That’s quite a pile of bodies. Although not in the text, the play was always performed with a small coffin on the stage for Aaron’s baby. But order is finally restored by Titus’ remaining son, Lucius.

 

The play was very topical at the time, because Moroccan soldiers could be seen wandering the streets of London due to England’s alliance with Morocco at the time. They would have been looking to sow their wild oats. Elizabeth I, herself a keen theatre-goer, expelled them all in 1595. Did this play have anything to do with that?

 

Even in a later play like Othello, Othello cannot be integrated into society. That’s why it’s a tragedy, because no matter how noble he may be, he is always other and must remain outside, because at the beginning of the play, when Iago is shouting outside Desdemona’s father Brabantio’s window that his daughter has eloped with a beast, as he alludes to several animals, and insinuates that his daughter will produce half-breeds, the critique, even though it comes from the mouth of the play’s villain, is true if it were not true, the play wouldn’t work.

 

There is also a bitter irony that it is Desdemona’s father, Brabantio the politician, who brings Othello into Venetian society by hiring him as a mercenary against the Ottoman Muslims. In other words, Brabantio’s actions are revisited upon him, and when he complains to the Duke of Othello and Desdemona’s marriage, he hasn’t got a leg to stand on, because it was he who brought him into Venetian society in the first place.

 

Brabantio actually dies of a broken heart during the play, which is something left-liberal critics rarely discuss. Again, this rings true nowadays. How many times have you seen an old man, broken-hearted, wheeling his half-caste grandchild round in a pushchair? Another thing that is rarely looked at is the fact that Othello, ‘the great hero’, actually avoids fighting. His only act of violence throughout the play is the murder of Desdemona and when he draws his sword to attack Iago at the end of the play, he is swiftly disarmed by Montano, who is only a peripheral character and who takes his sword twice during the final act. This action is foreshadowed when Othello says ‘every punie whipster gets my sword’. All Othello’s tall tales of his heroism that he himself has told are suddenly put into question at the very end and the audience is forced to question how noble was the noble moor? Perhaps the answer is noble for a moor.

 

Othello would therefore be what is called in theatrical terms the miles gloriosus: the boastful soldier; it most be noted that there is a forerunner to this character in The Merchant of Venice in the Prince of Morocco, who displays the same character traits as Othello. He appears near the beginning, when three suitors try to win Portia’s hand in marriage by answering a riddle correctly. The Prince of Morocco fails and there’s a sigh of relief, both for the audience and for Portia, who says:

 

A gentle riddance. Draw the curtains, go.
Let all of his complexion choose me so.

The main premise of The Merchant of Venice is a simple one. Bassanio wishes to travel to compete in the contest for Portia’s hand in marriage, but doesn’t have the money, so his friend Antonio borrows it from Shylock the typical money-lending Jew. Antonio detests the Jews and Shylock knows it, so he gives him the money on condition that if he doesn’t pay it back in three months, he will have to give Shylock, very famously, a pound of his flesh. Antonio is confident he will be able to pay Shylock back on time because his merchant ships are to arrive in Venice in a few days’ time.

 

However, his ships are blown off course and so he has to pay the pound of flesh. But Shylock is told by the judge in the affair (who is Portia in disguise) that he can take the pound of flesh, but should he take a drop of blood, he will be executed. It renders the act impossible, of course, and not only is Antonio spared, but Shylock loses his fortune is forced to convert to Christianity into the bargain.

 

However, this is problematic and is never explored, for the play ends here. You remember what I said about who can be integrated into society at the end of a play. Well, Shylock is integrated through his conversion to Christianity. Shakespeare should have known better, because the model for The Merchant of Venice was Christopher Marlowe’s The Jew of Malta, which deals with the subject of Jews falsely converting to Christianity. The Jew here, Barabas, is actually mentioned in passing in The Merchant of Venice near the end.

 

The Jew of Malta, like Titus Andronicus, is a revenge tragedy. You note that both Barabas and Shylock are obsessed with revenge, a character trait which has always been associated with Jews, at least up until it was forbidden by hatecrime laws and political correctness – and who were the main instigators responsible for lobbying for these laws? Shylock shows his appetite for revenge in his famous speech:


…it will feed my revenge; he hath disgrac’d me, and hindred me half a million, laught at my losses, mockt at my gains, scorned my Nation, thwarted my bargains, cooled my friends, heated mine enemies, and what’s the reason? I am a Jew: Hath not a Jew eyes? hath not a Jew hands, organs, dimensions, senses, affections, passions, fed with the same food, hurt with the same weapons, subject to the same diseases, healed by the same means, warmed and cooled by the same Winter and Summer as a Christian is: if you prick us do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us do we not die? And if you wrong us shall we not revenge? If we are like you in the rest, we will resemble you in that. If a Jew wrong a Christian, what is his humility, revenge? If a Christian wrong a Jew, what should his sufferance be by Christian example, why revenge?

Four times in one speech, we have the word revenge. Contemporary critics use this speech to tell us that Shakespeare is actually critiquing Christian double standards and that Shylock’s criticism is true, but this is nonsense. Christian doctrine is specifically against taking revenge: ‘Vengeance is mine, saith the Lord’ – and you note in Titus Andronicus and The Jew of Malta that anyone who indulges in revenge is met with a tragic ending: that’s why they’re called revenge tragedies. Shylock’s life is spared because The Merchant of Venice is a comedy, but he still loses everything.

 

Barabas’ appetite for revenge is stirred when Selim Calymath, the Ottoman Sultan’s son comes to demand tribute from Ferneze, the Governor of Malta, who, in turn, demands the money from the Jewish population, who have grown exceedingly wealthy. Barabas refuses and so has all his property is seized and his house converted into a nunnery. However, Barabas has a pot of treasure hidden under the floorboards of his house, and so, to get at it, he has his daughter Abigail falsely become a nun.

 

He also goes into a frenzy of revenge, bringing about the deaths of the governor’s son Lodowick and his best friend Mathias, having his slave kill a friar and then framing another friar for his murder, poisoning all the nuns and aiding the invasion of Malta by the Turks. He even poisons his own daughter after she converts and takes up the habit genuinely, because she becomes increasingly horrified by her father’s actions.

 

What is interesting and different to The Merchant of Venice is the way in which Marlowe views the Jews, as not just a disparate ethnic group, but also a racial one, which can be seen in Barabas’ own words:


In spite of these swine-eating Christians,
(Unchosen nation, never circumcis’d,
Poor villains, such as were ne’er thought upon
Till Titus and Vespasian conquer’d us,)
Am I become as wealthy as I was.
They hop’d my daughter would ha’ been a nun;
But she’s at home, and I have bought a house
As great and fair as is the governor’s:
And there, in spite of Malta, will I dwell,
Having Ferneze’s hand; whose heart I’ll have,
Ay, and his son’s too, or it shall go hard.
I am not of the tribe of Levi, I,
That can so soon forget an injury.
We Jews can fawn like spaniels when we please;
And when we grin we bite; yet are our looks
As innocent and harmless as a lamb’s.

The key words here are ‘nation’, ‘tribe’ and ‘looks’. Of course, the word ‘looks’ alone can be ambiguous, but when used in conjunction with the other two, we know we are dealing with a race apart. Don’t forget that the word ‘nation’ has had its primary meaning changed over the last century; but its original meaning, as it is here in a play from the sixteenth century, is to do with birth, race and descent, just as the Jews believe they are ‘chosen’ by descent and race. This is, in my opinion, also why Lodowick and Mathias are met with a tragic ending, killing each other over the affections of the Jewess Abigail, for they have gone against their race.

 

Left-liberal critics of the play have pointed out that all parties in the play are criticised: Turks, Jews and Christians, and this is quite true. The Maltese are very much criticised. The two friars I mentioned, who come from rival denominations, are shown to be avaricious, both wanting to convert Barabas so they can get their hands on his wealth. The governor too is shown to be cowardly, which is underlined in the outrage shown by Martin del Bosco, Vice Admiral of the Spanish fleet:


Will knights of Malta be in league with Turks,
And buy it basely too for sums of gold?
My lord, remember that, to Europe’s shame,
The Christian isle of Rhodes, from whence you came,
Was lately lost, and you were stated here
To be at deadly enmity with Turks.

What leftist academics deliberately omit when the say that Marlowe criticises Jews, Turks and Christians equally is that they are critiqued differently: the Jews and Turks are critiqued for behaving like Jews and Turks, but the Christians in the play have forgotten their kinship and Christianity. Governor Ferneze has neglected his primary duty to defend Christendom and the two friars forget that, although they come from different denominations, they should both be brothers in race and religion and not coveting the favour of a Jew for worldly riches.

 

But Martin del Bosco also makes a grave mistake. In selling his captured Turkish slaves in Malta, he unwittingly creates another enemy within. Barabas buys one of the slaves, called Ithamore, whom Barabas uses to exact his revenge. The two are united by their hatred of Christians:


Why this is something: make account of me
As of thy fellow; we are villains both;
Both circumcised; we hate Christians both…

This play is just full of eternal truths, isn’t it? After Governor Ferneze’s refusal to pay tribute to the Turks (the jizya), Calymath invades the island. Barabas shows him the best way to enter Malta and attack by surprise, and so the governor and the Knights of Malta are quickly captured. Calymath gives Barabas governorship of the island as a reward and Ferneze and the knights are made slaves. But Barabas reasons that the people of Malta will assassinate him once Calymath leaves and so decides to double-cross Calymath and prepares a trap for him and his soldiers and tells Ferneze of his plans. Martin del Bosco then arrives with knights. Calymath is captured but Ferneze stops him from falling into Barabas’ trap, instead tricking Barabas himself into falling into his own vat of boiling oil, which is a nice crowd-pleaser.

 

A nice bit of fiction, you might think; but the character of Barabas is actually based on a real historical figure: Joseph Nasi, also called João Miguez and several other names, was a crypto-Jewish financier, who died just a decade before this play was written. His story is very similar, but it took place not in Malta but Cyprus. Nasi had his fortune confiscated by and was thrown out of Spain for his scheming by Charles V, who had knighted him, and Nasi found refuge in Portugal, before moving to the Netherlands, where lobbied for a revolt against the Spanish. He then invited the Ottoman attack on Cyprus while the Spanish were preoccupied with the rebellion. And that is how we lost Cyprus to the Islamic hordes.

 

You might be thinking by now that this speech is all very nice, but what relevance does it have to our situation now? Well, I’ll tell you. Aside from the moral lessons therein, and the tale of the enemy within is extremely relevant now, this is what Professor John Rogers at Yale University calls ‘cultural collateral’. He is a militant homosexual who attempts to claim John Milton for the extreme left. What does he mean by ‘cultural collateral’? He means that these great cultural icons from our past carry great authoritative weight and if you can get their texts to align with your politics, those politics themselves will carry that authoritative weight. That’s why Stephen Fry always refers to the words of various literary, cultural or historical figures when he’s making his debauched arguments. Now there are aspects of William Shakespeare’s plays that can be interpreted as left-liberal, but, as we have seen, there are many that are impossible to integrate into left-liberal ideology. Shakespeare is still to the right of UKIP, but Marlowe, Christopher ‘Kit’ Marlowe is one of us.

 

The fact is that if these two playwrights had lived and written their plays today, they would be sitting in prison now, after being sentenced to long stretches for so-called hatecrimes. This is why no great art is being produced today: because great art cannot be produced in a climate of intensely-policed political correctness, especially when that dogma of political correctness is imposed specifically to forbid any expression and thus organic culture that pertains to the native population.

 

There is also a very practical lesson from the Elizabethan theatre. Now I asked you to remember that the Elizabethan theatre was rather like the cinema now. Incidentally, Titus Andronicus was also made into a film with Anthony Hopkins as the eponymous character. But everything has been deconstructed, and Saturninus is portrayed as a blend of Hirohito and Hitler, Rome as a fascist dictatorship and his guards as muscle-bound skinheads. The director of the film is a certain Julie Taymore, who is, quite coincidentally, Jewish.

 

We don’t have such financial resources at our disposal to create such films, but in the 1960s, extreme leftist groups like Movement for a Democratic Society (you notice how they’re called ‘democratic’, even though they’re hard-core communists) created theatrical groups and put on pieces of street theatre and performed plays in run-down theatres. What I didn’t mention was that before the theatres were created, plays were put on in inns rather like this one, on stages not dissimilar to the one I’m standing on here.

 

Distributing leaflets is just one way of getting our message across, and it may not even prove to be the best. People want to be entertained and that box in the corner of every living room that spews out leftist propaganda twenty-four-seven has ceased to be that entertaining. We can give them their entertainment. Plays can be created that deliver our ideology well within the confines of the law. One of the most effective ways is through the use of satire; comedies are always the most effective because everyone loves a good laugh.

 

Many nationalists have become quite negative and dispirited and see this as a time of despair. But I don’t. I see this as a time of opportunity, where there is room to make a name for yourself and create your own niche within a fledgling movement like ours. Shakespeare and Marlowe are immortal. Ask yourself: what can you do to etch your name into the history books forever?

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