FIU Students Reverse Engineer Anne Shakespeare


My recent visit to Florida International University in Miami included a special treat:  scenes from The Secret Confessions of Anne Shakespeare enacted by students in the FIU Theater Department.  Dr. Phillip Church, my FIU host, assigned his students to work in pairs to write three-minute scenes between Anne and Will, Anne and Kit Marlowe, Anne and Bess of Hardwick and so on.  The actors performed the scenes in class and as part of an evening program.

Here’s the really fun part:  The actors didn’t simply translate my prose into dramatic script.  Dr. Church instructed them to write their scenes in Elizabethan English, essentially reverse engineering the language to the 16th century.  This is how Anne and Will might actually have sounded when they spoke, courted, quarreled or agonized over some aspect of their plays.

Both the theater and English students had enthusiastic suggestions for actors to cast in the movie version of the book.  Here they are, along with other names that have been suggested to date:  (Are you listening, Hollywood?)

Anne – Keira Knightley, Anne Hathaway (think of the marketing possibilities), Helena Bonham Carter, Angelina Jolie, Cate Blanchett

Will – Jude Law, Don Cheadle

Kit Marlowe – James Franco, Shia LaBeouf, Johnny Depp

Ben Jonson – Jonathan Rhys-Myers

Bess of Hardwick – Helen Mirren, Judi Dench

Mr. Phipps – Michael Caine (yes!)

John Shakespeare – Tom Wilkinson

My deepest thanks to Dr. Phillip Church and the students, faculty and staff of FIU for a memorable visit.

Lecture at Frost Art Museum
Workshop with FIU theater students
Dr. Phillip Church and FIU actors