Updated: Nov 13, 2020
In 2001 I wrote my play, Nay, Remember Me! It was performed to full houses at the Royal Shakespeare Company's Other Place Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon and has since been revived several times by Malvern Theatre Players. In my play I tell the story of the printing of the First Folio; yesterday a copy of the First Folio was sold for 10 million dollars.
Still from the 2010 Malvern Theatre Players production of Nay, Remember Me! by Amelia Marriette. A Comedy Drama about the printing of the First Folio of 1623. Set design and director: Chris Bassett.
Mike Fray, Porter, Lucy Fothergill, Auctioneer and Chris Green, Porter. Photograph courtesy of Malvern Theatre Players.
I start my play in a modern-day auction house rather than an early 17th Century printing workshop. I focussed on the value of the First Folio (then worth only a mere 6 million dollars) because one of the reasons that Shakespeare is so valued culturally is because he is also a very valuable commodity - his works sell. On paper, on the stage, on the radio, in print and in universities and schools around the world, Mr William Shakespeare is always the hottest ticket in town. And moreover, no-one ever has to give him a dime or a penny.
Still from the 2010 Malvern Theatre Players production of Nay, Remember Me! by Amelia Marriette. A Comedy Drama about the printing of the First Folio of 1623. Set design and director: Chris Bassett. John Denham as William Shakespeare. Photograph courtesy of Malvern Theatre Players.
It seems very odd that Shakespeare's First Folio - the first collected work of any dramatist in Folio form ever to be produced - should at this exact moment in history fetch such a princely sum. When at this precise moment theatres are closing, going bankrupt, and the future of the arts is looking bleak indeed. It's odd because what we remember from history is the art, the plays, the poetry, the frescoes, the paintings, the great performances by star actors, dancers, and musicians. We don't remember or celebrate The Ten Great Excel Databases of the 1990s or The Five Most Wonderful PowerPoint Presentations of the Yuppie Generation. As we look back over the generations more often than not, we mark our cultural progress by the art that was produced before we were born. From Greek Tragedies and Comedies to the first cave paintings and onto the Sistine Chapel to Monet, Ella Fitzgerald to Pinter, we celebrate the human race by citing artistic achievements of great merit.
If ever there was a time to celebrate art and artists it is now - but let's not only remember and celebrate the dead ones - I know for a fact that Shakespeare would want us to remember the living and fight for the arts. I know that like most of you I miss going to the theatre, going to see live music, going to see great art. I will continue to write for the stage, like most writers and artists I am not willing or able to retrain or to reboot my skills because I know that Phoenix-like theatre and the arts will rise up again. There are 10 million economic reasons to support the arts. But, more importantly, there are 10 billion reasons to keep creative skills alive. How can we feed our imaginations or our souls if we don't have writers, actors, dancers, painters, musicians, jewellers, or poets to help us express our feelings - to help us cry to laugh and to feel?
Shakespeare isn't going away, and neither are artists.
Amelia Marriette Playwright of the Month for Stage Launch
To obtain a script and or a performance licence for Nay, Remember Me! please contact Lazy Bee Scripts. https://www.lazybeescripts.co.uk/Scripts/Script.aspx?iSS=3055
More information may be found at www.ameliamarriette.com/plays
News Article About the First Folio at Auction fetching 10 million dollars:
Amelia Marriette is the playwright on attachment for Malvern Theatre Players. To find out more about the Coach House Theatre in Malvern click below.
Malvern Theatre Players have the most wonderful costume hire department - even Zoom productions need to be in costume. Please visit their website for more information or phone 01684 569011 or email Chris Bassett firstname.lastname@example.org please write COSTUME HIRE in the subject line https://www.coachhousetheatre.co.uk/mtp-costume-props-hire/
Still from the 2010 Malvern Theatre Players production of Nay, Remember Me! by Amelia Marriette. A Comedy Drama about the printing of the First Folio of 1623.
Chris Green as John Heminges, John Denham as the Ghost of Shakespeare and Mike Fray as Henry Condell. Photograph courtesy of Malvern Theatre Players.