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10 Reasons Why Hamlet is Totally Gay

By

Grant MacDermott

Latest Draft 03/20/2013

Grant MacDermott 613 Massachusetts Avenue #1 Boston, MA 02118

201-674-5605

grant.macdermott@gmail.com

Cast of Characters

Mister Sherman:

30’s. White.

Stanley:

18. Male. Black.

Staci:

17. Female. Black.

ReShawn:

19. Male. Black.

A Note On Speech:

Each line should be completed and said fully. However natural overalapping should be encouraged for pace, but used with caution for clarity of jokes, beats, and information.

 

A classroom

Scene

Time

The last class of the day.

A classroom. A few empty desks unpopulated. A blackboard and a teacher’s desk are toward one side of the stage. There are a few odd looking dolls on the teacher desk. MISTER SHERMAN stands at the front of the class. The three students all sit in desks near one another. A huge burst of laughter from the students then the lights up. It is in reaction to something MISTER SHERMAN has just said.

STANLEY Nah nah nah, but Mistuh S, for real though! Hamlet is mad gay, son.

RESHAWN Yeah, yo, I mean like dumb gay!

STACI Straight up gay Mistuh S!

MISTER SHERMAN Whoa whoa whoa, hold on. This is appalling! I will not have that sort of language in my classroom. We have talked about this before. This is a safe zone. Do I have to get the chart and dolls out again?

STACI Oh my god, not the dolls!

RESHAWN I kinda like the dolls.

STACI You would.

RESHAWN Ya mama.

STACI You so stupid.

STANLEY

(Redirecting the conversation) Yo, but Mistuh S, like on the real, Hamlet is-- (MISTER SHERMAN gives a look) ok, sorry.

RESHAWN Yea, sorry Mistuh S.

STACI I’m sorry too.

2.

MISTER SHERMAN Thank you. Now, may we continue our conversation about the play, and not criticize one of the greatest literary and dramatic works in the history of humanity?

(The students respond overlapping)

STANLEY

A’ight.

RESHAWN

Yeah.

STACI Whateva.

MISTER SHERMAN Now, as I was saying: Hamlet is the first time we see a man on stage actually look at himself. Some say it is the birth of the "dramatic individual." From here on out we see characters truly think. Before they merely existed, never questioning themselves or their worlds. Where do we see Hamlet do this?

STANLEY He’s definitely--

MISTER SHERMAN (Warning)

Stanley!

STANLEY What? I’m just sayin’ he’s definitely mad introspective.

STACI All up in his own self conscious!

RESHAWN He does think a lot.

MISTER SHERMAN Oh I thought you were going to-- never mind. Expand on that Stanley, would you?

STANLEY I mean he asks questions. So we read Romeo and Juliet right? ’Member how I said they were stupid because they didn’t think? I was wrong. They’re stupid because they don’t ask no questions.

3.

STACI You can ask questions and still be stupid. (Notices RESHAWN is reading a comic book)

ReShawn!

RESHAWN

(Snapping to, confused) What? What happened?

STACI See?

STANLEY Anyway! They never ask, "What am I doing?" They just do. They never ask. Nope, why ask questions when I can just take a rufee from some old dude in a robe. Yeah that sounds like a good idea.

MISTER SHERMAN A lot of feelings there, Stanley. Go with that. I think it’s a great point.

STANLEY Well it ain’t my fault they stupid. Creepin’ to some girl’s window in the middle of the night.

STACI

(To STANLEY) Then how you explain tellin’ Daphne "But soft! What light through yonder locker breaks? It is the East-side and Daphne is da sun!" Ma girl was like "uhh, what?" You got shut down!

RESHAWN

(To STANLEY) You called her buttsoft?

STACI No, Re, he said she had a soft butt.

RESHAWN She does a have a big ass.

(Pause. They all look at RESHAWN)

MISTER SHERMAN (Interrupting their interruption) Stanley, continue, please, with what you were just saying. Romeo and Juliet not thinking, et cetera.

4.

STANLEY

Nah.

(Shoots STACI a look) All set with that.

(Small pause)

MISTER SHERMAN (Upset the teaching moment has passed) Well, moving on. So let’s discuss the end when Fortinbras comes in. What is the significance there?

What would the play "be or not be," show up?

RESHAWN

(Reading his book) Yo, that was mad gay.

MISTER SHERMAN ReShawn!

RESHAWN But it was.

if he didn’t

STACI I mean, Mistuh S, the guy has Bra in his name. That’s not gay?

STANLEY That is kinda gay.

RESHAWN What? Nah, not that. I was reading that speech he has to Yorick. Mad gay. Hamlet is straight up outta San Fran.

STACI Know a lot about San Francisco huh homo?

RESHAWN Giants fan, stupid. And I watch the Travel Channel a lot.

STANLEY And the gay channel!

RESHAWN Yup! "Gay Travels with Adam n’ Steve." Das a good show. .

MISTER SHERMAN I love that

.

5.

(Shutting himself up. Very small beat)

RESHAWN Yo Mistuh S! Right? And after that they got a show all about mad hot lesbians.

STANLEY

(In excited disbelief) Yo, word? Hell yeah!

(The boys high five)

STACI You both disgustin’.

STANLEY Shut up, Staci.

STACI Make me!

MISTER SHERMAN Ok whoa whoa. Hostility. Stanley, stop teasing Staci.

And

RESHAWN

A’ight,

enough. ReShawn, continue.

Hamlet’s mad gay, right?

MISTER SHERMAN What? No. Don’t continue with that. Continue with dissecting the speech.

RESHAWN But Mistuh S, he talks about kissing his lips n’ shit.

MISTER SHERMAN Language.

RESHAWN

(Correcting himself) And stuff. But like, he does though.

STACI It says it right here Mistuh S "Here hung those lips that I have kissed I know not how oft." I mean it is two dudes. So that would

ALL THREE STUDENTS (Overlapping) Gay. So gay. Basically homosexual.

6.

MISTER SHERMAN So he kissed a man, that doesn’t make him gay. I’ve kissed men. Does that make me gay?

STANLEY

(Beat)

(Serious) You really want an answer to that Mistuh S?--

STACI Mistuh S, that doesn’t make you gay. Or does it?

MISTER SHERMAN (Very stern)

Enough! This is English lit, not teacher’s sexuality, so let us stick to the subject, please.

RESHAWN Which is how our man Hamlet is definitely gay.

MISTER SHERMAN Is that all you’ve gotten out of this? Have you learned nothing?

STANLEY It says right here too, same speech, about Yorick, "he hath borne me on his back a thousand times." (Gives a look as to say "c’mon") Know what I think of when I think of back borning? (Makes clapping noises with his hands)

STACI Gay!

RESHAWN You say look at the text Mistuh S, and I did, and that text is gay. That text is trying to hook up with other texts of the same gender on the DL.

STACI Right? I mean, AND! "To be or not to be?" Gayest speech of all time.

MISTER SHERMAN Staci!

STACI

Shermi!! (He gives her a look) Sorry, Mister Sherman. You know what I’m sayin’ though. I’m like, readin’ this and thinkin’: yo, my man Hamlet is havin’ some is-sues with himself. He’s talkin’ ’bout (MORE)

7.

STACI (cont’d)

"sufferin’" slings and arrows? I mean, hello!

"Sufferin’?

."

STANLEY Uh huh. Like, what does an arrow remind you of? It’s long and hairy at the bottom and pointy on top.

STACI Yeah Mistuh S, you were the one who said there was sex and dick jokes everywhere in Shakespeare.

MISTER SHERMAN I did not say "dick."

(Students all react to the fact that he did, in fact, just say "dick")

STANLEY

(Getting back on track) Yo, regardless, you did say that stuff was in here. So we found it. And we found it in stiletto heels dancin’ to Elton John.

ALL THREE STUDENTS So gay! Homo fo’ sho’!

(The students all laugh.)

MISTER SHERMAN That is enough! I will not tolerate this sort of language!

Gay people are people too and I will not tolerate this sort of hatred in my classroom. You think because you’re young you know everything. But you don’t. Sometimes it takes you a very very long time to know something. And then you know it, and then you realize it’s true. Even if you don’t want it to be.

There is a word for you all: ignorant. Two words:

naïve. Look ’em up. Now the next person who speaks anything even close to discriminatory or prejudicial in any fashion will be escorted out of this room and I will see to it that you will be out of this room and perhaps this school for good! There’s reasons you’re all in here. Because you can’t function in other classrooms and I am beginning to see why!

(Long pause. MISTER SHERMAN paces, rearranges his stuff on his desk, takes a big breath, picks up his copy of Hamlet, then:)

8.

MISTER SHERMAN

STANLEY

(Defensive, proud and a bit angry) We weren’t makin’ fun of being gay, Mister Sherman.

STACI Not at all. My uncle is gay and I think he’s mad cool.

STANLEY We were just doin’ what you told us.

RESHAWN Think with what we got.

STACI And we got mad info that Hamlet’s gay. Not bad, just saying, he says really gay things, like not like faggy gay, but like struggling-with-who-he-is gay. And then

some of this, like, mad-- what’s that

RESHAWN

Homoerotic.

.--

(They all look at him)

yo, a lot of it is

RESHAWN What? Yo, I said I watch the gay channel.

STANLEY For real though. Like that speech, "What a piece of work is a man." I don’t think he means woman. I mean he coulda been talkin’ about Ophelia. I mean, yeah it would ruin the scansion but--

MISTER SHERMAN (Shocked)

Who told you about scansion?

STANLEY

I do read on my own Mistuh S. He coulda worked in "woman" or "Ophelia." And I know he’s marvelin’ at how we all work, but he says "man." He says "in form and moving how express and admirable."

RESHAWN "The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals." He’s talkin’ ’bout how beautiful man is. Which I am. And he ain’t talkin’ ’bout Ophelia. He’s gone crazy with passion, searching out one specific dude, his uncle, the new king, mad focused on him. He straight up (MORE)

9.

RESHAWN (cont’d) disrespects the woman in his life because he don’t want her. He wants a man. Maybe it started when he lost his dad. And I know some people say that could kinda flip the gay switch.

MISTER SHERMAN (Caught off guard) Then why does he say, "and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me--nor woman neither" he is not talking about sex.

STACI You right Mistuh S, he ain’t. He’s talkin’ ’bout love and self loathing. He can’t be with anyone because he’s so sad. But look. So like-- Whenever there’s a man involved, he can express like, any emotion. Yorick? The guy is straight up dead, like deader than dead, and he tells him he loves him. He don’t say that to Ophelia.

ALL THREE STUDENTS (Overlapping) Gay! I mean the dude is gay. For real, gay.

RESHAWN And he’s a mama’s boy. That scene with him and his moms, yo--

STANLEY Or! Isn’t it ironic that the guy who tells him, "to thine own self be true" is the guy he kills? Isn’t Shakespeare maybe tellin’ us something with that? Maybe Hamlet doesn’t wanna be true to who he is. Maybe it’s scary.

MISTER SHERMAN Well it can be, yes. But, Polonius said that to his son, Laertes. Not to Hamlet.

STANLEY

Oh

damn. A’ight

but! Who kills Hamlet

though? Right? Laertes! Son of Polonius! Gay revenge!

MISTER SHERMAN So by that standard, Polonius should have "come out" from behind the arras? (pronounces A-rASS)

RESHAWN The what?

MISTER SHERMAN Big curtain.

10.

STANLEY If the big gay shoe fits.

STACI

(To STANLEY) You so stupid.

RESHAWN You like Horatio, Staci. Totally in love with Hamlet. And nobody knows. (Looks at STACI then at STANLEY)

STACI Not every character is gay, Re.

RESHAWN Everyone’s a little gay, Staci.

STACI Pshh, not me. (To RESHAWN) You definitely are.

RESHAWN

Pro’lly

STACI Stanley, well--

STANLEY

Soooo

(Redirecting the train of thought) Hamlet is mad gay, son.

STACI Straight up gay, Mistuh S.

RESHAWN

Gayer

STACI Metaphors ain’t your thing, Re.

(They wait for a comparison. It doesn’t come. RESHAWN shrugs it off as STANLEY takes the conversation)

STANLEY So see, Mistuh S? We’re not bein’ disrespectful. He’s mourning at the beginnin’ for his father and the period of his life his dad represented. When he could hide in his shadow, pretend not to be who he really was. Then pops is dead, no more shadow. Has to dress in black, to hide again. He can’t be who he is.’Cause sometimes it’s mad scary.

11.

STACI Yup.

RESHAWN I get him, you know? Dead dad and all.

MISTER SHERMAN What? ReShawn your--

STANLEY So see Mistuh S? No disrespect. Fact. And a little artistic interpretation. So like, yeah. (Pause) Are we in trouble now?

MISTER SHERMAN No.

not at all.

STACI I mean so you asked? That’s what we learned. (Beat. Covering her advice) It’s okay to be who you are, Mister Sherman.

(Long silence)

(The bell rings. MISTER SHERMAN snaps out of his funk)

MISTER SHERMAN Ok. So well, that’s it. Remember our test on Hamlet is Monday!

STANLEY No homework?

MISTER SHERMAN No homework.

(General movement of the three getting ready to leave at a fairly quick pace. They all begin leaving, having fun with one another as they exit. RESHAWN leaves his book on the desk. They all exit. MISTER SHERMAN notices the book. RESHAWN comes back in.)

RESHAWN Forgot my book. (Looks at book) What’s good Ophelia, you miss me, baby? Oh you got some fine print! (Trying to get MISTER SHERMAN to smile)

12.

MISTER SHERMAN ReShawn.

RESHAWN

Huh?

MISTER SHERMAN Good work today.

RESHAWN Thanks Mistuh S.

(Off stage we hear:)

STANLEY Hurry your ass up, Re! I’m starving!

STACI Don’t yell at him, Stanley! Re! Hurry yo’ ass up!

RESHAWN I am! I’m being true to myself. I’m slow, deal with it. To thine own self be true muthafucka! (Big laugh)

(We hear the three yell different incarnations of "to thine own self be true" and laugh as the voices fade away)

(MISTER SHERMAN is left on stage pondering what he is hearing and has heard. He grabs his copy of "Hamlet," opens it and begins to read. He finds something funny and then sits at his desk. The moment fades away. Something dawns on him. A moment of stillness.)

(Black out)

(End of play)