Short Dramas and Plays
Shakespeare's Jonah Act I Scene 1a Jonah's Entrance
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Act I Scene i
A port city in Phonecia
NARRATOR: Good morrow, my lords and ladies fair, nobles esteem’d, and vulgar groundlings one and all. Scorn not this bare stage set before thee, utterly lack’d in gilded adornment.
These humble boards 'pon which I stand shall furnish us our home, our docks, our sea, our ship our desert, by wondrous transformation by eye and mind, and by the humble labors of our players herein. Esteem it not by its appearance to the naked eye, but instead dress it with what thou canst conjure in sight and smell and sound and texture, far superior is in thy mind than contained in our poor physic.
For now, let us dress this maiden place, with planking underfoot, washed in brine as is the custom of the docks of Phonecia. The call and caw of sea bird pierces the rising and falling roar of the surf without, and the lapping of the choppy restless waters hugging the peers within this ancient port city Joppa.
Up, up, and beyond, the sea is endless to the eye, merging with the skies’ blue at the farthest rise. Boundless sea, beyond the ends of the earth, an eternity of blue which spills into the heavens and beyond. And this far ends is our destination, its last waypoint known to man. How far can we flee? And will Eternal eyes miss us there, where previously His scrutiny hast found this lone soul wherever he hast been.
JONAH: Take me, O sea. Take me to where the farthest reaches I might stand and eschew this place, and call it not my home, for I am a man with none; an exile of his own kind, driven by a madness worst than the ill-matched humors, a madness that cannot be matched by the divising of man, and must needs an Eternal mind to conceive. For no man alive, none of Adam’s race would concieve, to more purpose put to word the charge that I have received. ‘T would be the greatest of follies for one of flesh to say to one or another “Go ye, therefore, and preach against Ninevah, the seat of Assyria”, some phantom of doom or devil or demon might devise such thing, but for the Divine to author such madness is a violence to behold. Sirrah, whence come you and whither are you gone?
SAILOR1: I am from that fair vessel before thee, well pitched she is from stem to stern, seaworthy and sure, with crew and good captain well seasoned. What say you, and whyfore dost thou inquire?
JONAH: Of what manner and means are thy holds?
SAILOR1: By what means we may trade from port to port, and by the best market that may be brought to bear. Some salt, some papyrus, some oil; art thou presently a buyer ?
JONAH: Nay, not by any jot, but I have an interest in selling, if there is an ear to hear and a hand to receive.
SAILOR1: In buying and selling they are one in port market, depending upon the commodity.
JONAH: I have none but myself, and will pay by aught what space in a hold or cabin I may take, by what means I may have. Here’s silver for thee. Arrange what thou may with thy captain and see me hence when the exchange is done.
SAILOR1: What if he shall not receive thee?
JONAH: I charge thee, make what case, what pains, what bargain thou hast in thy wit an’ tongue an’ I shall reward thee with what I may in purse and person afford unto thee, for I care not a jot for whither I am, or whither I am bound, save for the journey long and far, and I am prepared to make such a way by what means I may have at hand. Go thee, get thee gone afore the tide and winds make for favorable departure. I will make for what losses may be for thee presently in this undertaking, be assured, now make haste.
Sailor1: Good, my lord, I am away.
JONAH: An’ away before thou art aweigh.
JONAH: Now, sun, hold in thy journey 'til I am secure'd in this plot, that I may not stay a day more under these skies, and that even the stars themselves might have different homes in the sable sky, such will be my new landing, removed as far as the world’s ends from this place, and from hated Ninevah
STURM: What ho and forsooth! What outland crab hast crawled ‘pon this shore? Nay, he comes not from this part, i’faith, as his flesh hast none of the stench and reek of the brine that doth taint e’en the air both day and night ‘pon these shores, come wind or no.
DRANG: His breath is sweet as those cows grazed ‘pon the inland fields, and not of fish and hardshell’d meat as is the custom hereabouts.
STURM: Make an accounting of thyself, sir, we would know thy origins and thy intent.
DRANG: Aye, an’ make thou a goodly report, and not beggardly in the fullness of thy detail.
JONAH: Good sirs, ‘pon this shore I do tarry but for transport, for it is my intent to transverse ‘cross this Great Sea to points little known of man or beast or god, as far as the wind and tide can take me.
STURM: What manner of man is this who wouldst spurn thy heart and home, thy kith and kin for parts unknown?
DRANG: Methinks he hast run afoul of some prince or king, whose long arm stretches ‘cross borders an’ sea when they have put their mind towards some course, or some vengeance. Out with it man, who chases thee from these shores?
JONAH: Nay, no man of earth do I fear, I have not a fear of mortals when the celestial skies doth open up and command me do this or do that, hail thee or rail they. To look 'pon the wrath of man, enoble’d or no, is pale’d in comparison to that which comes from Whom renews the light of day.
STURM: Thou speakest in riddles but thy intent is clear. Get you gone afore the day is done and the tide doth turn.
DRANG: But tarry anon an impart unto us, as we have ears to hear and eyes to see, 'pon the wither and why thou dost flee to the ends of the earth and parts unknown.
JONAH: My gentles, list unto me and I shall tell you what I may, and for your part what you may believe, though they may not be one in the same.
STRUM: We are thy captives, ransom us with thy tale.
DRANG: Indeed, we are all attentive.
JONAH: Harken to me and know my means, though my ends be as fickle as the winds. For unto me was imparted an instruction celestial, that I make haste unto the great and hated city of Ninevah and preach against it to its utter destruction.
DRANG: Faugh! Thou hast had a head full of grape and thou art imparting thy drunken madness unto us!
STURM: Take thou we as bumpkins to be thy idle merriment? I’ve had done.
JONAH: Stay you, and hear me unto completion, then make what judgments thou wilt.
DRANG: What? To make utter fools of us?
STURM: Thou madness be a contagion that doth taint our ears. Get thee gone! The ends of the earth take you and be glad of it!
JONAH: I implore! The madness is in the message and not the method!
DRANG: Come, let us leave this wanderer to his ramblings.
STURM: Aye, there’s better fish to catch than to tarry 'pon this throwback.
Exuent STURM & DRANG
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Like I said in the forum -I'm really glad you never entered this in the challenge. We'd have never stood a chance :)
Wow! A standing ovation from my corner of FW, David!!
Let me just take a moment to shut my dropping jaw... David your command of Shakespearean language is stunning - not simply in its technical aspect, but in its inherant poetry. The opening narration creates such images in the minds eye and evokes a sense of time, place and scent. The first line of the second paragraph of the narration might be a little overlong, or might need a little restructuring. I spoke it out loud, and it felt a bit stretched. That might just be me! I love how you manage to establish Jonah's character and inner personality straight away, and his interaction with Sturm and Drang was handled so well. "STURM: Make an accounting of thyself, sir, we would know thy origins and thy intent. DRANG: Make good thy report, and be not beggardly in thy detail." This is probably a very small niggle, but could Drang say: "Aye, and make good..." It just seemed to help make the conversation flow slightly better when I spoke it out loud. I am so looking foward to the rest of this - as much as I would like to see it performed, it reads so very very well and is absolutely delightful.