Wednesday, May 23, 2007

From the Archives: The Joys of Shakespeare (a monologue)

Note: This is a monologue Tony and I wrote for me to perform in the state drama competition our senior year. (A competition the results of which will forever be tarnished by the suspicion of questionable dealings by the drama coach of the hated Timpview.) I'm not sure if this is the final version that I actually performed or if this is just an earlier draft. At any rate, I placed third in humorous monologues and felt rather spiffy about that.

Good morning class and welcome to Advanced Shakespeare 205. I am Professor Richardson. Shakespeare is my specialty, but I also teach cooking and twentieth century German history. In this course we will sample the complete works of William Shakespeare. Now, I know your registration manual told you to bring a complete works to class today. Well, I'm here to tell ya you can turn those in for a refund, 'cause we're not gonna bore ourselves with that garbage. Instead, we will be using the fine works of Cliff's Notes. You'll need to have all 36 editions by next week. Another mandatory course material will be to read my book, Why I Am Cooler Than Your Mom, and recommend it to two friends.

Please open your syllabus to the class rules and follow along with me. Rule number one: There will be absolutely no contestation of the instructor's personal opinions. Is that understood? I may not know much about art, but I can call a spade a spade.

Rule number two: Tardy students will be held responsible for missed instructions. It's nothing personal, but if I have to haul my sorry case out of bed every morning so can you.

Rule number three: It is required that you provide the instructor with his lunch at least three times within the term. I know the course description says it should be Shakespearean or Medieval, but frankly, I prefer Italian. You know, with those little cheese things, mmm . . . those are good. Anyway, those who do not meet this requirement will have to repeat the course.

With no further ado about nothing (looks around waiting for a laugh) . . . let's get started shall we? Before we learn about the Bard's works let's learn a little bit about the man himself. I have prepared a brief biographical sketch. Please excuse the cards, I've been busy with my other classes and haven't had time to memorize the lecture. (Opens briefcase.) What the? I am sorry, it appears my notes are out of order. (Sorts notes.)

[Reads monologue from RSC that mixes up Shakespeare's history with Hitler's.]

Any questions? Yes, you're right, it appears I have mixed up my notes from the other class. Thank you. However, in pointing this out you have already violated rule number one! Find yourself another class wise guy! (Watches student leave.) Any other questions? No? Good.
Let's get started then. Today we will discuss The Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet and Troilus and Cressida. Now I know this seems like a lot, but I plan to cover at least three plays each lecture. That way we don't have to get caught up in all the sordid details. Now because none of you have the required materials, you will just have to watch me today. I will act them out for you.

First, The Taming of the Shrew. (Picks up Cliff's Notes.) Act one, scene one, outside the town of Padua. Enter Lucentio and Tranio. "Hey Lucentio, how we gonna win the heart of the fair Bianca?" "Whoa dude, she's some hot sauce. She's got it goin' on. She superfly." Next scene, enter Hortensio, Gremio, Baptista and Bianca. "Gentlemen, importune me no further. Nobody will wed Bianca until her elder sister Katherine is wed." "She's far too rough for me." "Why should I marry Katherine when I have this beauty before my eyes." "Oh you." (Laughs.) "Kiss me Kate" and they live happily ever after.

Okay, moving on to Hamlet. (Pauses as if listening to student.) I know I'm paraphrasing. I'm trying to make it easier for you guys to palate. One more comment like that from you and you'll be out with that other wise guy. Once again, moving on to Hamlet. (Grabs book.) Act one, scene one. A palace in Denmark. Enter Hamlet. "Oh that this too too solid flesh would melt away and I could get off this lousy dust farm. But Uncle Owen won't let me." Enter Ghost of Hamlet's father. "I am your father." "No, it's not true. It's impossible!" "Search your feelings, you know it to be true." "NOOOOOOO!" What, what? (Pauses as if listening to student.) No this is Hamlet alright. I'm doing Hamlet. I don't even know what this Star Wars garbage is, alright? Alright, that's two for you wisenheimer; find yourself another class. In fact that goes for anybody who thinks they know Shakespeare better than I do. Use your eyes, who has the degree? I do! I busted my hump at Oxford and Cambridge for half of my bleeding life to get this thing. This proves I know everything. I know everything. And anyone who doesn't think I know everything can get out of my class! Get out of my class! Get out, get out! (Watches as all students leave, but one.) Thanks for staying Mom.


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