The Dead Writer’s Almanac: April 26, 2020: A Q&A With William Shakespeare

by Giles Gallows

GALLOWS

Gentle reader. Tonight we have a special treat: a Q&A with the man called the Bard of Avon, England’s National Poet, the world’s greatest dramatist (according to Wikipedia), none other than William Shakespeare, author of 39 plays, 154 sonnets, creator of two long narrative poems, inventor of 1,700 new words (according to Shakespeare Online, a media property that supports the Shakespeare family today), lover of scores of ladies and a few gentlemen…

SHAKESPEARE

(yawning, stretching)

Hello … Giles.

GG

Good evening, William!

WS

Baronet Shakespeare.

GG

Forgive me, sir.

WS

Baronet, not Sir. Never got the Knight gig. I died before King James got around to doing it. Too busy translating the bible. Moron.

GG

So, Baronet. I understand a certain someone celebrated his birthday just a few days ago?

WS

(stretching again, visibly in pain)

Call me Bill. And yes, happy frikkin birthday to me. I’m 404 years old now. My lumbago is killing me. You think the kids would buy me a heating pad. Those wanton, selfish knaves.

GG

Well, we are certainly honored to have you here with us on The Dead Writer’s Almanac.

WS

Why? Because I'm not dead?

GG

The sheer genius and volume of your work.

WS

Volume, yes. But genius? I’ll let you in on a little secret, Giles. Nobody understands my plays. Not the directors, not the actors, not the audiences. Hell, I don’t even understand them.

GG

I am sorry to hear that.

WS

(chortling, Elizabethan style)

You’re sorry? Listen up, Giles. It’s because nobody understands them that they’ve been such a hit for the last four centuries. Each year — except this year of course, with the new plague and all — millions of dollars are spent producing those dreadful plays, with mind-numbing scenery, ridiculous sword fights choreographed by idiots, grown men prancing around in lady tights, all designed to distract you from the uncomfortable fact that you have no fucking clue what the play’s all about. (beat) I’m a very rich man, Giles.

GG

But surely you jest!

WS

(guffawing, Elizabethan style)

I jest not. It’s quite a racket, Giles.

GG

But what about all those new words?

WS

Actually, there are only 27 new words. Like “bandit.” I have a great thesaurus.

GG

And the sonnets? They are so lovely.

WS

Stole them all. From Chris Marlowe. He passed out after an all-night mead kegger in his garret. They were lying underneath a half-eaten mutton sandwich. It would have been better with mayo.

GG

I am crestfallen.

WS

Say what?

GG

Crestfallen. I am sad and disappointed.

WS

(stroking his porridge-crusted beard, he pulls out a quill)

Nice word. I will need to claim it.

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Writer, amateur blacksmith, future Pope.