a disservice to the people

April 18,1989

Dear Ms. Woodruff,

We are loyal fans of Channel 2, and certainly believe in freedom of speech and of the media. Yet I must say that I feel the program tonight on Shakespeare was a disservice to the people and unworthy of Channel 2. It contained many inaccuracies and by implication, at least, many wrong statements. Let me cite just one.

To make a mystery out of the fact that no known manuscripts of the plays exist is just silly. Damned few play manuscripts of the time exist at all. They were not considered...of any importance. They were used in the theatre where they doubtless became marked up, soiled, and torn, ultimately to be disposed of. The lucky miracle for us is that a few printers saw some money in producing printed versions and did produce some of the plays in quarto. They were not much more highly regarded in their day than our comic books are now. After his death Shakespeare's fellow actors who evidently had some sense of the plays' true value published what they could gather in the Folio, a format which gave them some status, and which for plays was hitherto unheard of. Far more is known of Shakespeare the man than of any other playwright of the times. The "mystery" is the product of ignorant people and alas, gets perpetuated by those who give these people public exposure.

Sincerely yours,

Arleigh D. Richardson III

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