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Did Shakespeare help shelter Catholics while living in Lancashire?
A NEW play is set to investigate whether William Shakespeare helped shelter Roman Catholics while he lived in Lancashire.
Many historians agree that the legendary playwright lived at Hoghton Tower before he wrote his plays.
And a new production, Will at the Tower, to be performed at the Tudor hall, suggests the young Bard might have helped to protect supporters of the Pope at a time when they were treated with suspicion during Elizabeth I’s reign.
The Hoghton family, who lived at the Tower for hundreds of years, were staunch Catholics and historians say they often sheltered activists from the authorities.
Pete Hartley, from Preston-based Uneasy Theatre, who wrote the play, said: “Our research led us to very dark conclusions.
“If Shakespeare was there he cannot have been ignorant of the anti-government activity and some academics have even suggested that was the reason for his visit.
“Traditions say he was there as a singer or player or as a tutor.
"If it was the latter then he would have been teaching within a tradition that was dangerously at odds with the Queen’s policies.”
The play, which features 16-year-old Andrew Hawarden in the role of Shakespeare, mixes fiction and fact.
But Mr Hartley said researching, writing and producing it had thrown up dozens of interesting questions.
He added: “It is not beyond the realms of possibility that Shakespeare was considering a career in Catholic insurgency.
“If he had followed that path his career would have been a short one, and his fame would have been considerably less than it is.
“Perhaps Hoghton was the place where he changed his mind – and what a mind to change.”
Will at the Tower is on at Hoghton Tower on February 18 and 19. For tickets, priced £12, and more information call 01254 852986 or email email@example.com.
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