A LITTLE-known speech purportedly penned by Shakespeare has inspired a short film about the refugee crisis after the director heard it recited on a Russel Brand podcast.
The speech appears in the The Book of Thomas More – a biographical play recalling riots sweeping Britain after foreigners flocked to its shores 500 years ago – and is the only surviving work believed to be handwritten by the Bard himself.
The play is thought to have have been written by Anthony Munday and Henry Chettle and revised by several writers, and it
is now widely believed among scholars that Shakespeare was responsible for a three-page handwritten revision featuring the speech.
In the play Thomas More – the Lord Chancellor of England who was later beheaded by Henry VIII – appeals to the shared humanity of the mobs and the French Protestant refugees seeking asylum.
The play was never staged for fear it would stir up racial animosity.
Director Peter Trifunovic was struck by the speech after he heard it recited by Warwick University professor Tony Howard – a guest on the podcast episode entitled Shakespeare and Power.
Feeling inspired, the 28-year-old phoned in to speak to Prof Howard and outlined his plan for his short film ‘The Strangers’ Case’.
The film – set in a Leeds pub – sees punters confronted by tabloid headlines and prejudice, until Thomas More, played by Asian actor Ibrahim Knight, calls for peace, compassion and understanding.
Peter said: “The prospect of dramatising the speech in a contemporary setting with a British Asian actor in the lead role was very exciting to me.
“My hope is that the film it is seen by a large, young audience, who may have never heard Shakespeare before, and that they are engaged and entertained. For older audiences I hope that the film inspires empathy. I am so glad I heard Tony Howard on the Russell Brand podcast.”
Prof Howard was impressed with the film.
He added: “The Strangers’ Case could not be more relevant. The speech is extraordinary. It speaks across the centuries. Donald Trump should listen to it today.”
The film which has been supported by a grant from the university is also being entered into this summer’s Shakespeare Film Festival competition.
Search The Stranger’s Case on Youtube to watch the film.