Shakespeare's Tragedy: Revisions of Romeo and JulietA Stage Play by SamBug
As Shakespeare tries to write Romeo and Juliet, some of his characters begin to emerge, trying to help (or criticize) his play as he wrote.
The sun rises, shining into WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE’S face. He groggily gets out of bed and heads for the bathroom but is interrupted by a loud thud coming from the door. SHAKESPEARE rushes to the door in an outrage and yanks it open to reveal JOHN STAY standing nervously as he waited.
John: Good morning Mr. Shakespeare! How are you this fine morning?
Shakespeare: What compels a man, but from his own selfish instinct, to knock so loudly on a door and wake one up from their slumber?
John: I barely tapped on the door, sir. My fist barely even touched it.
John: Are you alright, sir?
Shakespeare: My head is killing me, Stay. I drank a little too much.
John: Again, sir?
Shakespeare: It’s the only way I find pleasure in this cruel, cruel world now days.
JOHN nods, slightly uninterested. He fiddles his thumbs and avoids eye contact.
John: I, uh, have some important matters to discuss with you, sir.
Shakespeare: Well don’t just stand there! Come in, come in!
SHAKESPEARE steps aside and lets JOHN into his home, revealing a clutter of books and papers laying around, covered in dust. JOHN looks around and studies the place.
Shakespeare: What can I do for you, Mr. Stay?
John: (pacing back and forth) William, the, uh, public has been complaining. Um, quite frankly, uh, as they put it sir, you’ve been, um, drinking a lot and um, they aren’t happy with your last few pieces that you, um, wrote.
Shakespeare: You’re making no sense, John. Please, sit down and explain.
John: Well, sir, you haven’t been taking yourself seriously lately. So no one else is taking
You seriously either. I have direct orders from the queen to, um, I guess as she put it, to
help you write something good for her pleasure.
Shakespeare: You know I prefer to work alone.
John: Yes, sir, but you see, sir, the queen has demanded that I stay and keep you on track so you have a play written by tomorrow or she has orders to cut you loose…and by loose she means¾
Shakespeare: What? Good for nothing queen! What does she know? Al I do is nothing but write pure gold for her and this is how she repays me? I’ll show her! I refuse to write anything for her. See how she likes that. I’ll show her…. But alas…maybe that is what she wants me to do. Give up, perhaps?
John: But why, sir?
Shakespeare: (pointing his finger into JOHN’S chest) To make it easier to cut me lose, Mr. Stay! That’s why! I’ll show her. I’ll give her a masterpiece of my genius! You just watch. Come now, Mr. Stay!
SHAKESPEARE climbs the stairs by twos until he reaches the attic, followed slowly by JOHN STAY.
Tons of crumbled up paper lay scattered around the floor . SHAKESPEARE sits by his desk, pondering the next thing to write.
Shakespeare: Mr. Stay, what do you think about this line? Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
John: Exquisite sir! See, you still got it!
Shakespeare: I told you so! The queen has lost her mind! Now go make us some tea.
John: Yes, sir.
Shakespeare: What an odd, squeamish man. He acts as if he’s afraid of me... I do find it a little strange that he keeps calling me sir, though…and complimenting every little detail that I write.
ROMEO MONTAGUE stands off by the door, chewing on an apple,
Romeo: You do realize you’re on a deadline and you’ve barely even gotten through the play.
Shakespeare: Who said that? Who’s there? Crazy, old man. You’re beginning to hear things in your mind.
Romeo comes into full view and stands in front of Shakespeare. Shakespeare doesn’t seem phased.
Romeo: Let me ask you something. Why do you persist on making my character so mushy and emotional?
Shakespeare: What’s wrong with that?
Romeo: Well, let’s talk about this for a minute. Take a look at Hamlet. He got to pretend to be crazy. He got to kill people…yell…fight…and was obsessed with getting revenge. He had all the fun.
Shakespeare picks his pen up from the paper and looks at Romeo to find that Hamlet is standing next to him.
Hamlet: This is true. Before you decided to kill me, I was having a blast! I don‘t know what compelled you to kill me off.
Romeo: Why can’t I be more like him? I want sword fights and perhaps a lot of ladies on the side.
Shakespeare: The queen would never allow me to write of such blaspheme!
Romeo: Why not? The old bag needs to lighten up a bit.
Shakespeare: The purpose of this play is to create a masterpiece for the queen to enjoy. Not for you to enjoy. What’s it matter what you think anyway? You’re both just figments of my imagination.
Hamlet: A figment!
Shakespeare: Yeah. I made you up. You aren’t really here right now.
Hamlet: What’s he talking about?
Romeo: Simmer down, your highness. He’s just admitting that he’s a crazy old man who can’t write his plays without our help. So I suggest he listen to what we have to say.
Shakespeare: Very well then. Speak! Quickly! I have no time for this nonsense. Time is wasting!
Romeo: Okay, well, what I want to know now is why am I introduced as some depressed a*****e hiding in his dark room.
Hamlet: That’s crap.
Romeo: Yeah, girls don’t dig sensitive guys. They want a real man.
Shakespeare: You won’t be depressed for long, Romeo. Your friends take you out to a party¾
Romeo: Yeah, a party thrown by the Capulet’s…who are our sworn enemies!
Hamlet: Don’t you meet your true love there, though?
Shakespeare: He does. A radiant, young lady who falls madly in love with you.
Romeo: Young? How young?
Shakespeare: Oh about 13, maybe 14 I suppose.
Romeo: What the hell?
Shakespeare: What’s wrong now?
Hamlet: She’s just a baby!
Romeo: It’s weird, plain and simple.
Shakespeare: You aren’t getting any younger, buddy, so I suggest you just deal with it and let me be! I’m trying to write and you both are distracting me! It was bad enough when Mr. Stay was still in the room.
John appears through the door almost on cue after hearing his name.
John: What did you say, sir?
Romeo: Distracting! You? I’m helping you! Without me, this play will be nothing!
Shakespeare: Shut up!
John: Sorry, sir.
Shakespeare: Not you idiot! I was talking to…
John: Talking to who, sir.
Shakespeare: Never mind. I have more important matters to deal with. Romeo tells me he isn’t happy with marrying Juliet Capulet while she’s so young.
Romeo: A Capulet? What are you trying to do? Put disgrace to my name? A Montague cannot fall in love with a Capulet! My family is going to be so pissed!
Shakespeare: It is the purpose of the play! My aim is to create two lovers who fall in love and in the end, bring joy and peace to their families!
John: I know, sir. I’m sorry if I offended you.
Hamlet: That’s a terrible thought, Shakespeare. At this rate, you’re going to be the laughing stock of the town. Looks like you’re screwed Romeo. Never as popular as I’ll always be.
Romeo sinks to the floor and hides his face in his hands.
Romeo: What did I ever do to you?
Shakespeare: What do you want from me? It’s not like I have much time here.
John: Yes, I know sir.
Romeo: Sword fights would be nice. Death. Gore. Cursing. Sex. Subtract all the mushy, gushy crap and make me a rebellious danger to man kind.
John: Sir? Are you alright? I’m here to help.
Shakespeare: Get the hell out of here! You underrated, disgraceful, piece of trash!
Confused, John leaves the room. Suddenly, Shakespeare takes his pen and begins to write vigorously until he finished.
Romeo: What are you doing?
Shakespeare: You know how I‘m going to end this play?
Romeo: I bet you’re going to tell me.
Shakespeare: You die.
Hamlet: Oh how cliché! Does the main character always have to die?
Enraged, Romeo grabs Shakespeare by his shirt and pins him to the wall, his handy sword poking into Shakespeare’s gut. Hamlet watches with applause.
Romeo: You’re a sick, old man. You are going to finish this play. You’re going to write it all, with sword fights, cursing, and death and then you’re going to give it to your squirmy friend and be done with it. Do you hear me?
Shakespeare: Yes, yes. Please, let me go. I promise!
Romeo releases his grip and Shakespeare writes vigorously on a new sheet of paper. Romeo and Hamlet hover over his shoulder, shaking and nodding their head at random. When he finishes, he looks up.
Shakespeare: What do you think?
Hamlet: Worst play ever written!
Romeo: There was nothing interesting in that play besides the one sword fight you decided to write at the beginning and the death of Tibalt. Tear it up and throw it in the garbage.
Hamlet: Might even want to change your name and move to Russia or something because there are no gold stars for this one.
Romeo: Why the hell did we still die in the end?
Shakespeare: It’s tragic and romantic. John!
Shakespeare puts the script into a manila folder and writes JOHN on the front then sealed it shut.
Romeo: You can’t seriously be considering that play as your final draft?
Shakespeare: Leave it be, Romeo.
Shakespeare: Where have you been?
Shakespeare: I don’t have the patience for your squirmy behavior. Here, take this folder and bring it to the queen. I have finished my play and I don’t want to hear another word about it. Now leave.
John exits. A few seconds pass in silence while Romeo watches his fate walk out the door in the hands of John Stay. Then, he pulls out his sword and kills Shakespeare.
Hamlet: Wow, I didn’t think you had it in you. But of course, you did kill your lover’s brother so I guess I wouldn’t put it past you to also kill your creator. Wanna go out for a drink?
Romeo: We’re just a figment of the old man’s imagination. We don’t exist, Hamlet.
Hamlet: Nah. He wrote us into the world. Now he’s dead. So he can’t take it back.
Hamlet: Way I see it is, the idiot took the play to be published. My play is published. We’re a part of this world now.
Romeo: Doesn’t that seem a little impossible?
Hamlet: Only if you’re living in the world of possibilities. I just want to cause mayhem and get drunk. Think you can handle that?
Romeo: I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship.
© 2011 SamBug
Shelved in 2 LibrariesAdded on September 8, 2011
Last Updated on September 8, 2011
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