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Podcast questions Shakespeare authorship

Courtesy photo Steven Sabel in his home studio in Grants Pass.

“Let’s go ask some questions.”

That is how Steven Sabel starts off every episode of his podcast, “Don’t Quill the Messenger,” about the William Shakespeare authorship question.

Sabel is part of the Shakespeare Oxford Fellowship, which is also the sponsor of his podcast, which believes that Shakespeare was a pseudonym and the person who really wrote his works was Edward de Vere, the 17th Earl of Oxford.

“We're trying to solve the greatest literary mystery of all time; who really penned these works, and is William Shakespeare truly a pseudonym?” Sabel said.

A typical episode is released once every two to three weeks. The hour-long episodes feature a conversation with a guest. Although Sabel lives in Grants Pass, most of his guests do not, so the majority of the conversations are conducted virtually.

“The key message of the series is that we need to question,” he explained. “We need to not just blindly accept what we're given, especially by those who have a vested interest in selling their version of the story.”

Sabel was drawn to the topic because of his background as a director, producer and actor.

“The tragedy that appears to me is that the real author is not receiving the credit for the art that he created,” Sabel said.

The podcast, which is nearly three years old, was created by the SOF’s board of directors, who wanted to have a podcast discussing the authorship question.

The original iteration of the podcast was a collection of three guests without a centralized host. They partnered with the podcast network Dragon Wagon Radio.

This changed after a series of roundtables, when the producer and co-founder of Dragon Wagon Radio, Jake Lloyd Bacon, recommended that the show needed a host — and Sabel should be it.

“After the first episode of the podcast it was clear to me that Steven was the guy to make the voice of it,” Bacon said. “Not only is he well-spoken, he is opinionated in a good way and he is incredibly good at conversing with somebody even if their ideas aren’t his ideas.”

The podcast now has over 65 episodes, regular listeners in 46 different countries and territories and was one of three podcasts honored by the 27th annual Communicator Awards with an award of excellence as a documentary series.

Earl Showerman, one of the podcast’s most frequent guests, thinks that Sabel is an excellent host because he is “lively and his enthusiasm is infectious.”

“It’s incredibly original,” Showerman said. “He is bringing forth a great mosaic, a tapestry of work from a variety of sources and a variety of people who respond to the Shakespeare works. And that there is now a whole catalog of interviews that have been created, it's like having a small library at your fingertips.”

Although Sabel and Showerman are in agreement about de Vere being the one who wrote the works of Shakespeare, Sabel tries to capture a wide range of opinions and beliefs on his podcast so that listeners are able to walk away from each episode with their own opinion.

This is what Sabel’s podcast is at its core, a conversation that probes the audience to engage in it, and it is only fitting that he signs off each episode with the same challenge for the audience.

“Keep asking questions.”

Reach Mail Tribune news intern William Seekamp at wseekamp@rosebudmedia.com.