Don Fried — Playwright & Author

Shakespeare Incorporated



Shakespeare Incorporated won first-place in the  2009 Rocky Mountain Theatre Association Festival Playwriting Competition.  The competition was open to playwrights from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana.  It has been produced in London, California and Colorado.


The lights come up on what appears to be a scene from an Elizabethan play. When the hero pulls out a squirt gun and soaks the villain, we discover that the actors are taking part in a current day theatrical house-party in Wilton House, the ancestral home of the Earls of Pembroke. The participants are all descendants of William Shakespeare and other authors who are rumored to have had some part in writing Shakespeare’s works — Christopher Marlowe, Francis Bacon, Ben Jonson, Edward de Vere, Mary Sydney and William Stanley. Mary, the owner of the house shows Christopher a manuscript that she has found in her attic, which purports to be a true account of how Shakespeare’s works were written.

Marlowe, still in Elizabethan costume from the play scene, begins to read the manuscript and without warning, we are in the Mermaid Tavern in 1593, where he meets the hopelessly untalented aspiring young writer, William Shakespeare. Shakespeare convinces Marlowe to help him with his writing, and Marlowe begins composing “Venus and Adonis.” De Vere and Stanley come looking to hire Marlowe to polish de Vere’s brilliantly conceived but poorly executed plays. For various reasons, none of the three can use their own names, so they decide to use the oblivious Shakespeare’s name as a front. The successful venture appears to be jeopardized by Marlowe’s death in a tavern brawl, but it is later revealed that the death was faked to keep Marlowe from going to prison.

Marlowe, now hidden in Wilton House and disguised as the Scottish academic, Newgate, continues to write, assisted by rest of “Shakespeare Unlimited” —  de Vere, Sydney, Stanley, and a growing army of consultants. Meanwhile, Shakespeare’s head has been turned by his growing fame and wealth and he constantly seeks a bigger piece of the proceeds.

Francis Bacon and Ben Jonson, who are jealous of Shakespeare’s success, come to Wilton House with Queen Elizabeth to meet the Bard. Queen Elizabeth quickly realizes that Shakespeare couldn’t be writing such brilliant works, and there is some sort of cover-up. To the delight of Shakespeare Unlimited, she decides that Bacon is the true author.

Bacon becomes increasingly frustrated with his rumored status as a successful playwright, a status from which he derives no benefit, and convinces Shakespeare to let him “franchise” the name to a host of other writers. The principals of Shakespeare Unlimited are angered by the degradation of the reputation they worked so hard to create, and consider what they can do to end Shakespeare’s career — even murdering him. At the same time, a jealous Ben Jonson is intentionally ruining Shakespeare’s health by taking him on drinking bouts in bad weather. In the end, it is unclear whether Shakespeare Unlimited or Ben Jonson is responsible for Shakespeare’s death.

At the play’s conclusion, we are again in the present day, where the descendents prepare to continue the battle on their ancestors’ behalf.

14 Responses to "Shakespeare Incorporated"

[…] 12, 2008 Shakespeare Incorporated, Don’s play about the “truth” behind who really wrote Shakespeare’s plays, […]

[…] Festival. The competition was open to playwrights from Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana. Click Here to go to Don’s Website and see the synopsis of “Shakespeare […]

Hi Don,

I would love to see your play ‘Shakespeare Incorporated’, it sounds like a hoot. Do you plan to publish it in the near future, perhaps on-line?
I am researching Brenda James’ theory that Henry Neville was Shakespeare. I have found many interesting encryptions in the 1609 Edition of the Sonnets and the long poem, “A Lovers Complaint’. I am currently writing a book of my findings, with a play (historical fiction) at the center of the book (The plays the thing…) concerning 21 year old Henry Neville’s first meeting, in 1584, with 10 year old Henry Wriothesley at Lord Burghley’s House (Southampton became a ward of Burghleys in 1581 at the age of 8, after his father died), when he visited Lord Burghley with his fiance Anne Killigrew, Lord Burghley’s niece. When you consider that the Shakespeare plays were to appear very soon after this meeting (late 1580s) and that Wriothesley and Neville were lifelong associates (friends?), this meeting could have been the ‘begetting of these insuing sonnets’, where Mr. W.H. became the pseudonym Master Wily Hews for young Henry Wriothesley as he enacts sonnets 1-17, in drag, written by Neville/Shakespeare, for the Dark Lady, 21 year old Penelope Rich, to attempt to entice her brother, 17 year old Robert Devereux, the Earl of Essex, to marry before he foolishly rushes off to battle, potentially leaving himself heirless.
I am a novice writer, but I have 15,000 words written in the play, and over 50 pages concerning my decryptions. I am wondering if you did any research for ‘Shakespeare Incorporated’ that dealt with Henry Neville, and if you did, what impression you had with his potential as the author.


David Ewald


How is your book and play progressing? I am also very interested in the Neville case and collect any information I can. Do you know if Brenda James is still writing/collating evidence? I have also read all of John Casson’s books and articles and I am amazed at the amount of corroborative material so far discovered. I find it hard to believe that more historians and scholars aren’t taking the case more seriously in the light of the sheer amount of material that has come to light over the last 10 years or so. Be fascinated to know if you have turned up anything else in recent years.

Best wishes,


No productions of “Shakespeare Inc.” for the past 2 years. My other plays, however, are going great guns, including two other historically-based pieces, one about Elizabeth Bathory (“Blood Prvilege”) and one inspired by the life, death, and rise to fame after death of Nick Drake (“Phoenix”). “Blood Privilege” was produced in London this past March, and “Phoenix” is scheduled for London this coming January.
I haven’t been doing anything — research or writing — related to the Shakespeare authorship issue. My friend Alain English, whom I met during the premiere of “Shakespeare Inc.,” keeps up with developments much more than I do. Look him up on Facebook, and I’m sure he’d be delighted to give you the latest.
Regards, Don


Sorry I haven’t kept up with this blog, but I have recently been contributing to the Casson biographies on Neville. I have found a vast amount of information concerning his authorship, and John has been very generous in listening to me. I hope to appear in his future efforts.

Best wishes,

David Ewald

Thanks for reaching out to me again. It looks as though there may be a production of “Shakespeare Incorporated” in a major theater in Beijing in May/June, 2016. Keep your fingers crossed for me.
Regards, Don


Thanks for your note. I’ll send you an email directly to respond to the academic aspects. The play will be produced in London, opening March 5th. (See the “Upcoming Productions” tab on my website.) Perhaps you could make it down to see it. I’m considering having it published, but I’m waiting until after the first two productions to submit it.

Regards, Don

[…] 22, 2010 There were fantastic articles on the premieres of Postville and Shakespeare Incorporated this past weekend:  Friday in the Longmont Times Call and Sunday in the Boulder […]

[…] one-page synopsis of Shakespeare, Inc. is available on Fried’s website. The tale begins: The lights come up on what […]


That is good news indeed. Good luck!


Is your book progressing? I saw some of your sonnets research in John Casson’s new book ‘Sir Henry Neville was Shakespeare’.
Tony minchin

Dear Tony,

That book has been set aside indefinitely, but I have written another play entitled: “The Merry Wives of Windsor’s Metamorphosis of a Jack” that is currently being considered by the American Shakespeare Company at the Blackfriars Playhouse in Staunton, VA. I hope to receive their decision within the next month. Thank you for your interest!

If you read the Seven Ages of Man speech carefully you will find it to be a concise form of Ring Composition that even has a chiastic prologue a few speeches earlier when Duke Senior states to Orlando: “your gentleness shall force more than your force move us to gentleness”. The gentle infant grows into the forceful soldier who then returns to gentleness, sans everything. What did you think of our Ring Composition article?

The supposedly missing lines of Sonnet 126 represented by the two pairs of parentheses are there in the 1609 imprint. Can you “see” them.

Best wishes,


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: