Monday, 23 April 2012

Shakespearean Flash - 'Good Night, Sweet Prince.' By Virginia Moffatt

You gave me rosemary – that’s for remembrance. I laid it under my pillow: prayed, loved, remembered you. My dreams infused with pine scent and memories of my sweet prince.

You gave me pansies – they’re for thoughts. I placed them by my bed, so to wake with thoughts of you: green girl hopes, that the tenderness of my affection could overcome your black melancholy.

You gave me violets - sweets for the sweet. My brother warned me such gifts were trifles. My father, that I should disbelieve your vows. My disobedient heart pressed the petals close in love for you.

You garlanded me with daisies, leading me to the shallow brook, where the willow weeps into the water. Before heaven I pledged myself to you. Lying down with you a maid, I rose a maid no more.

Now madness has overtaken you. Your eyes, that once looked on me with love, are infused with hateful stares. You lance me with your words: bid me make alternative vows, pretend you know me not...

You tease me with sweet cruelty, forcing your head into my lap in plain sight of all. You speak in lewd tones, exposing the secrets of our intimacy for those with ears to hear and understand

Worse, they say you killed my father. My poor, kind, father, at work to do his master’s will. Your lance pierced the curtain, extinguishing his life’s blood, lacerating the hopes and dreams of this green girl.

Your madness infects me now. Your love once thrilled my blood – but now your ramblings possess me. I shriek, I weep, I wail: lamenting loss of father, lover, honour. I watch them watch in horror. For I am lost to all.

Tonight, the fever has abated. I look to the crescent moon, which once filled my heart with trembling hopes and loves. There are no vows left to make, all promises are broken. For you have proved as faithless as they said.

I will deck myself with such flowers as I find by the bank of the brook: daisies, nettles, and purples. I will bid you good night, my sweet prince, and lay myself down this one last time.

There’s rosemary- that’s for remembrance – pray remember me.

Shakespearean Flash - 'Poster Boy' By Kath Lloyd

“I think the frog. Definitely, the frog.”

“Don’t you think it lacks something of the cuteness of the others? It’s the having no fur. And being green”

“Is that what the murder of Julius Caesar means to you? Cuteness and fur? Death usually does lack cuteness. “

“And the green?”

“What colour would you suggest for a slaying?”

“Well it’s just that the advert is meant to entice people in, get them to come and see the play. What about the one with 2 kittens? An all feline cast would be a first.”

“Remember when we tried Richard III with just dogs? The lead puppies fell asleep and missed their cues, Lady Anne repeatedly mounted the Lancastrians and ‘A poodle, a poodle, my kingdom for a poodle!’ lacked the gravitas of the original.”

He had a point. The world’s first Animal Shakespeare Company was a roaring success, but early errors with larger, jungle animals had persuaded the director to work with nothing bigger than a spaniel. There was still plenty of scope for actors of course, but the seats all had to be close to the stage so audiences could see. A ferret rarely has the stage presence of a lion but at least fewer seats led to longer runs.

The wardrobe manager tried one last time. “The frog is the only one who is a female. The others are all guys, far more suitable to play Caesar don’t you think? Do we really want to veer into cross-dressing?”

“’Cross dressing’? Not one of them will be wearing garments of any kind to dress or cross-dress in. And it’s not as if you’d normally expect to see a frog’s…dangly bits…would you. Nobody will say ‘Oh, a frog without a winkle.’”

He played his trump card, all further argument moot.

“And did you see her Hamlet at Stratford?”

Shakespearean Flash - 'Cat and Dog' By Sal Page

William had finished writing. There was ink rubbed into his fingers, splatterings on his shirtsleeves and even a little up his nose. His parchment was full of words though. He smoothed the corner with his thumb and felt a puff of pride.

It was a story about a cat and a dog. They were good friends but weren’t supposed to be. They came from families who didn’t get along but they loved each other so they ran away together, travelling all the way to London.

Cat and dog got chased by a fierce, sharp-toothed bear in a forest twenty times the size of the woods around William’s house. They stayed over night on an island where they sheltered from a storm that roared around them like an angry lion. They met a daft talking wall, a grumpy king and some soldiers on horseback setting off to fight a battle in a far off country. William added a ghost, a funny jester and a princess to his story. When cat and dog arrived in London they were very tired. They found a room in the King’s palace and fell asleep.

William gazed down at his work. He was still in the story so he didn’t hear her come in. A hand snatched the parchment away. The quill fell to the floor.

‘Come William. We have business in Coventry. We must leave now.’

Mother threw the parchment on the fire and William watched the flames gather around it. All his wonderful inky words, and over an hour’s work, gone in seconds. He looked up at his mother, sighed and accepted it.

As they walked through the wood, William could see pictures in his head. He could still hear cat and dog voices. They shouted, whispered, laughed and cried. William felt what they were feeling and he knew he could recall the tale. Maybe he could write it even better next time. He remembered how cat and dog died. He wanted it to be sad at the end. Sad like his brother and sister who’d died before he was born. Making you want to start again from the beginning, even though you couldn’t.

Yes. Deliciously sad.

Shakespearean Flash - 'Strutting and Fretting' By Dan Powell

This is the short and the long of it.....

‘To be, or not to be.’ That is the question she asked herself while still just a glint in her mother’s womb. To be, she decided and nine months later, burst into the world like an idea newly formed.

‘O wonder!’ she thought, her new eyes blinking, sucking up the smiles of her parents, ‘How many goodly creatures are there here! How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world. That has such people in't!’

Growing up she bathed in time and opportunity. Her head brimmed with all she had coming to her. ‘The world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open,’ she told her Career’s Officer when asked what she wanted to achieve after leaving school.

During University and beyond, she fell for many an unsuitable man. ‘Love is blind,’ she said when friends reproved her reckless liasons, ‘Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind.’

‘Love sought is good, but giv’n unsought is better,’ her friends tried to tell her. ‘Wisely and slow; they stumble that run fast,’ they said.

But each time a lover dumped her by text, she wailed to her friends, ‘These words are razors to my wounded heart.’ And then each time she cheered, for, she said, ‘To mourn a mischief that is past and gone is the next way to draw new mischief on.’

In her thirties she met a man and lived and loved. She liked to think theirs was a marriage of true minds. The couple did not stray far from their small home and the small life they lived within it. ‘For you and I are past our dancing days,’ she said.

As her children began callously to pursue their own stories, her husband passed, leaving her to grow old alone. ‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions,’ she told the warden of the assisted living care home. ‘I learnt how sharper than a serpent's tooth it is to have a thankless child,’ she said. In the few years that remained she wore her heart upon her sleeve for daws to peck at.

And then was heard no more.

Shakespearean Flash - 'An Offer To Refuse' By Charlotte Donnelly

The summons spilled across the worktop in a mess of blood and entrails. She stared at it for a moment and then reached out for a drink, bypassing the rapidly cooling tea and reaching for something stronger. The message was clear; yet another job, yet another prophecy designed to trick some poor fool.

She swallowed the whisky and winced at the burn, remembering their first job - all those centuries before. The look of defeat on his face when he'd worked it all out! At the time, cruel warmth had curled around her heart. Now, she simply sighed and put her glass down on the counter.

Another glass and the warmth began to ease her bones. Why they couldn't just call was beyond her. They were still stuck in the past - with the smoke, the chanting, the whole get-up… She squinted and tilted her head, staring at what had once been her goat. There was change there. There was the possibility of a nice life.

She nodded decisively to herself and stood, sweeping the entrails into the trash as she set to carving up the goat. The deck would be consulted later and no doubt they'd come looking for her, but she'd be ready.

A glance at the fire had it roaring, the noise competing with the thunder overhead. So much for meeting in the rain! She laughed to herself, the witch, putting the meat in the freezer and washing her hands, clearing the side. A fresh cup of tea was made and she sipped it delicately.

The knock came at the door. One-two-three. She finished her tea, put down the cup and walked over to it, opening the door wide. The two witches glared at her from under bedraggled, rain-soaked hats.

She smiled. "Fancy a cuppa?"

The first, who had been about to open her mouth, stopped. They glanced at each other, almost uncertain.

"Uh, alright," the other said quietly.

She let them in and they sat in the warm kitchen, catching up on what they had been doing in the interim. The prophecy could wait forever. It couldn't be that important.

Shakespearean Flash - 'Trevor’s Tempest' By Rob Walton

Get the youth theatre to put on The Tempest at the same time as the Royal Shakespeare Company is in town. Whose idea was this? Get some RSC actors to watch rehearsals and get local telly to film it. Whose idea was that? Get me to give a slightly (slightly!) wooden interpretation of Prospero - but audible right at the back and word-perfect. Get my mate Trevor to play Caliban, get my mate Dave to play Ariel and get my mate Miranda to play Miranda (yes, really!).

Get Dave who plays Ariel to wear some sort of loincloth and be covered in make-up, only not the proper stuff from a theatrical supplier, but something that Trevor had found in a drawer in his dad’s garage. This make-up later made it harder to work out what had happened. Tracy, who applied it, didn’t pursue cosmetics or theatre as a profession.

Get Trevor to sort out Dave-as-Ariel’s landing gear for when he does the spirited flying through the air, off a platform and on to the mattress behind the set. Only not a fancy mattress of maybe a metre thickness, but one found in Trevor’s dad’s garage-of-plenty, off their Elaine’s bed – taken out of her room when she moved in with him who was always reading the Collected Works at the corner table in the snug (all right, maybe not always, but at least once).

So the mattress wasn’t much cop – especially because Dave, who was Ariel, didn’t know Trevor’s sister Elaine had moved back in to their parents’, gone to the Civic Theatre, took her double mattress back and swapped it for a single – which she’d nicked out the house of William (him from the snug). Dave/Ariel took off, winking at Tracy and thinking of the after-show party, before landing, noisily, on a bit of stage which wasn’t mattress. There was lots of blood, but it was hard to tell with Trevor and Tracy’s home-made make-up confusing matters.

Trevor came in for a lot of stick and frankly got a bit savage about it all. Fists were thrown, went flying. The RSC people laughed and the local telly made a half-hour documentary.