воскресенье, 8 марта 2009 г.
Translated by Serge Maychuradze
A Five-Act Play
by Tatiana Akhtman
GERTRUDE — queen of Denmark
CLAUDIUS — king of Denmark
POLONIUS — Lord chamberlain
OPHELIA — daughter to Lord Polonius
LAERTES — son to Lord Polonius
REYNALDA, CORNELIA — noble ladies of the Royal Household
MARCELLA — a seamstress
BERNARDO — a gardener
Strolling players and a director
Scene I. Lord Polonius’s house
[To Marcella] You dearie get away from the silly creature you now are;
To be better off unlike your mom all black-and-blue
who died of husband’s fisted blow in her belly —
in fact, she did folks say, who witnessed that… Well, by the by,
I’ve been long curious to know — you saw that, too —
so did he fist her in the tummy? The pretty fist it was
to blow her life away… Perhaps, a winder kick — a plainer thing — to keep the plexus from the breath, and pulse, and soul, that was; call it a “plexus” or a “breath” [putting her hands onto her solar plexus and listening carefully], it is the point that gets things better than your head…
You hit the spot, my good lady: the same about me:
whenever he is up to praises likening me to a quail
so I believe he’s about to gorge me all — from bill to heels
… or what the quail has, whatever
but … it is here [puts her hands to her bosom in excitement]
you’ve said the right thing — damned if I lie [sains herself heartily] —
this is the spot where snare lies [points at her solar plexus]…
A likeness to a squeamish feeling, right? That’s it!
But no food to blame — no belly-ache; more of a “nausea”, much
like it happened when the king died [looks around fearfully] while asleep there in the garden, under the plum-tree: he was but... he no longer is…
The gardener calls it unnatural, too:
that never in his days he knew a man to die so easily… in full of robust… like our king; he calls the case too strange, and that…
There, there! Leave it out… too much talk to idle your time away …
I mean: call yourself — Marcella or a “quail” — whatever you like;
but from now on, grow more cautious to avoid a snare [points at her solar plexus] or else this will be the place [pointing at her abdomen] from where knocks may start making you wake this thing up [points at her head] which fails sometimes.
Avoid your fowler man and mind your business; you’re in the know
the royal wedding’s on… [Aside] with the husband’s body still not rigor
and memorial dishes fresh enough to be served again;
Well, that’s of no mourning, more of laughter… a change to all: the foods, the feelings and the bodies…
Well and good: now show me the wedding surcoat: is it ready?
Marcella [showing the surcoat]:
My lady, I’ve made the gathers and the article’s as perfect as a rose:
a plentitude of pearls remindful of a morning dew…
Well, looks really… very nice… well, not bad of that whitest silk
that never any better I’ve seen. So I am to tell Ophelia
the surcoat’s ready for the next-to-last try-on.
She poor girl hates the fittings justly:
what a fate it is to stand like stick for hours taking
dresses on and off, and shuffling all the time
in the iron embrace of the bodice!
Hamlet’s cuddle would fit her best, the gardener says…
The gardener says? You hold your tongue not to be like Bernardo the big mouth … He is likable enough, though — isn’t it him in there, the passionate fowler of yours, my little quail?
[Exit taking the surcoat with her]
[Enter Bernardo with a basket of roses in his hand]
Ah, my little quail, I’ve got a luck of seeing you at a good time [he tries to give her a hug; she steps aside]. Why so?
These roses do surrender and fade before the rose color of your lips [extending his hands to Marcella; she steps dreamily to him]. These tender lips hold fragrance of a morning rosary… [Marcella comes close to him; he hugs her].
[Marcella twists out of Bernardo’s cuddle; he laughs]
It’s all the same: your flattering tongue is here again, and hands are like my father’s, so eager for robbery and killing under blessing of his thievish eyes.
[In an apologetic tone] So I’ll be along to enjoy a sweet tune of a nightingale.
I’ll bring a pair of the earrings a fellow of mine has brought from England: the silver serpentines with shining eyes of emerald like your angelic ones are in the dead of night…
[Holding her ears] I won’t ever hear that … “nightingale”; for no longer am I the poor silly thing to listen to the words of yours, Bernardo [runs away].
They’re all the same: marry or begone! — I miss her badly, right… A try it was at first: and now when I’m so hot to go on, she raises price beyond my purse so all I have to do about her is fraud.
Same to Gertrude: every inch of the queen — to the tip of her braid arranged to fit a bauble of the crown…
And she who assumes no name of honor…
She who commits adultery,
And reigns over Denmark the way the sin grows ever thicker
Like air in the wake of storm that broke those ancient pines around
the bay and whipped away the Denmark fleet to perish in the deep of sea last fall…
And now she courts a war from Fortinbras…
Francisco says: some folks saw the Ghost of dead King in full his armor raising horrors of the Judgment Day….
That’s what the things are, to say nothing of Marcella’s cagey ways tiring my heart out so that I’ll sell it to the devil in no time at all…
Oh, my poor head is likely to get blown off…
Lord Polonius’s house
[Enter Cornelia and Ophelia]
The nurse says that now Marcella — the simple goose — has let him in, so he relaxed; true, not deep enough to marry.
Men are prone to lose their head yet with a spirit to avoid the snare of matrimony. A minute’s loss of head ends in a find of it along with artful ways now stronger than before. And they still grow — year to year — like sheat-fish at the bottom of a pond — to outgrow both mind and virtue.
So you mean to say that men are all alike: my father, brother Laertes whose noble ways long been a pedestalled ideal of a husband… and Hamlet, the Prince: does he also cherish the sheat-fish of a cold-blooded, slimy thought deep in the bottom of his heart?
Ah, sweetie, dear child, but where the difference lies? A Prince?
As a crowned husband, he holds a bigger charge; as for the rest in him, he’s quite the same as Lord’s creations of the dirt or clay — whichever happened to be ready there at hand…
Think for yourself: he’s going to be 30 soon: no talk of a boy; can you fancy he’s never been in love? So where is his choice whose name he turned into a “pussycat” or [chuckles] a “quail” the gardener calls Marcella; he himself is nothing else but a quail becking a hen, not Marcella…
Did you call? I’m at your service…
I did; it’s time to try on the dress. It’s really perfect
For a different marriage service; but it’s little too vestal-white for the wedding of today…You Marcella, replace the rose with a brighter and… colorful daisy; a darker scarf to look like misty skies — not too clear like it seems at the first glance; a coral necklace is better for the case…
What’s wrong, my lovely child? You look pale… are you tired?
Yes, I’m not well… A squeamish feeling here [presses her hands to the bosom] which I cannot explain… [Cornelia and Marcella exchange glances] well, a kind of haze that filled my heart… a sudden, momentary thickening of air into a combination of a dark cloak and a muffled voice where no words were heard, but bitterness of meaning tasted like the wormwood thriving in the shade of a cliff near the pond — you remember, Marcella, our strolls there?
I do; a deep weel where a huge old sheat-fish sleeps at the bottom, folks say; a crafty thing reigning its realm and espousing the women who drown in there …
No more of that petticoat gossipry; hearing these is a silly way of us who hold the eminence.
We the chosen species who may not let loose none of our perception, are predestined to shepherd both thoughts and words which use a single chance to straggle off…
So are we shepherding a flock of silly words and thoughts seeking to get off the eminence?
Is that the gist? — to keep both of your flesh and mind exalted?
Along with feelings and words? Just words… and words… and words…
But where the highness lies: is it the throne that counts utmost?
Ophelia, my lady, you shouldn’t go that far:
Unlike plebeians, we the palace nobles are in a narrower confine, but then we need not win our bread nor… seek a shelter from trouble or misery.
That’s genuinely true: a cage of gold would outweigh a bough in the thick of wild where hardships so naturally grow.
Please help me take the garment off — enough on that.
Sometimes I feel the highness designated by the throne is a misleading thing…
And that my own confines squeeze hoops on my frillies so all of my body, thoughts and words are enchained; all that’s not mine; I myself am not the one who bears the name of Ophelia…
[Exeunt all but Ophelia]
Lord Polonius’s house
Ophelia, it’s time to say goodbye — the sails are up
So I’m anxious to tell my sister the words which are above
All of the things I used to say before…
I’m in the know that Hamlet our Prince, heir to the throne
Is favoring you… and he is respectful I may hope…
Oh, yes, immensely, as if it’s me on the throne, not him…
You definitely occupy the throne — true, not of Denmark
But that of your beauty, noble state, your innocence and charm constricted in the earthly limits…
You child have no idea of your own price so be heedful to my say
Keep prudent not to decline from the height of yours…
A different turn of eminence and highness —for the sake of throne; the chastity I am to hold along with noble state and charm…
The trouble is not to mix all them up: the flocks with heights
Just to remain myself…
You’re talking to yourself? Stick to my say
Which I’m bound to convey to you as a brother to a sister:
Be cautious and know that a man’s love who’s in power just happens to be evil…
All he hears is himself and his own desires;
He does not suppress his feelings giving them way
Remaining deaf to any thing against his ardor;
He is confident it’s him who holds the yardstick of distress and joy
And that it’s him who holds both rights and destinies of others…
Rights? I’d love to pass my destiny to him…
That’s a mistake: he just believes, however, this is no sign
He’s really good to hold a mastership
of destiny in a decent and standfast way. He just believes this is so,
that means he is not likely… to be lying, and there’s no fault in his preludes which see their end in the streams known as Oblivion…
Just realize his love is much the way a wolf loves lamb:
He’s lusting of the flesh — the brook of life — his, not yours…
While he believes you shouldn’t follow his groove — and keep in mind:
Your honor is a moment’s possession given by our ancient clan who’s kept it for centuries, not years.
You’re not your own chief: you’re just a part of it whereas the rest in you is sister to me, daughter to your father, and mother to the one who will continue our line…
A queer sort of thing: I am not myself… Sometimes… I also feel
There is nobody — inside me… and I am roaming among some other Ophelias wearing their dresses, echoing their bows and words.
And I’m thirsting to get back to myself — to a place where grass is wild and flowers never lie — attracting one by siren beauty…
Just believe: the entire void that frightens you is all about a trifle known as nerves — leave it out…
[Enter Lord Polonius]
I kept my breath there in the corner to catch the words my kids were saying.
What’s to be done: sometimes you have to hide yourself to catch a gleam of truth concealed from men.
Our line is glorified by patience, acute mind and artful ways which happen to count even better than a battle valor
With all annoying damage to the treasure…
Laertes, I’m satisfied: the words you’ve said to your sister
Mean much not to her alone but to you as well: the gift of speech is to speak just to make thoughts sound for otherwise they’d pass into the dead of silence.
Here’s our choice: let the thought die or live by an accord of flesh and breath given to a tune of pipe just to pay back our debt — to the nature — not in a lifeless ash but through a harmony of life to bind ideas and deeds…
Alas, good pipe performers are actually few….
Well, none of those being able to attune oneself so that
none of a sour note offends the heavens, are known to me, although an old man I am…
So I’m to sound sour myself to be in time to the tune: to lie artfully just to fake the truth…
I can’t keep myself from revealing a secret: an idea once struck my mind that by destroying the Tower of Babel, our Lord has not just torn the tongues apart, but rather ruined them at all, so all we have by now is hardly anything but a senseless chirrup of the wild birds.
So our lives are like those of the cuckoo chickens hurtling one another
And believing the worm to be the only sense to go on…
I’m an old man for sure as I’ve talked that much…
I had a dream deep from my heartstrings: as if we were parting for a long no-see, so I had to say about what I’d failed… or not dared say before…
Fare you well, Laertes, and be of sense like I was up to the moment; so I’ll recover to be the same, from now on…
[in his habitual, assured tone] we’ll keep the honor of our line…
[After a pause, to Ophelia]
My dear child — a joy, a sorrow, a pride, and a rebuke of mine…
I’m getting dumb before you like a high thought’s flight brought down by a fear making my tongue dead by virtue of the clash; so my tongue is mute to both lies and what I believe is truth…
Is there a way to say: live and do not live; love but be careful;
Breathe in, but half of your might; slow you heartbeat? What else? Should I advise you to fall in step with those of tin ear or even deaf from birth?
Wait a minute, not a word: the snare is of no worth
until a lively thought starts beating there just to draw its last breath and rise to memory…
I’m contradictory; well, this is my sin, not yours;
And you are innocent — so all your duty is to keep it.
I know, the Prince is courting you — a seeming pleasure;
But don’t believe it, for the gist of it is quite different.
What’s more… he seems to be not well… a queer malady it is:
From heat of his unintelligible way he jumps into a silence
So eloquent and cool that thrusts of tantrums would be more likeable…
He’s like a player who’s lost his score so he is forced to keep a pause…
Do forget, Ophelia, all of his previous says, and listen anew
Just the way you start a clean page.
I’ll tell you, my girl, why I’ve come to you, abstracting myself from the business of importance I carry on with dignity as long as three decades:
You behave as befits the stand of yours, and mine, and your brother’s, and of our ancestry. Don’t be sad; again, measure your joy not to annoy the others for those happy faces are to nobody’s liking…
Read to a pleasure, not to wisdom, for no one loves clever things… Be respectful, but not obeisant, as flattery fits personality, not hierarchy…
Keep attention and absence in the same bowl…
What else? Yes, Hamlet… Don’t reject him, but be careful not to encourage him: neither his malady nor an accord to come next to the pause is clearly known…
I’m now back to duties; all I want is to feather-touch my lamb’s brow reminding me a gulp from a healing spring [kissing her forehead];
God bless you: I commend you to his care in what lies beyond my limits…
[Exit Lord Polonius]
I am fearful to start a new page by closing the previous ones
just to write “you keep your innocence”…
But how could I write without blotching the white of page?
My brow is a spring so any thought would cloud it…
I’m a sentinel of a flash come to exist just to allay a thirst…
I’m tired of trying on the white, the color which never counts unless in harmony with other hues; so to be or not to be is all up to what a case is… or even more: odds and evens are cast in a way that a hope to get a lucky chance is there; as for me, I am predestined to concede creating a semblance of motion to those who crave to live….
We are alone, at last [Hugging the Queen passionately; she escapes from his grasp]…
Wait, I’m not ready, somebody is here
[watching intensely and pointing her finger at a direction], over here: a thickening of air into a combination of a dark cloak and a muffled voice where no words are heard but it’s nauseating as if the sound missed my ears and pierced right into my heart… it’s painful…
Enough on that; you’re tired: quite a day it was;
But the marriage-bed night is ahead — the sweetest thing of all:
Gertrude — the queen and wife…
This the way the life goes — chequering the light and shade — Dame Nature’s sweet reward for pain…
It’s nasty bangs on my heart… I’m sick… [Hugging Claudius headily]: I’ve long been waiting to hear from you, dear Claudius, that I am yours…
Mine: you’re my wife, and Queen; and I’m the King, the lawful husband! [In an excitement] There’s nothing to stop me — I’ve sold my soul just to say “my, oh, my Queen!” and drink the cup of delight and plenitude of robust, to reach the top and give my fate a whip to make it gallop much unlike the rootless dobbin it once did hauling a cart of bitter bile.
What do you mean? You’ve sold your soul?..
Yes [In a dismal voice], to you, Gertrude… my wife…
To the hour of my grave…
You shouldn’t think of that…
That’s right! No more sniveling! The end of it: the dead would join eternity; let the survivors live! [Picking up the Queen in his arms, going round and kissing her; the are laughing]
[Enter Lord Polonius]
I’m most humbly asking for your attention…
Please come on in, Lord Polonius, the most devoted adviser: a friend in whom we do confide not less than my brother;
What’s more, we appreciate those serving Denmark, not persons. What’s the news?
All is ready for the feast; Denmark is jubilant
Welcoming King and Queen enthroned.
You couldn’t say it better. Those words of yours just tighten bonds of our friendship; I’ll lock them in my memory and give the key to you, Lord Polonius. Something else?
Oddly enough, but…
Is he angry? He looked confused and off his groove
When I saw him last in the walkway near the garden…
He bore resemblance of a thunder-cloud and he was talking to himself…
As he caught sight of me he scowled as if I was a displeasing view,
And his voice… trembled when I asked him what was behind the sorrow…
He looked into my eyes the way he wished to get into the very bottom —
Of them, and plunged into my soul and he came up with a smile more like a cramp…
He said to me: “What’s behind the sorrow? Don’t you really know what? Feeling happy? — That’s what my sorrow is about… ”
Since then, those words revolve in me like beads of Turk the teaman: the words return to me no matter I am in joy or sorrow…
So what is your say, Lord Polonius?
To comfort motherly feelings of our Queen
And give a hand to bolster her joy, as sorrow would find its way itself…
Can’t be said better. The sorrow is likely to be the very cloth of the soul — fabric is its base where embroidering of gayety and joy is an acme of all arts.
He who is skilful in the art is in a perfect mastership of himself…
Hamlet the Prince, well, my tongue…is dumb with a fear of saying that…
Your crowned son is in love with Ophelia…
I swear by your royal disposition that my daughter…
Oh, I’m well aware of all that [laughs in a thrill of joy]
Thanks heaven, not a malady it is but an attack of love
Resembling a delirium especially where a sense of duty is in clash with passion; surviving the trouble like this without a stumble is not an easy thing to do…
But… [Pause Gertrude] please go on… what does Ophelia think of this?
She is…well, no good of praising my own daughter, but…
Born to be the Denmark’s flower of beauty!
So no wonder the Prince’s in love.
Gertrude, you son is well like never before
When equitation and fencing were his prime choice
Leaving no courage in him among women in a feast.
Ophelia is lamblike one whose spirit never shows off in a rebel
But rather in deferring to nimble ones:
She’s always ready to step back to save that
which she feels… she… has to save
Her gait gives her away — the light feet belong
To those who is afraid to break the flask of sanctitude…
She has to meet a better destiny than mine —
She’s born to live a happy life…
I quite understand the parent’s heart;
I’d like my own to be the same,
Alas, for now, my heart is clouded with sorrow…
And needs some time for a clearing…
[To Lord Polonius]
Make them encounter so that we could see for ourselves
To be sure our assumption is not false;
If it is wrong we’ll see some other cause.
I’m hurrying away to execute your order.
[Exit Lord Polonius]
His rank’s in a full harmony with his nature…
Lord Polonius’s house.
Rosencrantz made a laughing-stock of himself by a blown pride:
He came to tell a joke to Ophelia but he was not accepted — he was told she’s still asleep…
This is the third time he and Guildenstern, his chum, are there with their
Immensely stupid and complacent they are — betwixt and between — so officers are better than the two coxcombs…
Even the soldiers are better than these two who give me pinch at every quiet corner;
They never say a word keeping an idiotic air on their hanging faces but run away at every sound of rustle or footstep…
My lady, I’m always carrying this with me [tinkles a bell] to keep the men away…
We may not fight nor push them nor even shout —
All we can do is to cry and shiver and say prayers;
Should we get in trouble we are the only things to blame…
I’ve found a guard — a tinkle — ruinous to any passion [she laughs].
Lord Polonius’s house.
They’re laughing… True, I’ve forgotten where the laughter comes from — is it in soul or in throat? I remember the way it sounded in me like this [trying to laugh] — ha-ha; no: he-he; it’s not that [groaning] a-a-a…. I don’t remember…
Among the rest of feelings, laughter must be the first thing to die out; next, the light does — in the lips and eyes: the candle’s out…
No, his advice of nunnery to avoid being the “breeder of sinners” was up to a moment’s heat…
His look was like a gentle touch to my brow which is not “sicklied o’er the pale cast of thought”, nor a “glassy stream”…
My father and the Prince they both come to me to drink… the innocence… I keep for all who’s thirsty…
I’m a reflection of the thirst… [laughs through her tears] — now it’s a laughter: so now I’m in a perfect know the throat is the source, while tears come from under my heart — a vessel for blood and tears, the elements that are concealed from heavens… [Trying to laugh].
Well, I’m giving you a prod, my throat; alas! It’s not that agile it used to be when Hamlet said his words of love… sending me flowers and memos [taking out some of her bodice]: “Ophelia divine, you’re a perfect beauty of the sunray, believe that you, my love, are on the top of adoration”.
[Enter Lord Polonius]
The compliment is not too bad save that abundant “adoration”; the word of “danger” would sound better for both sense and form…
Father, Hamlet just was in here or to be more exact, his suffering it was…
He just advised me to get myself to a nunnery
Not to bewitch men into a realm of vain promises;
He also wanted me to forget his love and… oh, I don’t remember…
As I obediently follow the wish of those who lovingly would order me…
I don’t remember… Oh, that’s it: throat is for laughter, while heart is the spot where tears come from… those hidden lakes are salty all because of tears…
All that belongs to nature are the same there in deep where hidden catacombs of… soul lie.
Father, what do you want me to do?
I’ll comply with any thing you’re asking for…
Asking for? To be happy, are you ready to comply? [To Ophelia]:
Now we are going to the gallery next to the garden. This is the time when the Prince strolls there…
I’ll hide myself, and you go to encounter him. Don’t be afraid, I’ll be near….
Maybe I’ll manage to make out a bit of reason in his saying;
I mean not sense of words, but of what just lies behind. So I’ll be waiting in there…
Well, yes, of course, I’m going…
Go ahead, ophelia the bait, not nun; just wait and your turn will come… Don’t sing now, ophelia: your part is next to she who drops her curtsies and steps her minuet — last year’s fashion there in Paris…
[The strolling players are rehearsing the Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”]
“Awful, awful, awful” … More smoke!
[To Hamlet Player] You’re supposed to be Hamlet, not a pooch so you shouldn’t snarl and leap: you are a nobleman!
Well, what an ugly face you are! That is a horror alright: did you meet your dad in the hell?
Disastrous mistake it was to make you act the Prince. Scram you, well, no, wait: come up to me [spats his hands], do it once more; you Horatio go on your tiptoe a bit: stilts would suit our Hamlet fine! [All laugh].
Enough of rhyming now — I’m at wit’s end: last night I even tried to love my wife in a rhyming style so finally I missed [Laughter]. Now to business! The rehearsal is no place for extra mannerism… Go head!
Do speak up; I’m listening!
You should pay revenge when you hear that.
The passage’s too long and eloquent, so I’m crossing it out;
I’m asked to contract the five acts of the maestro into a single one — less words, more swords… The goddam rhyme’s got stuck to me: a kind of jerk yet out of step…
…I’m thy father’s spirit
Doom’d for a certain term to walk the night…
But this eternal blazon must not be to ears of flesh and blood… List, list, O, list! If thou didst ever thy dear father love…
Revenge his foul and most unnatural murder.
Murder most foul, as in the best it is; but this most foul, strange and unnatural.
This entire here is my part; you read it yourself in Mr. Shakespeare. It’s brilliant, that is, divine, so:
Now, Hamlet, hear: 'Tis given out that, sleeping in my orchard,
A serpent stung me; so the whole ear of Denmark is by a forged process of my death rankly abused: but know, thou noble youth, The serpent that did sting thy father's life now wears his crown.
O my prophetic soul! My uncle!
Ay, that incestuous, that adulterate beast, with witchcraft of his wit, with traitorous gifts, — o wicked wit and gifts, that have the power so to seduce! — won to his shameful lust the will of my most seeming-virtuous queen: o Hamlet, what a falling-off was there! O horrible!
Next, some bloodcurdling details come… Now, what’s important: the dead king still keeps wearing his mask of nobility. That is, he is playing his role by right, so all that Claudius the poor thing did was in vain: he is still a runner-up, a born scum, I mean… A hero and a baddie: not too fresh for a plot, yet works perfect.
Let not the royal bed of Denmark be a couch for luxury and damned incest. But, howsoever thou pursuest this act, taint not thy mind, nor let thy soul contrive against thy mother aught: leave her to heaven
And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge, to prick and sting her...
O all you host of heaven! O earth! what else? And shall I couple hell? O, fie! Hold, hold, my heart…
[Spatting his hands]
Hold; you hear you’re saying: “Hold”! That’s the key to your further conduct. Now stick to a lesser manifestation of externals: Hamlet keeps himself well in hand, or rather he thinks he does. Now he himself and all those around — are players of his staging, the one where he is no longer a puppet but both creator and creation! Get it? Keeping yourself well in hand means to hold a center of intrigue known as “my destiny”. It’s same as to be born anew, not by following a plot of those in whose hands you’ve happened to get by virtue of doom.
So what did he manage with all that? Died? He could so happily go on in clover…
Could go on is not to be… To be and to live are not the same: that’s what behind the masterpiece of Shakespeare: living in clover seems to be working while hungry bellies cry; but next, a vacuum would raise upwards — to the heart — making your life nasty because of goodness missing…
So he missed goodness, right? There was all of the goodness belonged to him! Can you ask for more? He takes a call; we take the hoot no matter how hard we try to turn ourselves inside out…
Hoots come of heart, while flattery is up to hypocrisy, that is, of lie. Have you ever read the Scriptures? Lie is an evil. The more they exalt the deeper they fall ending up in the Hell.
That one may smile, and smile, and be a villain; at least I'm sure it may be so in Denmark…
Bravo! You are coming to realize, so go ahead…
O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!
That won’t do: grandstanding is the easiest thing… You now read his monologue — “…to be or not be…” where he attempts to learn his own essence, which is a true repentance. Well, attune yourself to the “la” of this entire score. Listen to me: La-a…
To be, or not to be: that is the question: whether 'tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles, and by opposing end them? To die: to sleep; no more; and by a sleep to say we end the heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks that flesh is heir to, 'tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wish'd. To die, to sleep; to sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; for in that sleep of death what dreams may come When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause: there's the respect that makes calamity of so long life; for who would bear the whips and scorns of time, the oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely, the pangs of despised love, the law's delay, the insolence of office and the spurns that patient merit of the unworthy takes, when he himself might his quietus make with a bare bodkin? Who would fardels bear, to grunt and sweat under a weary life, but that the dread of something after death, the undiscover'd country from whose bourn no traveller returns, puzzles the will and makes us rather bear those ills we have than fly to others that we know not of? Thus conscience does make cowards of us all; and thus the native hue of resolution is sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought, and enterprises of great pith and moment
With this regard their currents turn awry, and lose the name of action. — Soft you now! The fair Ophelia...
[The company applauses]
Well done, son! You keep the “la” so now you never stay out of tune to be a genius. Now a prolusion for Gertrude and Ophelia: lucky we are there is no female role in the play, which a man could not perform; all we need is a wig and a skirt. True, in the scenes of insanity women look more human, I mean womanlike…
[Two young men in woman’s clothes appear; they are mincing and speaking in thready voices]
Ophelia, try to avoid your bass in the final monologue; apply more white powder, too. Don’t make a mess of it: Ophelia’s white; Gertrude has an abundant blusher make-up especially after Hamlet has said to her the soul can be a spot of disgrace.
Do try it yourself; your roles are so simple that there is no room to go deep into; not a single thought, while feelings are superficial like bijoux. And now we have a more important scene: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
My honored lord!
My most dear lord!
Be more reserved: the wine of temerity is yeasty yet, but the situation is pressing. You are two knights in this pack of cards: the sharper has lost: he played trumps and you are busted. The sharper believed you’re in a contact, that is, you could go into Hamlet’s condition; the sharper had erred: how can a knight go into the Prince’s condition? Dodgery is the only way to do that. You guys are pennywhistle dodgers: you’re eager to sell your soul, but there is nothing to sell, in fact. You are simpletons — neither heroes nor villains. So the tragedy of mediocrity is there: to be is not given, not to be, but survive by playing a role is denied because of lacking hypocrisy, for lie is close to art. Where’s the pipe?
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Players:
[Arguing about who had the pipe last]
I gave it to you! No, you didn’t!
[Finding the pipe and giving it to the Players]
So you just play yourselves. The ear-piercing instrument: in a master’s hand it’s sad enough to make the soul tremble; while treated by an unskillful hand, it squeals. Here is an interplay of words and associations, but no other way to get the author’s gist exists. You Guildenstern begin from the end of second scene, where you are entrapped in your own platitude — you play it a pure paint: “O, my lord…”
O, my lord, if my duty be too bold, my love is too unmannerly.
I do not well understand that. Will you play upon this pipe?
My lord, I cannot.
I pray you.
Believe me, I cannot.
I do beseech you.
I know no touch of it, my lord.
'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with your mouth, and it will discourse most eloquent music. Look you, these are the stops.
But these cannot I command to any utterance of harmony; I have not the skill.
Why, look you now, how unworthy a thing you make of me! You would play upon me; you would seem to know my stops; you would pluck out the heart of my mystery; you would sound me from my lowest note to the top of my compass: and there is much music,
excellent voice, in this little organ; yet cannot you make it speak. 'Sblood, do you think I am easier to be played on than a pipe? Call me what instrument you will, though you can fret me, yet you
cannot play upon me.
Now the truth’s come in the combination of words of such a harmony: to be a dodger, one has to know the truth, otherwise a lie would be to your own detriment making you play the fool…
You mean to say that telling lies requires knowing of the truth?
Exactly: how can you deny what does not exist at all? Telling lies would demand a knowledge of truth which only God or maybe a genius who have it; but not for his life the genius will
Substitute the harmony with paint…
So he that knows the truth can only tell a lie; however, he who has learned the truth would never lie again; that is, a true lie is…
This is the drive one mad… But to go mad you’ve got to have the mind to go from…that is, to be smart… [aping]: “to be — not to be” [All laugh and repeat his words]
The true lie is an evil while a false truth is a silly thing. For the time being, theater is the only place for villains and heroes; in real life, a “villain” is a simple soul believing to be a hero. Now stop talking! Down to business! The easiest thing that’s remained is eight murders; however, we have been perfectly good at that, so no rehearsal is needed. I’m reminding you the final scene layout: Polonius is killed — for s starter. Unlike Gertrude, Ophelia rejected an idea of being painted with blushers so she gets to a nunnery, one of the safest. The knights are busted in the backstage. The duel scene between Hamlet and Polonius is halfway to success: better faking a line than a sword strike. Gertrude, you utter your final cue…
No, no, the drink, the drink, — o my dear Hamlet, — the drink, the drink! I am poison'd…
O villany! Ho! let the door be lock'd: treachery! Seek it out.
It is here, Hamlet: Hamlet, thou art slain; no medicine in the world can do thee good … the king, the king's to blame.
The point! — envenom'd too! Then, venom, to thy work.
I’m dying, Horatio; you’re alive so tell the truth about to all who’re open to it…
[A dead march, a peal of ordnance is shot off; the curtain shuts. Players are tired and drowsy….]
[Spats his hands with an air of assumed liveliness]
Have a rest till the evening; I want you to be perfect tonight! A royal supper with a good wine have been promised…
Scene I. Gertrude’s room
Reynalda, I’ve changed my garment to a white one
While the spirit persists by roaming like a dark shade… I’m sick… I’ve been longing for the time hat would reign next to the farewell… a forgiveness… to let an easier breath in me… I’ve been craving for liberation from what I don’t know myself. From the past, as I believed…
You looked a happy couple, an ideal of the crowned union of souls, thoughts, and hearts…
We were the couple where my share was to be a shadow of his, well, even more than shadow: a real shade enjoys a wider freedom by following its subject, while I was chained by state of decency and queenliness — lying to yourself is the root of every evil…
Well, is it any bad about that? I keep in memory the image of your mother so vividly that neither locket can; I keep her words in time with my heartbeat: “…marriage is a lucky chance received by us who’ve predestined to belong to men; so the best way is to belong to one in whole, and not to tear yourself to many…”
The nature gives it, but few are those who can accept it by not destroying…
Fruits of divine ideas get ripe not in the heaven but on earth, where plot is so far away from an incorporation making a sinful soul appeal for a revenge… The King is no longer him; I’m not the one I was; neither of us are like those who were born to bear our names… heaven knows for what… being shuffled like cards to gamblers — who either cheaters or immensely foolish creatures are; besides, they all are adventuresome like officers who’ve lost all — even the esprit de corps, the thing that comes to them with the uniform they wear…
Sorry for coming uninvited, but Hamlet…
He is coming as you’ve ordered, but has so much of flaunting air
As if he’s hurrying not to his mother, but to battle; he’s equipped with rage; he bursts the silence with his heavy feet as if he is a demon, not an obedient son… that’s him…
[Hides behind a drape]
[The same room, now in full mess; things are scattered around; Gertrude looks bedraggled; her dress is crumpled; she is the image of an exhausted woman advanced in years]
It’s happened: that what I’ve reached unwillingly…
My heart is so full of ache…
That’s a pity that the mother may not be killed as easy as a rat…
Or Polonius: a single stab and he no longer is in Denmark so the country would be without him for ever…
My son was dragging him and laughing… and singing a tune resembling a cradle-song. O God, why am I here? What’s happening to me? He said my destiny is ruled by evil; that’s the words of his: your love is an incestuous lechery with the villain, a hell nests in your bed; you’re a bawd who drags all Denmark to the bastardy…
Too much pain in view of rare rendezvous between the mother and the son.
For years I’ve been waiting him to open his heart to me so that I could see myself in him… I dreamed a dream: his father came as a menacing spirit asking Hamlet to execute me the way so that my soul, not the brow, suffers from the stings of thorn…
And now my son, to crown it all, is playing an insane…
But I’m fearful of that this role would fit him perfectly, whose mind is set to wander aimlessly all in the armory of sarcasm so loved by his nature will finally succeed… power over the crowd… so the sin will close this vicious circle: “insanity is freedom; lie is salvation; he’s a judge to every one; while the revenge is his destiny and the sole purpose”…
Thus stepping over each and every thing he comes to bottom falling deep and dragging others; so he aggravates his fault and ruins his soul…
I’ll break my marriage vow sworn to the villain, whose low ways are a reward for an outbreak of my tardy passion…
Regretfully, my love’s my sorrow: by then, I had to bear not too long, the time was almost ripe… and now the lesson is too bitter…
Do I seem to look like a queen?
Oh, heaven, the last two quarters of the hour seem to be long as all my life: my braid’s gone gray… and strong offsets of thorn have pierced deep into my soul laving no place for love or joy…
My eyesight’s blackening… It’s dark; you Claudius must be a king of spades so all the troubles find their way by spilling blood. Oh, I’m so sorry, I’m all exhausted…
[Claudius tries to give her a hug]
No… unhand me…
Gertrude, what happened here? Any softness is beyond our standing; the crown’s ways leave no place for doubts, but for business.
Our fate’s limits are never our design;
All we have to do is to obey the heavens…
Is there a way to tell the hell from heaven? I’d love to be subordinate to heaven, but…
Leave all these “buts”, and “ifs” and “ans” — the words that have darkened the clear mind of yours; these are half-words, just half-and-halfers that made you be not you whom I in love with… Be back as the ruler of heart and leave all that nonsense out; give a smile or frown as the case permits! The case is here: our son, the heir to the throne, has fallen in the grip of horrible distress of soul….
Not all the means to feed your passion are really good …
Get back, Gertrude, and be careful not to convene a trouble to revel at your feast.
Denmark is fed up to have the son insane;
The Mother Queen should be much more tight-fisted to hold her mastership about the house especially when trouble grows…
[A noise is heard]
What’s up in there, gentlemen?
It is a shadow that reigns in Denmark: King for the night; Queen for the daytime praying for the night to come as soon as possible…
Ophelia is standing at the door… The poor thing likely to be out of her mind: a homeless tramp could not be so miserable…
The sings a queer tune: “my dear husband is in the bottom of a pond where height is hidden…”
Something about a grass… love and lies… a queer mix-up…
She’s laughing slyly, and suddenly… starts shaking her finger to everyone, then, for a change, she runs away without direction scampering like a child; then she cries bitterly getting away from people; someone has found her behind the wall and brought her here… She took her corset off and put it away somewhere; her feet are bare… wild camomiles are in her braid…
So everybody feel compassionate?
Well… everybody; however, some carping tongues and rumors are also there: now when Polonius is no longer here, and the Prince went to England, she is all alone…
And maybe happy — for the first time — she’s now free from the destiny.
I envy her… my own one has made me drink my cup right to the bottom: I have to drink it to the last drop, he said, to “make an effort”… So I obey… Reynalda, I can feel no compassion for her — for I am to pity myself — a most useless thing to do!
To love and not to love, breathe in but half of what you can;
Live and not live; pity but not pity…
Lie is the devil’s poison; yet half lie is even worse: a slow venom murdering your soul, not body which keeps on eating, breathing, drinking wine and making no difference between the good and evil growing soul wilder and the sin greater…
This is the way to blame all people in the world…
We shouldn’t burn us — for we are not the tings the God created by mistake; and there is no eighth day so far…
[Helps Gertrude dress and combs her hair]
There, there, my angel; dry your eyes as you never did an evil.
Look at the clear world around. You fear is all for nothing; please grow quiet and don’t forget to have your rubies on…
Act V consists of four short scenes changing by rotation of the stage with no curtain down.
Lord Polonius’s house.
The was lily-white and placid as a summer sky, the gardener says; she spread her arms in the sleep so she’d never troubled the bed of the pond where she was found easily…
I fail to realize: why hosts of troubles befall the house, as Laertes’s come to reign…
With all that misery around, the will of fate has ruthlessly destroyed the fruits of welfare in the family, which seemed to live a happy life…
He was so much a lord… can’t be better… a real noble [aside] the villain will be given his due by going to hell… [whispers]… A gardener’s friend who returned with the late master’s son did say, that our Hamlet is in England now living fast by drinking and raising the devil with Horatio his friend: some Danish sailors saw them there in a sixpence tavern…
Both Rosencrantz and Guildenstern were left with nothing or, rather, got their heads off: yes, the quiet-corner pinchers were beheaded; that served them right, although they miss a pity — mostly, the former: a handsome guy bearing resemblance of the late King he was…
Marcella, is the garment ready? Failed as we did to dress Ophelia to wedd [cries], so let’s do that for the mourning…
My goodness, all is ready for a try-on!
A… try-on… now when the sprout’s cut…
Do wreathe into her hair the pearls she never worn…
[cries] Don’t your remember that, Marcella?
I do, although a century has passed since…
All I hear is an implicit rebuke
Hush! Laertes’s voice: he’s so hot in anger
His would-be lordship overweighs his promise of a dowry;
And the gardener never marries a fortuneless girl
So he prefers to be a mere lover, a thief, that is,
no talk of honor does any good: we’ll never be together in the ties of marriage …
Men are all the same in Denmark — half-valorous in their body’s part which is closer to the ground; that’s why they’re all cuckolds: this is the only way the use their heads…
[Cleans the place up singing]
She says to him: you promised to get me for a
Wife while playing around with me those nights…
—Nearly a wife you were, but you did lay for me — was his reply…
What’s going to happen to Denmark? Or to me…
Is this a grin of fate that rules both life and destiny?
Or…is it a doomsday — a retribution, but where’s the fault?
Gertrude who drank all of her humbleness, and passion and the horror of sobering up, and the poison, too: that’s what her life was all about… Nothing to the rescue: the wine’s been poisoned long before…
Is Claudius a villain or a thoughtless hand, a headsman?
So cry my poor Denmark — for even outcast is not as miserable as you are: a gob of clay, a handful of stones in the seashore, of waters and cold, of winds and shabby cabins, unstable dreams…
[Continues to clean the place singing]
“…White his shroud as the mountain snow, — larded with sweet flowers which bewept to the grave did go with true-love showers...”
A haunting tune indeed which comes from where I don’t know.
I hope all be well; so all I need is patience.
[Strolling players and Marcella hanging out the wash. A player going by gives her a slap on the back…]
A bloodcurdling epilogue of the story: nobody’s paid us!
[Exclaims in an affected manner] “Awful, awful, awful!”
Well, fellow, you’ve still managed to catch something [laughs]
What are you talking about?
It’s about Marcella: a pretty girl who can work hard.
A pretty, yes, but not a girl… let her work…
Damn it! We’ve been framed; however, it was a perfect game of give-away: the Hero and the Villain as protagonists with hosts of Simple Minds around. Ah, what a room for stage direction, especially in the time to come: a naked woman for Hamlet; a barbed-wire corset would be even better — brilliant! Polonius is a follower of Buddhism; Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are gays — just perfect! In her scene of insanity Ophelia is trampolining: she loses her dress so everybody can see she has a…
[Speaks to the Second Player]
Well, he is riding his hobby so we are left without a supper. It shouldn’t go on like that…
Hey Marcella, will you come with me?
[The stage rotates revealing a view of the backstage mess: a heap of ladders, ropes and swords, the crown hooking on a nail, a coffin, a throne and other parts of the stage set; the Player and Marcella are making their way across the mess…]
The curtain comes down.
© Tatiana Akhtman