In 2007 the SquareWrights of Stratford, CT, announced that the spring "prompt" for the April show was "Shakespeare." Both my husband and I were members, and we decided to write plays for this event. How could we resist? Phil Schaefer, my husband, wrote an extremely funny comedy called "Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth." He modestly hoped he'd get "at least a couple of laughs." Instead, the actors had trouble pacing their lines, once they had an audience, because the laughter never fully subsided. I know how difficult it was to time the delivery because he had written a part for me. And I would think the laugh was subsiding and open my mouth to speak, but, then, have to wait because the joke had re-landed and a whole new bunch of people were laughing--and not just chuckling quietly either. (The play was later picked up and moved to The Town Players of New Canaan for a short run.)
Mine was called "The Great Will Shakespeare Speaks." I wish I could tell you what gave me the idea to write a monologue for Shakespeare. I really don't know what got into me. Perhaps I figured I'd try, and then think of something else if it didn't work. But it did work. Shakespeare was very gregarious, noting he was in the company of fellow playwrights. He was nostalgic about his years working in the theater. And he was horrified with some of the things happening in the world today, nothing political, just the general decline in basic human and aesthetic values. It came trippingly off the tongue and played beautifully. My actor, Will Rogers, was amazing. He had the audience in the palm of his hand. They listened very quietly and intently. They laughed when he joked. They laughed at the end when he left and then returned with an after-thought. The audience not only followed it all, they loved it all.