When it comes to the conditions of the human heart, William Shakespeare was something of an expert for his times. But what about our times? Would his widely-ranging views even be understood? What follows is, of course, fantasy; fantasy crafted with Shakespeare’s own words. Many thanks to NoSweatShakespeare.com for the inspiration.
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One of our enterprising interns somehow managed to wrangle an interview with world-renowned playwright, Bill Shakespeare while he was in New York City recently. The Bard, as he is affectionately known, was meeting at New York Harbor with architects and city officials to offer his ‘multitudinous” opinions and personal mind’s eye visions on the proposed construction of a New Globe Theatre, to be built on the ruins of a former military fortification erected for defense during the War of 1812. Ironically, both original structures shared an identical blueprint. Taking a break from what was suspected to be a rather lengthy and opinionated discourse on the project, the iconic Brit most graciously offered to share with our readers a few thoughts on his own difficult relationships.
GV: First of all, let me tell you what an honor this is, Mr. Shakespeare-
BS: Call me Bill! No need for such stodgy formality among we fellow scribes. And I may call you? Later for drinks perhaps? The very instant that I saw you, did my heart fly to your service.
GV: Yes, well, er, uh… this new project –
BS: We burnt the old Globe down, you know. During a performance of performance of Henry VIII. It seems we left the village idiot in charge of loading the cannon shot. Spectacular special effects for the times though. A ‘New Globe for the New World’, I believe this one should be called. Rather a catchy turn of the phrase, don’t you think?
GV: It certainly is and not surprisingly, coming from a man who is known the world over for his word craft. By some estimations, you are credited with adding as many as 3,000 words to the lexicon.
BS: That many? Truly? You know, Google is simply an amazement. Another word of mine, amazement, and most aptly does it describe my state of mind upon discovering I have more page hits than God! Brevity may be the soul of wit but the Almighty –
GV: Speaking of brevity, with your time being so limited, perhaps we could talk about your relationship with Anne Hathaway. She was, if I’ve researched correctly, quite a bit older than yourself. Is it true that –
BS: We were strange bedfellows, Annie and I. Ah, flaming youth; hot-blooded and fancy free. Our frequent dalliances were majestically seamy but, to give this devil his due, I thought nothing of the bloody consequences! I was but a long-haired youth hunting cougar!
GV: Is it true that she was with child before –
BS: Yes, yes, that is the naked truth of it: it was lust, not love which joined us together, if you’ll pardon the pun. Our hurried courtship and inauspicious nuptials were but a foregone conclusion upon discovering we had had perhaps too much of a good thing. In one fell swoop my primrose path was planted.
GV: And had she not conceived?
BS: What’s done, is done! And more sinned against than sinning, in my mind, she did not deserve to bear the brunt of what the withering public eye would condemn as disgraceful conduct. Upon the swearing of our vows, she moved in with my parents in Stratford to prepare for the child’s arrival whilst I returned to London to continue upon my acting career. We met again after the birth of our daughter.
GV: So long? But such a long-distance relationship couldn’t have been easy?
BS: Young woman, the course of true love never did run smooth! She refused to come to me in London. What was I to do? Besides, a wife and three children would eat me out of house and home! The milk of human kindness which flowed from my family’s fount kept them in a far better circumstance.
GV: Excuse me, Bill, but did you say you and your wife had three children?”
BS: Yes, indeed! And of course, the grandchildren…”
GV: But I was under the impression that you only married Anne to save her reputation and that the two of you never actually set up housekeeping together –
BS: (thundering) Did I not mention our ‘towering passion’?
GV: No, sir, you most certainly did not. I’ve got my notes right here and nowhere do you say anything about a ‘towering passion’ for your wife. In fact, if the rumors are to be believed, you carried on several ill-hidden affairs with any number of women and are suspected of a scandalous liaison with a fellow member of your theatre troupe.
BS: Ah, ha! Might I remind you that women were barred by the law from acting upon the stage.
GV: Therein, perhaps, lies the reason it was considered so particularly scandalous…?
BS: So barefaced and bareassed in the light of day now, is it?
(With fortuitous timing, room service delivers a proper English high tea, allowing both parties to regain composure and civility.)
GV: So the facts as I understand them are that you began an affair with an older woman and she winds up pregnant. You, an 18 year old with a self-described ‘heart of gold’ – marries her, sends her to live with your parents who care for her and your children while you head off to become the be all and end all of the London stage and playwright to the stars. How am I doing so far?
BS: My dear young exasperating woman, the whole world’s a stage and I but playing out the role which Dame Fortune laid before me! I’ll have you know that upon retiring from my long and illustrious career – for which I was majestically rewarded, let me add – I bought Annie a veritable palace where we spent her final years resting blissfully upon the family bosom. (Wipes a tear on cue.)
GV: One last question, if I may?
BS: Just one?
GV: Looking back, do you believe that Anne and the children were as content in the arrangement as you seemed to be?
(The Bard’s eyes take on a faraway look.)
BS: Lonely. My word, too! (He suddenly leaps to his feet.) Bah! Enough of all this. What’s past is prologue! Come. Let us make haste and wander the new city’s streets together until the witching hour –
GV: I’m not sure that’s a very good idea…
BS: There is nothing neither good or bad but thinking makes it so.
GV: Gee, I’m truly flattered but-
BS: Lady, you doth protest too much…!
Editor’s note: We vehemently deny the rumors that hotel security personnel were called to escort our young intern safely out of the building. Boarding a jet at JFK upon his return to the UK, the playwright released a brief statement: ‘Listen to many, speak to few’.