Shakeshafte & Other Plays

156 pages
December 7, 2021

AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER. Gathered together for the first time, these three plays by Rowan Williams-known throughout the world not only as a religious leader and theologian but also as a poet and critic-explore the inner life of words and images.

Hardcover ISBN 9781639821037 $28.00
Paperback ISBN 9781639821020 $16.00
eBook ISBN 9781639821044 $9.99

Gathered together for the first time, these three plays by Rowan Williams-known throughout the world not only as a religious leader and theologian but also as a poet and critic-explore the inner life of words and images.

Shakeshafte imagines an encounter between a young sixteenth century Englishman with a faintly familiar surname and an undercover Jesuit missionary. Two visions of how words change the world collide and converge and slip away again.

The Flat Roof of the World introduces us to the ageing and troubled artist and poet, David Jones, haunted by his experience of both war and love, struggling to hold together a world of insight and connectedness that is being torn apart by modernity-and by his own fragmented and traumatic history.

Lazarus is a vivid meditation on what it means for a word literally to give life.

Dramatically and verbally intense, these plays memorably open up the space where faith and imagination speak to each other.

Here is poetic prose at its finest, bristling with dramatic tension and scintillating with illuminating metaphors…. The issues at stake—faith and doubt, choice and exclusion, open listening, and finally, decision and commitment—all seem contemporary and prophetically resonant for our own times. Williams the poet and Williams the theologian have met and become something more than themselves in Williams the playwright.

Malcolm Guite, author of Sounding the Seasons

In Shakeshafte & Other Plays, Rowan Williams is asking big questions, offering some provisional answers about how we live and love and believe. But he is also demonstrating the power of beauty to transform us.

Greg Garrett, author of Free Bird

As a dramatist, Rowan Williams asks: what is our vocation, and how might we reach and articulate our inner life? In what might be considered a triptych of plays – birth, death, and resurrection—we encounter individuals on the brink of self-discovery, self-disclosure, through dialogues and monologues that portray the intersection of art and faith. Whether it’s the eighteen-year-old William Shakespeare, the shell-shocked poet David Jones, the troubled and abusing sculptor Eric Gill, or the voices who speak of Lazarus being raised from the dead, these plays invite us to listen—to the harmonies and disharmonies we all find within us.

Paul Edmondson, Head of Research, The Shakespeare Birthplace Trust

Here are three remarkably playable new plays by Dr. Rowan Williams, the former Archbishop of Canterbury. Though they are set in different periods, they all contain vivid characters and witty dialogue, with significant theological issues at stake.

Jeanne Murray Walker, author of Helping the Morning: New and Selected Poems

What a treat! Williams makes the stage an arena where he wrestles with the biggest ideas and makes them speak—and sing—our language.  An absolute original and a joy.

Frank Cottrell Boyce, author of Millions

In evocative and lyrical language, this sequence of three short plays explores a series of “what if” conversations that foreground the process of weaving connections and finding meanings through layers of language, listening and imagination.

Kathleen Henderson Staudt, author of At the Turn of a Civilization: David Jones and Modern Poetics