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Since You Asked: Shakespeare wrote little or nothing

I see the Oregon Shakespeare Festival is doing "A Midsummer Night's Dream" again. I know Shakespeare only wrote a certain number of plays, and if they do them all they are going to pop up again and again.

So I have two questions. How many times has the OSF done "A Midsummer Night's Dream," and how many plays did Shakespeare write?

— Chris M., Ashland

Shakespeare plays are like beach real estate, Chris. Last we heard they weren't making any more. (OK, "they" are making more beach real estate in places like Hawaii and Iceland, but they're both out of our price range.)

The OSF has done the popular comedy 10 times, the last time in 2003 in the outdoor Elizabethan Theatre. That's good for seventh place since 1935 in the OSF production sweepstakes. The champion is "Twelfth Night" with 15 productions, including one in Portland.

The second part of your question is a bit trickier. The number of plays in the Shakespeare canon is usually given as 37. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival includes "The Two Noble Kinsmen," bringing the number in its opinion to 38.

Two other plays, "Love's Labours Won" and the apparently lost "Cardenio," if accepted into the canon (and most authorities would not) would bring the number to 39 or 40. The plays "Edward III" and "Sir Thomas More" have also been put forward in whole or part as having been written by the Bard's hand.

And if by "Shakespeare" you mean the man from Stratford, there have long been those who would say he wrote nothing. Conspiracy theorists, ah, they are the ones who have their hand in everything, have put forward various authorship candidates over the years. The leading candidate today is Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

So we guess the answer is 37 or 38 or 40 or 42 or zero.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com. The volume of questions received prevents us from answering all of them.