Thursday, December 8, 2011

Shakespeare's Time

Last week, my dad and I did some research on the times of Shakespeare, and his history. I know quite a lot about him now, and the exercise for this week was to write a short piece about a day in his life. I chose to set this in the early years of the 1600's, around 1603. Shakespeare was by then a well known playwright, and he was living with two French Huguenots in London, while frequently visiting his wife and children in Stratford. This is a fictional day in his life, where he discovers some of the words for his play The Tempest...

William Shakespeare awoke to the painful screeching of the matron next door, and her unruly cat who insisted on echoing her. 
“Why you lumpish toad! Sitting an’ singing to yerself with not a care in the world! Beef-witted barnacle!” 
Will tucked that slew of insults away into his mind, then yawned prodigiously and climbed out of bed. Candle stubs littered the room, as well as quill tips, crumpled papers, and stinking clothes spattered with ink. He peered out the window, glancing disgustedly at the grey rooftops, grey streets, grey people, and today, the grey sky. He cursed London briefly as fat raindrops began to spill from the sky. It was going to be a long walk to work. 
Downstairs in the dingy kitchen, maids were working away and being chastised by the cook. Shakespeare smiled to himself as she berated Audrey, the new serving girl, for spoiling the eggs. Another thought to slip into his brain, the melting pot of ideas. 
In the dining room, Mr. and Mrs. Mountjoy were speaking quietly in French and eating breakfast. Their daughter Helena was in the tire shop with some excuse, making moony eyes at the new apprentice, whose name was Stephen. As William entered the room, the Mountjoys looked up and simultaneously said “Bonjour William.” 
Shakespeare nodded and sat at the table, munching on the plate of eggs, which Audrey had not spoiled. “Good day to you Christopher. How was your rest last night?” 
“Ah, my sleeping. I had a dream so beautiful, so perfect, that when I waked, I all but cried to dream again,” said Mountjoy in his distinctive French accent, smiling placidly and thinking back. “The clouds opened and threw riches down upon me. It was...wonderful.”
Will thought this over for several seconds, turning the phrases over in his mind as he so often did. Hmm, he thought, that could be good for a play someday.
All too soon, it was time for Shakespeare to pull his coat over his head and set off through the rain to the playhouse. It was damp and cold, and Will shivered as he pushed through the masses of humanity on either side of him. Living in London was a great way to learn how to multitask. Will shoved against the crowd, listening to jeers and catcalls, hammers ringing, people singing and shouting, lovers quarreling, cats squalling, and carts trundling up and down the streets. He grasped his bag close for fear of pickpockets, held his jacket up to shield him from the rain, took erratic steps to avoid piles of waste, and mulled the morning’s events over in his mind. 
When William Shakespeare arrived at the playhouse, he could still hear Christopher’s voice in his ears. With a little tweaking, they could be magic, thought Will. 
Stepping out of the rain, he could hear them playing over and over in his mind, music to his writer’s ear. 
“The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked
I cried to dream again.” 

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