Friday, July 31, 2009

Bill the Bard

The kids are in Shakespeare camp this week, which means they walk around saying, “Forsooth” and “Prithee.” Both of those words sound well enough, but do they actually mean anything? Are they some Shakespearean version of “Yo” and “Dude”?

“Forsooth.” Is it some kind of slang that means “I have something for the local witch?” In other words, “Here’s an apple For the Soothsayer.”

And what about “prithee.” Is it some kind of abbreviation for “I pray thee,” which we’d render “Hey, dude, can you do this for me?”

This year Luke has some interesting lines. He plays Leontes the intractable tyrant king of Sicilia in A Winter’s Tale. He yells at a poor girl and calls her “dame Parlet.” I asked Luke what it means. He told me, “I have no idea.” But it does sound cool, especially when yelled.

Personally I think it’s from the French “parler,” which means “to talk.” So, bringing it up-to-date, he could call her “Lady Magpie.” Still, Leontes is “the pot calling the kettle black.” All he does is stride around the stage, talking and yammering and nattering some more. During one point in rehearsals, Luke couldn’t remember a monologue and said, “Whatever—Leontes just blathers on for a while.”

Ariel’s role is a little more interesting. Her character Hermione is nine months pregnant is the first couple of scenes, “dead” for most of the middle, and shows up as a living statue in the last act. Being dead did cut down on her lines quite a bit.

Jacob plays Polixenes, the King of Bohemia. Jacob’s claim to fame is that he wants to disinherit his son, beat Luke’s beautiful daughter to make her homely, and kill various people—and he’s not considered the villain in play. (Luke’s the villain and has even hired a hitman to knock-off Polixenes, Jacob. Yep, the mob’s got nothing on Shakespeare.)

At least, Matt’s not walking around quoting his favorite line from last year, “You are an ass!” Though this year like last, he plays the comic relief in the play. He’s the one character who knows what’s going on, who’s doing it, and why. Despite his wisdom, he’s always being pick-pocketed and mooning after a girl named Mopsa who’s about a foot taller than him. But that doesn’t matter, as Bill the Bard says, “The course of true love never did run smooth.”


  1. Hmm...I believe the actual word is "Partlet." Luke's been omitting the "t" in his pronounciation. But, actually, your interpretation of the word would make sense because it certainly suits Paulina's character.

  2. Well, Paulina (Clarissa) is not just a "poor girl". She's the only character in the play with enough backbone to stand up to Leontes. Every one else either cowers in fear or flees the country. Paulina, however, tells me what I'm doing is wrong and ignores me when I insult her and threaten to kill her.

  3. You got the line wrong it's "Away you are an ass. You are an ass."

    and Mopsa is so not a foot taller than me.

  4. You need to document this!

    Grace dook

  5. You should check out "". It's an awesome site that has translated some of Shakespeare's Plays into "modern" text. Heh heh.

    Oh, and Matthew, Mopsa IS a foot taller than you. Actually, I wouldn't be suprised if she was two feet taller!!