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Don Zolidis
donzolidis@gmail.com

How to Survive Being in a Shakespeare Play

A comedy in one-act

By Don Zolidis
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Cast of Characters

NARRATOR 1
NARRATOR 2
SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
SECOND SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR

1. Listen to the Magic Ladies


CAESAR
SOOTHSAYER
WITCH 1
WITCH 2
WITCH 3
MACBETH
SERVANT
BRUTUS
CASCA
CINNA
CASSIUS

2. Listen to the Regular Ladies Too


OPHELIA
HAMLET
BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 1
BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 2
GHOST
GERTRUDE

3. Don’t Listen to Dudes


HENRY V
SOLDIER 1-3

4. Change your name


ROMEO
JULIET
PARIS
TYBALT

5. Get A Proper Amount of Sleep in a Place Where No One will Murder You
LADY MACBETH
NURSE
NURSE 2
LAWYER
GHOST
ANNOUNCER
FAKE LADY MACBETH
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6. Avoid Snakes
CLEOPATRA
IRAS
CHARMIAN
ASP

7. Also Avoid Bears


ANTIGONUS
SHEPHERD
CLOWN
BEAR

8. Make Other Animal Friends


LEAR
EMOTIONAL SUPPORT LLAMA
RICHARD 3
CATESBY
HORSE

9. Relationship Counseling
OTHELLO
DESDEMONA
IAGO
EMILIA
GAIL

10. Avoid Yourself


BOTTOM
ROMEO
JULIET
LADY MACBETH
OPHELIA
OTHERS

Length of the play: This show is approximately one hour long. To cut it into a shorter one-act,
simply remove one or more of the sections.

Gender of the performers: Any role may be cast with any gender performer. Realism is not
necessarily the goal here.

Race/ethnicity of the performers: Any person of any race or ethnicity may play any part in the
show. EXCEPTION: The role of Othello must be played by an African-American. (Iago and
Desdemona should probably not be African-American, but that’s not a requirement) If you are
not able to cast that role, please skip the Othello scene.
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Accents: Everyone in this play, (except the narrators), should have a British accent. The actors
directly quoting Shakespeare should have an over-the-top Shakespearean British accent (rolled
r’s, snooty manner). The Shakespeare should be bad.
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Lights up.
A Shakespearean stage.

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR enters, perhaps in tights, overacting terribly.

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this sun of York;
And all the clouds that lour'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried.

NARRATOR 1
If you’re an actor, this has probably happened to you.
SECOND SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR ENTERS, sword drawn.

SECOND SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR


I will bring thee to heel, cur!
SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR draws his own sword.

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
Thou art the cur, snog muffin!

SECOND SHAKESPEREAN ACTOR


Feel my blade!

SHAKESPEAREN ACTOR
I’ve already tried, and I don’t like it!

NARRATOR 2
Let’s stop this here.

SECOND SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR


Piffle! I was about to teach this pupil a lesson!

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
The only lesson thou wilt teach is what thou lookest like when thy guts are piling `pon the stage,
friend to bunnies!

SECOND SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR


I am no friend to bunnies! Takest that back!

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
Never! Thou lovest all the bunnies!

SECOND SHAKESPEAREN ACTOR


I wilt drink thy blood!
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NARRATOR 1
Guys? Seriously.

NARRATOR 2
At some point, it’s going to happen to you. It’s inevitable. There’s no escaping it.

NARRATOR 1
You’re going to end up in a Shakespeare play.

NARRATOR 2
You don’t know when it’s going to happen, you don’t know why it’s going to happen, but you’ll
find yourself wearing tights, or a corset –

NARRATOR 1
Or tights and a corset if you’ve got a really good role.

NARRATOR 2
And you will say things like –

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
You, minion, are too saucy!

SECOND SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR


Away, you three inch fool!

SHAKESPEAREAN ACTOR
A pox on your throat!
NARRATOR 1 puts a calming hand on their shoulders.

NARRATOR 1
And if you end up in a Shakespeare play, there’s a good chance…

NARRATOR 2
You’re gonna die.

SHAKESPEARAN ACTOR
What?

NARRATOR 1
You are most likely toast.

NARRATOR 2
If your name is on the title of that play…

NARRATOR 1
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And it says tragedy under it?

NARRATOR 2
You’re DOOMED.

NARRATOR 1
You’ll be stabbed –

NARRATOR 2
Or poisoned –

NARRATOR 1
Chopped up into a pie –

NARRATOR 2
Eaten by sharks -
NARRATOR 1 looks at NARRATOR 2
It’s in Troilus and Cressida, check it out. Original Sharknado.

NARRATOR 1
The point is that you are NOT making it to the end of the play.

NARRATOR 2
Unless you listen to us!

NARRATOR 1
That’s right! We are here to provide you a service – you wake up, you’re wearing tights, you
speak in iambic pentameter, don’t panic.

NARRATOR 2
So buckle up for

NARRAOR 1 and 2
How to Survive Being in a Shakespeare Play.

NARRATOR 1
Method 1:
NARRATOR 2 produces a sign saying “1”
Listen to magical Ladies!
Reveals a sign saying that.

1. Listen to the Magic Ladies

NARRATOR 2
The most likely way to die in Shakespeare is being stabbed with a sharp pointy object, like a
sword, dagger, knife, or shark.
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NARRATOR 1
No sharks.

NARRATOR 2
How little you know, friend. And the best way to avoid stabbing is to listen to the magic ladies
who are telling you how not to get stabbed. Pro-tip: If a freaky, bizarre woman in the woods
screams something about your death to you in a mysterious way, listen.

NARRATOR 1
Example one: Julius Caesar.
CAESAR enters, grandly, to fanfare.

CAESAR
Quick question. My name is on the title of this play, yes?

NARRATOR 1
Right.

CAESAR
And does it say, “tragedy of” anywhere?

NARRATOR 1
All over this puppy.

CAESAR
Thank you.
A crowd gathers (CASCA, CASSIUS, BRUTUS) with SOOTHSAYER, a creepy, bizarre
woman.
Who is it in the press that calls on me?
I hear a tongue, shriller than all the music,
Cry “Caesar!”—Speak. Caesar is turned to hear.

SOOTHSAYER
BEWARE…
She pauses

CAESAR
Beware what?

SOOTHSAYER
THE IDES….
Pauses again

CAESAR (trying to figure out what Ides are)


…ides?
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SOOTHSAYER
OF MARCH!
She coughs and sputters.
I have spoken.
She’s about to leave.

CAESAR
Whoah whoah whoah hold up. What are the Ides of March?

SOOTHSAYER
Your doom! Ha ha ha ha ha!

CAESAR
I got that part, but I don’t know what Ides are. It’s not a word.

SOOTHSAYER
March fifteenth, about nine thirty a.m.

CAESAR
Thank you! Was that so hard?

SOOTHSAYER
Watch out for the stabby knives!
She exits.

NARRATOR 2
Remember – when the crazy lady tells you to beware of something, BEWARE of something.

CAESAR
Got it.
CEASAR exits, with crowd.

NARRATOR 1
Also works for witches.
MACBETH enters stealthily, perhaps in fog.
An owl HOOTS.

MACBETH
I’M A LITTLE FREAKED OUT RIGHT NOW IN CASE ANYONE WAS LISTENING.
WITCH 1 leaps in.

WITCH 1
Macbeth!
WITCH 2 leaps in.
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WITCH 2 (overlapping)
Macbeth!
WITCH 3 pops out of a garbage can.

WITCH 3 (a throaty growl, overlapping)


MACBETH.

MACBETH
Ah! I mean, what’s up, ladies?

WITCH 2
None of woman born shall harm Macbeth.

WITCH 1 and 3
OOOOOOOOOH.

MACBETH
That sounds promising.

WITCH 1
None of woman born shall harm Macbeth.

WITCH 3 (overlapping, throaty growl)


NONE OF WOMAN BORN SHALL HARM MACBETH.

WITCH 2
OOOOOOOH.

MACBETH
Right, right, right. Okay – so what about people grown in nutrient vats?

WITCH 2
Yeah they can harm you.

MACBETH
What about large animals with sharp teeth?

WITCH 3
Also can kill you.

MACBETH
Sharks?

WITCH 1
Yup.
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MACBETH
Porcupines?

WITCH 2
You think a porcupine is going to kill you.

MACBETH
I’m trying to cover my bases here.

WITCH 3
Porcupines could, theoretically, harm Macbeth.

MACBETH
Good to know.
A SERVANT runs in.
Can you kill all the porcupines in England please?

SERVANT
There are no porcupines in England.

MACBETH
Really?

SERVANT
Strictly a North American creature, sire.
SERVANT exits.

MACBETH
That was educational. Lastly, just for clarification: Let’s say someone is born from a Caesarean
section – does that count as “from woman born?”

WITCH 1
Nope.

MACBETH
What?!

WITCH 2
Not from woman born. That’s untimely ripped from the womb.

MACBETH
The heck it is. Where was the womb then?! Was it in a space pod?

WITCH 3
Doesn’t count.
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MACBETH
A C-section counts as being born from a woman!

WITCH 1
No human person who was born in natural birth with a licensed midwife may harm Macbeth.

WITCH 2 (overlapping)
No human person who was born in natural birth with a licensed midwife may harm Macbeth –

WITCH 3 (overlapping, throaty growl)


NO HUMAN PERSON WHO WAS BORN –

MACBETH
I get it.
Short pause.
What about a meteor?

WITCH 1
Can kill you.

WITCH 2
Also the plague –

WITCH 3 (overlapping)
FALLING ROCKS.

WITCH 1 (overlapping)
Very large mosquitoes -

WITCH 3 (overlapping
HEART DISEASE.

MACBETH
NONE OF THIS IS HELPFUL.

WITCH 2
Don’t worry, Macbeth shall never vanquished be, until Great Birnam wood to
high Dunsinane hill Shall come against him.

MACBETH
DUDE SHUT UP.
Macbeth leaves.

WITCH 3
He’s so toast.
The witches exit.
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NARRATOR 2
The crazy ladies give you knowledge of the future – how you use it, though… is up to you.
CASCA and BRUTUS enter, in togas, getting ready with their daggers.

CASCA
You ready, Brutus?
BRUTUS starts stretching.

BRUTUS
Just gotta get limbered up, Casca. Don’t want to pull a muscle.

CASCA
Smart thinking.
CASCA also begins stretching.

BRUTUS
I just want to let you know, I’ve cherished this time we’ve spent together, planning to murder
Caesar.

CASCA
Thank you. That means a lot. I’m glad we can open up and share our emotions with each other.

BRUTUS
I feel like this is the healthiest I’ve been mentally in a long time.

CASCA
That’s beautiful.

BRUTUS
Can I hug you? I want to hug you.

CASCA
Bring it here.
BRUTUS hugs CASCA.
CASSICUS and CINNA, two other conspirators, enter.

CASSIUS
We doin’ this?

CINNA
What ho, ladies. Cinna in the house.
CINNA gives complicated handshakes, perhaps with stabbing motions.

BRUTUS
You don’t need call me a lady just because I’m emotionally secure. I find that demeaning.
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CINNA
Somebody’s got their knickers in a twist.

CASSISUS
Silence, Cinna. We are all committed, then? To do the thing?

CINNA
You know I’m game, bro. Gonna get my stabbin’ in.
CINNA eagerly practices some stabs.

CASCA
Caesar suspects nothing.
CAESAR enters, wearing an entire suit made out of balloons. He can barely move.
The conspirators wave at him.

BRUTUS
Hail Caesar!

CAESAR
It is a very nice Ides of March today, isn’t it?
He enjoys his balloons. Plays with them a bit.
I will now hear suits from the common rabble.
The conspirators huddle suspiciously.

CASSIUS
I’m nervous, dudes.

BRUTUS
Be cool, Cassius. We got this.

CAESAR
Anyone have any requests that I can turn down? Any babies to kiss? Anyone?

CASCA
Yeah I got something. Speak, hands for me!
CASCA tries to stab CAESAR, but his dagger bounces off his balloons.
The other conspirators rush up.

CASSIUS
Death to Caesar!
Stabs, bounces off balloon.

CINNA
Welcome to the jungle, baby!
Stabs, bounces off balloon.
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BRUTUS
I’m conflicted about this!
Stabs, bounces off balloon.

CAESAR
Et tu, Brute?

BRUTUS
Um…
Pause. They all try again. Fail.

CAESAR (taking out phone)


Yes, I’d like to reporter a murder. Cause Caesar just KILLED IT. All right can we have the
conspirators dragged off and beheaded please? Thanks. And thank you crazy lady!
He gives a thumb’s up.

2. Listen to regular ladies too

NARRATOR 1
But it’s not just magic ladies you need to listen to.

NARRATOR 2
It’s regular ladies too.

NARRATOR 1
Let’s say you’re a prince.
HAMLET enters, holding a skull, and talking to it.

HAMLET
Alas, Poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio. A fellow of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy.
Looks around.
Horatio? Anyone? I guess I’ll just keep talking to myself then. Totally normal thing to do. With
the skull of a guy that died twenty years ago. This certainly isn’t weird or disturbing at all.
OPHELIA enters.

OPHELIA
Hamlet?

HAMLET
Hey, sweetie.

OPHELIA
What are you doing out here in the graveyard, talking to a skull?

HAMLET
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Nothing.
He drops the skull behind his back. Then tries to secretly kick it off-stage.

OPHELIA
I thought we could go on a date, things have been so crazy lately – with all of your… acting
crazy.

HAMLET (laughs a bit, tosses the skull to himself)


Yeah it’s been so difficult around the palace lately, with my Dad being killed and my Mom
marrying my uncle.

OPHELIA
Maybe we could forget about the royal family and spend some quality time together.
BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER pops up from behind something and snaps a picture of
them.

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER


Secret rendez-vous in the graveyard! Does Prince Hamlet even like Ophelia or is he just using
her like the garbage she is?!

OPHELIA
Oh darn it they found us.

HAMLET
Ignore them, honey.
BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 2 pops in from somewhere else, snapping photos.

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 2


Exclusive! Ophelia wears red for sneaky graveyard date! The symbol of death! Is she the cause
of Prince Hamlet’s madness?!

OPHELIA
Um so you want to watch a movie or anything? Maybe we could just snuggle?

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER


In despair over losing his father, Prince Hamlet goes dumpster-diving – and finds Ophelia!

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 2


Why doesn’t she just throw herself into a pond already?!

HAMLET
Maybe we should go sneak into a nunnery.

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER


Prince Hamlet tells Ophelia to get thee to a nunnery! But would she pollute the nunnery with her
terrible sense of style?!
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OPHELIA (to Hamlet)


Oh man I hate the paparazzi.

HAMLET
Don’t worry about it. Comes with the territory of being prince.
He addresses the reporters.
Good day chaps! If you give us a minute, I’ll let you pick through my rubbish. I think you’ll find
my lint fascinating.

REPORTERS
Ooooooh.
OPHELIA pulls HAMLET to the side.

OPHELIA
They go. Or I go.

HAMLET
But baby this is how it works.

OPEHLIA
Not with me. And they hate me. Hamlet. Listen to me.

HAMLET
Very well. I shall give them letters. On the letters I’ll write, `murder me’ and then I’ll have them
deliver the letters to people with very pointy swords. That way, they’ll all be dead.

OPHELIA
Don’t be dense. More reporters will show up investigating the last reporters. We have to do
something else. Here’s my plan:
She whispers in his ear as the Reporters speak into cameras.

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER


EXCLUSIVE! What has happened to Prince Hamlet?! He used to be a manly man, fighting with
swords and other sharp objects, and now, now he wears tights and listen to a woman’s feelings.
Preposterous.

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 2


Shameful behavior from the royal family! I blame Ophelia. She’s odious. Like a bloated slug that
has heaved itself onto the shore of our great nation, oozing pus and reeking of feminism. I, for
one, will not stand for –
HAMLET interrupts them.

HAMLET
Excuse me, I have an announcement.
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REPORTERS
Ooooh.

HAMLET
After careful consideration, I will stepping back from my role in the monarchy. Of Denmark.
Ophelia and I have decided that we will move to Canada where everything is not so rotten. We
are working on becoming financially independent and will be seeking a relationship counselor.
Thank you.

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER


Prince Hamlet is out!

BRITISH TABLOID REPORTER 2


Controlled by the jealous Ophelia –

HAMLET
Oh sorry. In my last act as prince, I would like you to deliver these letters for me.
Hands letters to reporters.

REPOTERS
Oooh.
They run off.
Are murdered off-stage.
The GHOST enters, upset.

GHOST
What. The. Heck. Booo. Booooo. I am thy father’s spirit
Doomed for a certain time to walk the night

HAMLET
I know, Dad. I don’t want to hear it.

GHOST
Revenge my foul and most unnatural murder!

HAMLET
NOPE. Not doing it. Me and Ophelia are moving to Canada for free health care. We’re gonna
need a lot of therapy.

GHOST
The serpent that did sting thy father’s life
NOW WEARS HIS CROWN!

HAMLET
Yeah, I know, you already haunted me once and explained everything. He poured poison in your
ear.
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GHOST
IN MY EAR! It was gross.

HAMLET
And then married my Mom. I get it. Not cool. But you know what, this happens in every royal
family and I’m done with this.

OPHELIA
Hi Hamlet Senior.

GHOST
Do not speak to me, foul strumpet.

OPHELIA
See, that kind of sexist language is why we’re leaving.

GHOST
This is a tragedy!

HAMLET
Not anymore!

OPHELIA
Please, just be happy for us.

GHOST
No! I’m dead!
GERTRUDE enters.

GERTRUDE
That’s because you didn’t listen to me, Hamlet.

GHOST
Girl, your boyfriend slash my brother killed me!

GERTRUDE
Um… he only killed you because you weren’t a good listener.

GHOST
What?!

GERTRUDE
Do you remember when I told you that if you didn’t let me have the remote control I was going
to have your brother poison you?
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GHOST
No.

GERTRUDE
CAUSE YOU WEREN’T LISTENING!

HAMLET
Not to interrupt, but both of you are terrible role-models and I’m happy to be rid of you.

OPHELIA
That’s why I’m glad my father is nice.

HAMLET
Oh – about that – I may have killed your father accidentally. Just putting that out there.
Pause.

OPHELIA
We’re gonna need a lot of therapy.

HAMLET
Yup. Would you like to deliver a letter of apology?
OPHELIA looks at the letter.

OPHELIA
No.
Lights change.

3. Stop Listening to Dudes

NARRATOR 1
So, make sure you listen to both magical and non-magical ladies. Got it.

NARRATOR 2
And the reverse is also true.

NARRATOR 1
That’s right. Method 3
NARRATOR 2 produces a sign.

NARRATOR 2
Don’t listen to dudes.

NARRATOR 1
Or bros. And there is one bro in particular you shouldn’t listen to. King Bro: Henry the Fifth.
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HENRY V enters, in armor, with sword. He speaks in a very royal British/Shakespearean


accent.
His soldiers, exhausted, bloody, and beat-up, limp on and gather around him.

SOLDIER
Oh man. This war is going so badly.

SOLDIER 2
I don’t care. I’ll fight for Henry. He’s my king!
Growls, waves his sword around.

SOLDIER 3
Aye! For King and Country!

SOLDIER
Right. Sure. Definitely. Just um… his name is on the title of the play, right?

SOLDIER 2
This is the glorious History of Henry the Fifth. Grrr.

SOLDIER
And it doesn’t say “tragedy” anywhere on there, so that means Henry lives and everyone else
dies.

SOLDIER 2
I am happy to die for king and country! HAPPY ABOUT IT! YES! In fact, if I don’t die today, I
will be sorely disappointed. Oh to die in the company of this glorious king. Woo! England!

SOLDIER 3
YAAAAAASSS King!

SOLDIER
Huh. Question:
Raises his hand.
Can we get some additional soldiers please?

HENRY V
What’s he that wishes so?

SOLDIER (raises hand)


Um… me? My name’s Dave I signed up for this army by mistake. I was hoping to have an
administrative role. The most violent thing I’ve ever done is soccer, or, in England, football.

HENRY (interrupting)
If we are mark’d to die, we are enow
To do our country loss; and if to live,
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The fewer men, the greater share of honour.


God’s will! I pray thee, wish not one man more.

SOLDIER
I’m not sure this is sound military strategy -

HENRY V
O, do not wish one more!

SOLDIER
How `bout like a thousand more? Or armored giant cats or something? We could ride them into
battle.

HENRY V
Rather proclaim it,
That he which hath no stomach to this fight,
Let him depart;

SOLDIER
Ooh.
He tries to leave, but the other soldiers stop him. HENRY is really getting into his
inspirational speech now.

HENRY V
We would not die in that man’s company
That fears his fellowship to die with us.

OTHER SOLDIERS (except SOLDIER)


I heard that. Woop. Aye. (Etc…)

HENRY V
This day is called the feast of Crispian:
He that outlives this day, and comes safe home,
Will stand a tip-toe when the day is named,
And rouse him at the name of Crispian.

OTHER SOLDIERS
Yaasss! That’s right. He speaks truth! (etc…)

HENRY V
He that shall live this day, and see old age,
Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbours,
And say ‘To-morrow is Saint Crispian:’
Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars.
HENRY shows his scars.
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OTHER SOLDIERS
Oooooooh.

HENRY V
And say ‘These wounds I had on Crispin’s day!’

SOLDIERS
Yes! Woo! Wooo!
SOLDIER raises his hand again.

SOLDIER
So wait, our whole plan is `chicks dig scars?’
HENRY V strolls amongst his men, giving them an encouraging nod and a smile.

HENRY V
And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by,
From this day to the ending of the world,

SOLDIER (underneath)
Oh here we go.

HENRY V
But we in it shall be remember’d;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;

SOLDIER (underneath)
We’re still doing this speech then?

HENRY V
For he to-day that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother.
There’s a lot of hugging. Someone tries to hug SOLDIER –

SOLDIER (underneath)
Question on that – would we be in line for an inheritance then if we’re your brothers?

HENRY V (ignoring him)


This day shall gentle his condition:
And gentlemen in England now a-bed
Shall think themselves accursed they were not here,
And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks
That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day!
The other soldiers CHEER and raises their swords, stamp their feet.

SOLDIER
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Um hi. Yes. I don’t see a plan here. You’ve basically just said it’s good to be outnumbered and
we’ll get cool scars from this. We’re all gonna die is not a strategy!

SOLDIER 2
Then we all die TOGETHER!!!
Cheers and whoops from everyone.

SOLDIER
Again, I signed up for an administrative position. I have excellent word processing skills, if we
need any letters written up, or – do we need to coordinate lunch? I can coordinate lunch. That
seems like a fine use for me –

HENRY V
Onward!
HENRY V raises his sword and charges off-stage.
All the other soldiers follow, except SOLDIER. He looks around.
Off-stage fighting sounds.

SOLDIER 2 (overlapping, off-stage)


AAAAAH OH NO MY ARM GOT CHOPPED OFF!

SOLDIER 3 (overlapping, off-stage)


AHHHH MY FACE MY BEAUTIFUL FACE!

SOLDIER 2 (overlapping, off-stage)


OH THIS WAS A BAD IDEA WE’RE DYING!

SOLDIER 3 (overlapping, off-stage)


SO MUCH PAIN! THERE IS SO MUCH PAIN!
HENRY V runs backs in, possibly drenched in blood.

HENRY V
Once more into the breech!

SOLDIER
No thanks!
HENRY V charges off again.

SOLDIER 2 (off-stage)
OH NO THIS HURTS EVEN MORE THAN LAST TIME!

SOLDIER 3 (off-stage)
MOMMY!

SOLDIER 2 (off-stage)
IF ONLY WE HAD ONE MORE SOLDIER THIS WOULD TURN THE TIDE OF BATTLE!
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SOLDIER 3 (off-stage)
JUST ONE MORE DUDE! THAT WOULD DO IT! ONE SINGLE ADDITIONAL PERSON
TO HELP WITH THIS SPECIFIC FIGHT RIGHT HERE!
SOLDIER looks around. There is no one else on stage.

NARRATOR 2
Luckily, at this point, football/soccer skills come in handy.
SOLDIER looks around.
Clutches his hamstring. Falls over.

SOLDIER
Aaaaaaaah.

NARRATOR 1
And that’s why we speak French in England today.
SOLDIER 1 sneaks off-stage.

4. Change your Name.

NARRATOR 1
Knowing the right person to listen to is critical to survival. If that person is wearing a crown –

NARRATOR 2
Ignore.

NARRATOR 1
If that person is wearing a cat?

NARRATOR 2
Listen.

NARRATOR 1
And if that fails?

NARRATOR 2 (raising a sign)


Method Four.
JULIET enters, talks to herself on a balcony.

JULIET
Oh Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?
Deny thy father and refuse thy name.
Or, if thou wilt not, but be sworn by my name,
And I’ll never more be a Capulet.
ROMEO enters, listening.
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ROMEO
But soft! What light through yonder window breaks!
It is the east, and Juliet is the sun!
JULIET notices him.

JULIET
Heyyyy.

ROMEO
What’s up, girl? You’re looking fiiine.

JULIET
Right back at you.

ROMEO
How `bout I climb up that balcony and we can make some poetry together? Rhyming couplets.

JULIET
Ooh. Just one thing, though.

ROMEO
What is it, Juliet?
She takes out a playbill.

JULIET
Look at this.
She shows it to him.

ROMEO (reading)
Romeo and Juliet.

JULIET
And what’s underneath that?

ROMEO (reading)
A tragedy.

JULIET
Both our names are on this play. That means we’re both gonna die at the end.

ROMEO
I will kill the playwright!

JULIET
Slow your roll, Romeo. You can’t stab your way out of this. There’s only one way out of this:
let’s change our names.
27

ROMEO
Brilliant. I will be Juliet and you will be Romeo. I’ve always wanted to be Juliet.

JULIET
You’re not getting it. We need to have completely non-tragic names. Henceforth, I shall be
known as… Anastasia.

ROMEO
Still sounds tragic.

JULIET
Melisande.

ROMEO
Also tragic.

JULIET
Darn it.

ROMEO
I’ve got it! Schmop.

JULIET
Schmop?

ROMEO
Kind of like the sound of a glob of mud hitting the backside of a pig. Schmop.

JULIET
I like it. And you shall be named… Goober.

ROMEO
Goober and Schmop.

JULIET
Doesn’t sound like a tragedy to me!

ROMEO
The Romance of Goober and Schmop! That is comedy.

JULIET
Exactly!
PARIS enters, with sword.

PARIS
28

Juliet, it is I, Paris. Your betrothed.

JULIET
Actually my name is Schmop.

PARIS
Schmop?

JULIET
Right.

ROMEO
Sounds like a wad of dung dropping from a great height.

PARIS
The lady… Schmop?

JULIET
Indeed. You were saying how we were engaged to be married?

PARIS
Um… actually, no worries.

JULIET
Are you sure?

PARIS
I just want to be friends. I’ll text you. Um. Later.
PARIS leaves quickly.

JULIET
Schmop has quite the effect on the gentlemen.
TYBALT enters, sword drawn.

TYBALT
Where is Romeo? I, Tybalt, have come to slay him!

ROMEO
Actually, that’s me. Although my name is not Romeo, it is Goober.

TYBALT
Goober?

ROMEO
Yes I am the mighty Goober and I shall let everyone know, if I defeat you in battle, that you
were slain… by Goober.
29

TYBALT
Um… you know what, it’s cool. I’m just gonna text you later.
TYBALT exits.

JULIET
That was amazing.

ROMEO
I love you, Schmop.

JULIET
I love you, Goober.
They exit hand in hand.

NARRATOR 1
And they lived happily ever after with their two children: Begonia and Scrotus.

5. Get a Proper Amount of Sleep in a Place Where No One will Murder You

NARRATOR 2
Which brings us to our fifth survival method.

NARRATOR 1 (with a sign)


Get a proper amount of sleep in a place where no one will murder you.

NARRATOR 2
Not sleeping in Shakespeare is not good. You will die. Or, if you sleep where someone else is
planning to stab you in your sleep.

NARRATOR 1
Let’s see how we can help Lady Macbeth get some sleep. She’s troubled because she murdered
somebody.
LADY MACBETH enters, haunted.

NARRATOR 2
It happens.

LADY MACBETH (looking at her nightgown)


Yet here’s a spot. Out, damned spot! Out, I say! One: Two: why, then, `tis time to do’t. –Hell is
murky! Fie my lord, fie! A soldier, and afeared?
Two NURSES enters, watching.
Yet who would have thought the old man
To have had so much blood in him.

NURSE
30

Oh she’s talking to herself about killing people again.

NURSE 2
Every night with this. Oh I killed somebody now I can’t sleep.

NURSE
Real problem.

LADY MACBETH
The thane of Fife had a wife: where is she now?
What, will these hands ne’er be clean? No more o’
That, my lord, no more o’ that: you mar all with
This starting.

NURSE
Lady, is it you?

LADY MACBETH (sniffing her hand)


Here’s the smell of blood still: all the
Perfumes of Arabia will not sweeten this little
Hand. Oh, oh oh!
NURSE claps loudly next to her.

NURSE (shrieking)
Wake up!

LADY MACBETH
Ah!
She looks around.
Sleepwalking again. Did I mutter anything incriminating in my sleep?

NURSE
Just something about a spot and blood and murdering the king.

NURSE 2
Nothing more than you do every night, ma’am.

LADY MACBETH
Right. Oh I am guilty! Guilty guilty guilty!
She weeps.

NURSE 2
WHOAH. Never admit guilt. That’s the first step.

NURSE
My lady you must ask for mercy!
31

NURSE 2
DUMB. Don’t do it! They can’t prove anything. I mean, yes, the king died here, and yes his
blood is all over the floor and yes you’re muttering about it in your sleep, but is that really
“evidence?” Does that “prove” “anything”?

LADY MACBETH
I don’t know.

NURSE
Seems like that’s pretty cut and dry.

NURSE 2
There are two sides to every story. They say you murdered Duncan. You say you didn’t murder
Duncan. Who could possibly know what the “truth” is?

LADY MACBETH
Huh.

NURSE
This is madness! Lady, confess your guilt and seek mercy for your crimes!

NURSE 2
THAT’S STUPID. All we need is a lawyer with no morals.
LAWYER swoops in.

LAWYER
Did someone call for a lawyer with no morals?

NURSE 2
See, they’re easy to find!

NURSE
How did you know we were looking?

LAWYER
Your home Alexa system is set up to record your every word, which is then filtered into an
algorithm on Facebook to share your private information with corporate clients. Thanks, home
assistants!

LADY MACBETH
Is that why I’ve been seeing all those ads for daggers?

LAWYER
Definitely. Is this a dagger I see before me? Nope! But here are some great deals on daggers
from a local weapons store! Now the first thing is to admit to nothing! No one can prove
32

anything! Plus, you’re rich! And if I learned anything in law school, it’s that rich people are
never convicted for anything! Ha ha ha ha.

LADY MACBETH
You’re my kind of lawyer.

NURSE
This is outrageous! You can’t just –

LAWYER
Can we remove this nurse please? Not a good idea to have people who like to tell the “truth”
around.

NURSE 2
Absolutely. You can clean the dungeon.

NURSE
But I –
NURSE 2 drags NURSE off.

LAWYER
Loyal servants who don’t divulge your crimes are so hard to find. Now, are you being haunted
by any ghosts?
GHOST enters.

GHOST
Booooo…. Murderrrrrrrrr….

LADY MACBETH
I think so.

LAWYER
We’ll get a restraining order against them.
POLICE OFFICER grabs GHOST and pulls it off-stage.

GHOST
Ah! Hey! I have rights!

LAWYER
Then we hire a PR Firm to go all in with television ads. We’ll need some footage of you helping
the poor or some nonsense like that.

LADY MACBETH
But I haven’t helped the poor.

LAWYER
33

We can use an actress who looks like you, no worries. Do you have any children that can appear
with you in the ad? Cute ones, preferably.

LADY MACBETH
I have no children.

LAWYER
We’ll hire some, not a problem.

LADY MACBETH
Wow.

LAWYER
All right. Take an Ambien, have a nice glass of warm milk, and you’ll sleep like a baby that was
untimely ripped from its mother’s womb.

LADY MACBETH
I’m feeling better already.
Yawns.

LAWYER
Check this out.
Perhaps inspirational music plays under this.
FAKE LADY MACBETH enters, with a small child (*if you don’t have a small child, you
can have her pantomime interacting with one) .

ANNOUNCER
Raised by middle-class parents, Lady Macbeth learned the value of hard work early on. Now, as
a rich person, she works tirelessly to help the poor reach a better life. Plus, she’s super nice. Lady
Macbeth: Definitely not a murderer. Paid for by the committee to keep Lady Macbeth out of
prison.
FAKE LADY MACBETH smiles and waves, perhaps in slow motion.
NURSE 2 returns.

NURSE
I’d vote for you.

LADY MACBETH
I love it.
She stretches.
Well, I’m off to bed.
She leaves.

NURSE 2
I love a happy ending.
34

LAWYER
She’ll be fine until Birnam woods come to Dunsinane.

6. Avoid Snakes

NARRATOR 1
First thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.

NARRATOR 2
Who said that?

NARRATOR 1
Shakespeare.

NARRATOR 2
He had some issues.

NARRATOR 1
Oh definitely. But also some irrational fears. Let’s say you’re the most powerful woman in the
world.

NARRATOR 2
Ms. Marvel. She can fly through spaceships.

NARRATOR 1
No –

NARRATOR 2
Wonder Woman –

NARRATOR 1
Not a superhero. I’m talking about Cleopatra.
CLEOPATRA enters grandly, attended by IRAS and CHARMIAN, her servants.
Queen of Egypt. Fell in love with an Italian dude. About to be destroyed. That Cleopatra. How to
save her from death?

NARRATOR 2
Method Six!
Shows a sign
Avoid Snakes.

CLEOPATRA
Give me my robe, put on my crown. I have
Immortal longings in me; now no more
The juice of Egypt’s grape shall moist this lip:
I am fire and air; my other elements
35

I give to baser life. So; have you done?


Come then, and take the last warmth of my lips.
CLEOPATRA beckons IRAS to kiss her. IRAS hesitates.

IRAS
Um… I have a cold, actually. So I’m not comfortable with that level of intimacy.

CLEOPATRA
Farewell, kind Charmian.
She’s about to kiss CHARMIAN.

CHARMIAN
I’m in a committed relationship right now, so…
CHARMIAN shakes CLEOPATRA’s hand.

CLEOPTRA
Come thou, mortal wretch.
She stops. Takes out the script to the play.
Um… question: It says here that I apply an asp to my breast?

NARRATOR 1
Yeah that’s in the stage directions.

CLEOPATRA
That seems like a bad idea.

NARRATOR 1
Right, you’re killing yourself.

CLEOPATRA
With an asp?

CHARMIAN
A what?

CLEOPATRA
An asp.

IRAS
How do you kill yourself with an asp?

CLEOPATRA
You apply one to yourself, apparently.
An ASP enters, (a very large snake)

CHARMIAN
36

Whoah check out that asp.

IRAS
That is one big asp.

CHARMIAN
I like big asps. And I cannot lie.

CLEOPATRA
With thy sharp teeth this knot intrinsicate
Of life at once untie: poor venomous fool
Be angry, and dispatch. O, couldst thou speak,
That I might hear thee call great Caesar ass
Unpolicied!

ASP
You want me to talk?

CLEOPATRA
As long as you call great Caesar names.

ASP
Look, I’m concerned about the stereotypes you guys have for asps.

CHARMIAN
Oh yeah.

ASP
Would you stop? That’s offensive.

CHARMIAN
I’m a big fan of asps.

ASP
How do you think I feel being used as a murder weapon?

IRAS
That asp is killer.

ASP
Does anyone ask about my hobbies? My thoughts about the political climate? What if there was
a way to save yourself without asking an asp to do the dirty work?
IRAS chuckles.
Hey! Hey don’t laugh at that! We asps have been made to feel dirty for too long!
IRAS chuckles louder.
37

You know what?! I’m not being a part of this anymore. You people are too immature for asps.
You can’t handle this asp!

CHARMIAN
Hee hee.

ASP
Here, use this garden snake instead!
He tosses a rubber snake at CLEOPATRA.
I’m out of here!
The ASP leaves, outraged.

CHARMIAN
Man, I miss that asp.

NARRATOR 1
Keep going please!

CLEOPATRA (takes up the rubber snake)


As sweet as balm, as soft as air, as gentle, --
O Antony! – Nay, I will take thee too.
She applies the rubber snake to her arm. Nothing happens.
She applies it again.
It does not appear to be working.

IRAS
We are saved my Queen!

CLEOPATRA
I guess we are.

IRAS
Now we can just wait for Caesar to come and murder us.

NARRATOR 2
So the answer is: Insult snakes so they leave you alone!

NARRATOR 1
Exactly.

NARRATOR 2
Wow. You think we could make more butt jokes in this play?

NARRATOR 1
Yes William Shakespeare would never make butt jokes. He would certainly not name a character
Bottom and have that guy turned into an ass in a play. That would be ridiculous.
38

NARRATOR 2
But wait, wasn’t Caesar killed in the other play?

NARRATOR 1
This is Augustus Caesar – Antony and Cleopatra is the bloodier sequel to Julius Caesar.
Basically Shakespeare took his first play, added a bunch more characters and a much higher
body count.

NARRATOR 2
Oh.

NARRATOR 1
Yea he did a lot of sequels. Antony and Cleopatra. Henry the Fourth part 2. Romeo and Juliet 2 –
the Revenge. A Midsummer Night’s Dream Three: Wrath of The Big Bottom.

7. Also Avoid Bears

NARRATOR 2
He truly was a visionary.

NARRATOR 1
But you know what’s worse than snakes?

NARRATOR 2
Bigger snakes.

NARRATOR 1
And worse than that?

NARRATOR 2
More than one bigger snake.

NARRATOR 1
I’m talking about bears.

NARRATOR 2
I love bears.

NARRATOR 1
Bears don’t love you. Bears want to kill you. And eat you. And then make little forts out of your
bones.

NARRATOR 2
I don’t like them anymore.
39

NARRATOR 1
In Shakespeare, bears are fatal. Let’s take a look at this scene from A Winter’s Tale.

NARRATOR 2
Never heard of it.

NARRATOR 1
A Winter’s Tale is one of Shakespeare’s “problem” plays, by which we mean, plays that are not
very good. It’s got a princess, it’s a got a mother who gets turned to stone and it has
Shakespeare’s worst creation: a clown for no apparent reason. In this scene, Antigonus has
kidnapped a baby and sailed to the coast of Bohemia, which is a land-locked country. And he’s
about to be eaten.
ANTIGONUS enters, holding a baby.

ANTIGONUS (to the baby)


Come, poor babe:
I have heard, but not believed
The spirits o’ the dead
May walk again.
Farewell!
About to set the baby down.
The day frowns more and more: thou’rt like to have
A lullaby too rough: I never saw the heavens so dim by the day.
A BEAR roars off-stage.
A savage clamour!
Well may I get aboard! This is the chase:
I am gone forever.
The BEAR enters, growls and raises its terrifying paws.
ANTIGONUS throws the baby at it and runs.
The BEAR chases him off.

SHEPHERD enters.

SHEPHERD
What have we here! Mercy on ‘s, a barne, a very pretty barne!
CLOWN enters, obnoxiously.

CLOWN
Hello! I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land!
But I am not to say it is a sea, for it is now the sky; betwixt the firmament and it you cannot
thrust a bodkin’s point.
CLOWN bows for applause. Waits for a laugh track. NARRATOR 1 and 2 laugh
uproariously.

SHEPHERD
What.
40

CLOWN
I would you did but see how it chafes, how it rages, how it takes up the shore! But that’s not the
point.
CLOWN bows for more applause. Waits for laughs.

SHEPHERD
Yeah the baby was just lying here.
BEAR returns, perhaps snacking on a severed limb of ANTIGONUS.

BEAR
Can I ask a question here?

SHEPHERD
Ah it’s a bear!

BEAR
Yeah I get that a lot. Hold on. So… this dude throws a baby at me – why don’t I eat the baby?

NARRATOR 2
Bears don’t talk.

BEAR
I just don’t understand my motivation.
ANTIGONUS returns, perhaps missing a limb.

ANTIGONUS
I thought this was about how to survive a Shakespeare play?

NARRATOR 1
All right stop.

BEAR
Babies are tasty. And they don’t fight as much.

NARRATOR 1
Let’s take this back and show exactly how to avoid random bear attack for the sake of narrative
convenience.
SHEPHERD and CLOWN exit, followed by a BEAR. One of them tosses the baby back to
ANTIGONUS.

ANTIGONUS enters.

ANTIGONUS
The day frowns more and more: thou’rt like to have
A lullaby too rough: I never saw the heavens so dim by the day.
41

BEAR enters.

BEAR
Rarrr.

ANTIGONUS
A savage clamour!

BEAR
Clamour. Rarr.

ANTIGONUS
Eat this baby instead!
Throws the baby at the BEAR, but he knocks it aside.

BEAR
Nope.
SHEPHERD enters, finds baby.

SHEPHERD
What have we here! Mercy on ‘s, a barne, a very pretty barne!

ANTIGONUS
Eat the Shepherd instead!

BEAR
Rarrrr.
SHEPHERD throws the baby, and it’s caught by the CLOWN entering.

CLOWN
Hello! I have seen two such sights, by sea and by land!
But I am not to say it is a sea!

SHEPHERD
Eat the clown instead!

BEAR
I don’t like clowns.

SHEPHERD
No one does! That’s why you should eat him!

CLOWN
Hey!
BEAR advances on the CLOWN.
42

SHEPHERD
Seriously! You’re a clown living in a forest in the middle of nowhere! There is literally no good
reason for you to exist except to be bear food!

BEAR
I want a better motivation! I hate that bears are stereotyped as killing machines We’re cuddly.

ANTIGONUS
How about we all become a family and raise this baby together?

SHEPHERD
I love that.

BEAR
Me too.

ANTIGONUS
But also eat the Clown first.
BEAR chases CLOWN off-stage.

NARRATOR 2
Method Seven: Befriend wild animals and raise children with them.

8. Be friends with animals

NARRATOR 1
And it’s not just violent and scary animals that you should be friends with. Lots of other animals
can be helpful in surviving Shakespeare.

NARRATOR 2
Method 8!
Holds up a sign
Be friends with animals.

NARRATOR 1
Let’s say you’re about to do something stupid.

NARRATOR 2
That happens to me all the time.

NARRATOR 1
And imagine you’re king of England. An animal can be very helpful.
LEAR enters.

LEAR
43

Tell me, my daughters,--


Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,--
Which of you shall we say doth love us most?
FRANCESCA THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT LLAMA enters, stands next to LEAR.
Wait, don’t answer that. Let me pet my emotional support llama first.
He strokes his emotional support llama.
Oh this is soothing. This is very soothing. I feel better about approaching middle-age.
Sorry daughters, that was a terrible idea.

NARRATOR 1
See? Crisis averted!

NARRATOR 2
And even if you do destroy your legacy by splitting your kingdom between three daughters who
try to kill each other, an emotional support animal would be very helpful.
LEAR enters, in a storm, driven to madness.

LEAR
Blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow!
You cataracts and hurricanoes, spout
Till you have drench’d our steeples!
He stumbles about.
I am bound
Upon a wheel of fire, that mine own tears
Do scald like molten lead.
FRANCESCA THE EMOTIONAL SUPPORT LLAMA enters.
Wait hold on. My emotional support llama has arrived.
He strokes her.
Oh I’m feeling better. Things are looking up.

NARRATOR 1
And it’s not just fictional kings that could use animal friends.

NARRATOR 2
Real ones too.

NARRATOR 1
Take Dick 3 for instance.

NARRATOR 2
Richard. His name is Richard.

NARRATOR 1
Right.
RICHARD 3 enters, with CATESBY. He’s badly wounded.
44

RICHARD 3
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

CATESBY
Withdraw, my lord; I’ll help you to a horse.

RICHARD 3
Slave, I have set my life upon a cast –

CATESBY
WHOAH. Rude.

RICHARD 3
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain today instead of him.
A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!

CATESBY
I was totally going to get you a horse but then you called me a slave so I’m pretty offended by
you right now. Find your own dang horse.
CATESBY exits.

RICHARD 3
My kingdom for a horse!
HORSE enters.

HORSE
Did someone offer an unreasonable exchange for a horse?

RICHARD 3
Me! Me! I’m dying out here!

HORSE
Hop on, Richard. Ride me.

RICHARD 3
Um…

HORSE
I’m a horse!

RICHARD
A what?
45

HORSE
A HORSE.

RICHARD
Oh, okay.
RICHARD hops on.

HORSE
And now I’m also king of England.

RICHARD
Wait, what?

HORSE
A deal is a deal. From this day forth I proclaim a new kingdom – ruled by horses – bring me the
royal oats, and apples, and those little sugar cubes!

NARRATOR 1
And English history would’ve been very different if a talking horse was in charge.
CATESBY stumbles in, with blinders on.

CATESBY
My Lord, the people are growing weary of being hitched to wagons all the time. They cannot
carry the load.

HORSE
Oh I’m so sad. That seems so unfair. Richard!
RICHARD enters, with a saddle on him.
I feel like going for a refreshing ride in the countryside.

RICHARD
Please, sire, I cannot carry you any longer. My bones are weak. My back is broken. May I have
some more rest?

HORSE
I say thee neigh.

RICHARD
But sire –

HORSE
I say thee neigh! Let us go to the human races. I’m hoping to win a trifecta this time.
HORSE puts on a funny hat.
See this funny hat? It’s a tradition.

CATESBY
46

But none of the humans can carry their horse jockeys. They keep collapsing and dying.

HORSE
Oh gee I’m so sad. GIDDYUP.

RICHARD
Oh if only I could back in time and never ask for a horse! They’re terrible.

NARRATOR 1
You’re in luck! We shall give you a second chance!

RICHARD
Yes!
RICHARD casts off his saddle and assumes the position with CATESBY he was at earlier.

RICHARD
Slave, I have set my life upon a cast –

CATESBY
WHOAH. You’re still being a jerk about this?!

RICHARD
And I will stand the hazard of the die:
I think there be six Richmonds in the field;
Five have I slain today instead of him.
A jet pack! A jet pack! My kingdom for a jet pack!
Someone throws a jet pack at RICHARD.
Ha ha suckers!
He flies off.

NARRATOR 2
Yeah that works better.

9. Relationship Counseling

NARRATOR 1
But what happens if you’re not about to be killed by an animal and your name isn’t even on the
title of the play?

NARRATOR 2
Then your problem might be… other people.

NARRATOR 1
Other people are a problem.

NARRATOR 2
47

Not a fan of other people.

NARRATOR 1
Method 9!

NARRATOR 2
Relationship counseling!
DESDEMONA and EMILIA enter, with OTHELLO.

OTHELLO
Get you to bed on the instant; I will be returned
Forthwith: dismiss your attendant there: look it be done.

DESDEMONA
Sure I guess.
OTHELLO exits.

EMILIA
How goes it now? He looks gentler than he did.

DESDEMONA
OMG, can I just tell you Emilia that Othello is being a total nightmare right now!

EMILIA
Oh man.

DESDEMONA
He just ordered me to go to bed.
Calling out
I’M NOT GOING TO BED CAUSE I’M NOT YOUR DAUGHTER, CREEP.

EMILIA
Is it wise to provoke your husband so?

DESDEMONA
I don’t care. Whatever. What’s he gonna do?
Calling out
I’M JUST GONNA HANG OUT WITH MY FRIEND EMILIA AND WE’RE GONNA HAVE
FUN TOGETHER. You want some popcorn?

EMILIA
Totally.

DESDEMONA
Isn’t it weird how my husband is Othello and your husband is Iago, who’s like…
48

EMILIA
What about Iago?

DESDEMONA
You know what I’m saying?

EMILIA
What’s wrong with Iago?

DESDEMONA
Nothing’s wrong with Iago if you’re into that kind of thing.

EMILIA
What kind of thing?

DESDEMONA
Um…

EMILIA
He’s very handsome in a… not normally attractive kind of way.
IAGO enters with OTHELLO elsewhere. IAGO is hideous.

OTHELLO
Chicks, man.

IAGO
I know.

OTHELLO
I’m so over them!

IAGO
I hear you, brother.
OTHELLO gives him a look.
I mean, not like, brother brother, but like… like yay.

OTHELLO
I tell her to do one thing and she’s giving me attitude.

IAGO
For real. Plus, she’s totally hanging out with Cassio all the time. Like all the time. Talking about
how cute he is, and how nice he is, and he’s totally not like her husband.

OTHELLO
She doesn’t even like Cassio.
49

IAGO
Not what I heard, dawg. I mean dog.

OTHELLO
What have you heard?

IAGO
I heard she gave him your handkerchief.

OTHELLO
So?

IAGO
Don’t you know what happens when your girl gives a handkerchief to some other dude? Aw
man. That’s sad.

OTHELLO
What happens? What is it? It’s just a handkerchief.

IAGO
It’s never just a handkerchief. I feel for you. I do. I used to think you were cool. Now
everybody’s laughing at you.
He shakes his head sadly –
Sorry, dawg.
Exits.

OTHELLO (to himself)


Did she really give it to Cassio? Cassio is a loser. Cassio’s like the dumbest person I know.
DESDEMONA enters.

DESDEMONA
What’s up, baby?

OTHELLO
Where is it?!

DESDEMONA
Where’s what?

OTHELLO
Where’s my handkerchief? The one I gave to you?

DESDEMONA
Um… do you have a cold or something?

OTHELLO
50

I just want to see the handkerchief. It’s a very special handkerchief.

DESDEMONA
I used it. To blow my nose.

OTHELLO
What?!

DESDEMONA
It’s a hanky!

OTHELLO
A magic hanky! My Mom got that hanky! From like a wizard! It has spells woven into it!

DESDEMONA
It felt pretty soft when I blew my nose.

OTHELLO
This is a joke to you?! You just go and blow your nose in a special magic hanky from my Mom!
You’re just like your mother!

DESDEMONA
You’re clingy and insecure!

OTHELLO
Insecure?!

DESDEMONA
Yeah dude. Get over yourself!

OTHELLO
I want you to tattoo my name on your wrist.

DESDEMONA
No!

OTHELLO
If you really loved me you would tattoo my name on your wrist! Eighty point font! With cool
flourishes and what-not!

DESDEMONA
NOT DOING IT! YOU’RE A JEALOUS CREEP!

OTHELLO
I WANT MY HANDKERCHIEF BACK!
NARRATOR 2 enters.
51

NARRATOR 2
Let’s freeze this. Just so you know – Iago kills Emilia
IAGO mimes stabbing EMILIA
Othello kills Desdemona –
OTHELLO mimes choking DESDEMONA.
Othello then kills Iago
OTHELLO mimes stabbing IAGO.
– and then Othello kills himself.
OTHELLO mimes stabbing himself.

NARRATOR 1
How could this be prevented?
GAIL enters.
With communication.

GAIL
Othello, Desdemona, let’s have a seat.
They sit on opposite sides of the couch, or in different chairs, not looking at each other.

DESDEMONA
I can’t even with him right now. He’s out of control.

GAIL
Whoah. Whoah. You need to breathe.

DESDEMONA
Exactly! That’s what I’m worried about.

GAIL
First, I want us to start by hugging these soft fuzzy pillows.
She hands out soft fuzzy pillows to DESDEMONA and OTHELLO. OTHELLO grips his
like a bomb. DESDEMONA uses hers as a pointer.
As a relationship counselor, I want us to share our feelings in a safe space.

OTHELLO
Life is pain. There is no safe space.

GAIL
Othello? You’ll get your turn. Desdemona, what would you like to say to your husband?

DESDEMONA
I’m not cheating on you, dude.

OTHELLO
WHERE IS THE HANKY THEN?!
52

GAIL
Othello. Is the hanky more important than your love?

OTHELLO
It’s a really special hanky. My Mom gave it to me. Plus it’s magic.

GAIL
Is it really magic?

OTHELLO
It’s really soft.

GAIL
And wouldn’t you want Desdemona to use it to blow her nose?

OTHELLO
SHE GAVE IT TO CASSIO! WHO’S A LOSER!

DESDEMONA
What?!

OTHELLO
I LOVE THAT HANKY!

DESDEMONA
IT’S A FOLDED LINEN SQUARE, MORON!
Hits him with the fuzzy pillow.

GAIL
Desdemona? We’re trying to do without violence.

DESDEMONA
Can we have some violence?

GAIL
Othello. Can you buy her a new handkerchief?

OTHELLO
Nope. Not doing it.

DESDEMONA
It’s like fifteen ninety-nine on Amazon.

OTHELLO
It’s the thought that counts! I am very attached to my linens!
53

GAIL
Okay. What I’m hearing here is that you are speaking different love languages. Othello, your
love language is inanimate objects. Desdemona, your love language is “not being falsely accused
of sexist nonsense.”

DESDEMONA
Thank you. Maybe somebody stole the handkerchief.

OTHELLO
Who would do that?

DESDEMONA
Um… your weaselly little friend Iago who lies constantly and is a total creepshow?

OTHELLO
Iago wouldn’t lie to me.

DESDEMONA
Dude.

GAIL
Dude.

DESDEMONA
DUDE.

GAIL
DUDE.

OTHELLO
All right fine. He might be lying.

DESDEMONA
Thank you.

OTHELLO
I love you, honey.

DESDEMONA
I love you. Let’s kill Iago instead of each other.

OTHELLO
You got it, Pumpkin.

NARRATOR 1
54

Happy ending!

NARRATOR 2
For everyone except Iago.

10. Avoid Yourself.

NARRATOR 1
One thing is clear: You can get stabbed, poisoned, eaten by ants, killed by bears, trampled, etc…
in a Shakespeare play, but the single greatest danger is –

NARRATOR 2
Yourself.

NARRATOR 1
That’s right.

NARRATOR 2
You are the biggest threat to you.
BOTTOM enters, overacting terribly, with a knife.

BOTTOM
O! Wherefore, Nature, didst thou lions frame?
Since lion vile hath here deflower’d my dear?
Which is-no, no – which was the fairest dame
That liv’d, that love’d, that like’d, that look’d with cheer
Come tears, confound;
Out, sword and wound
The pap of Pyarmus:
Ay, that left pap
Where heart doth hop
Thus die I, thus.
Stabs himself.
Thus.
Stabs himself again.
Thus.
Stabs himself a third time. Maybe runs around. Falls over.
ROMEO enters, with poison.

ROMEO
Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,
Gorged with the dearest morsel of the eart,
Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open
And, in despite, I’ll cram thee with more food!
Here’s to my love!
He’s about to drink poison.
55

O true apothecary!
Thus, with a kiss, I die.
BOTTOM interrupts. ROMEO watches, annoyed.

BOTTOM
Now I am dead.
Gets up.
Now am I fled.
Dies again.

JULIET staggers in, with a dagger.

JULIET
O happy dagger!
This is thy sheath;
There rust and let me die
She’s about to stab herself but BOTTOM interrupts. JULIET watches, annoyed.

BOTTOM
My soul is in the sky.
Gets up again.
Tongue, lose thy light!

LADY MACBETH enters with knife.

LADY MACBETH
Oh light! Please take me! I deserve to die!
Now take me light! Now cover my darkness!
Oh woe is me! Oh fie! My life! My life!
She’s about to kill herself when BOTTOM gets in her way.

BOTTOM
Moon, take thy flight!
Now die.
Dies.

OPHELIA enters.

OPHELIA
I don’t even get any lines – I kill myself off-stage. So I guess I just throw myself in a pond or
whatever and –
BOTTOM gets up and gets in front of her.

BOTTOM
Dieeeeee.
He dies again.
56

Other Shakespeare characters – with placards announcing who they are – CLEOPATRA,
BRUTUS, MARC ANTONY, CASSIUS, PORTIA, GONERIL, TIMON – enter, all about to kill
themselves.
BOTTOM gets in front of them again.

BOTTOM
DIEEEEEEEE.
He dies triumphantly.
Gets up.
DIIIIIIIIEEEEEEEEEE.
Dies even more triumphantly.
Everyone watches him, annoyed.
Pause.

ROMEO
Like, I don’t even feel like it any more.

JULIET
Right?

LADY MACBETH
He totally ruined it for everybody.

OPHELIA
Guess I won’t throw myself in the pond then.
They all leave, sad.

NARRATOR 1
When in doubt, the best way to avoid death in Shakespeare…

NARRATOR 2
Is to be in a comedy.
BOTTOM gets up.

BOTTOM
ACTING!

Lights down.

End of play.