Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shakespeare's Critique Group by Jan Rider Newman

"Henry V?" says Thomas Kyd. "Seriously, Will? Don't you realize how bloody tired people are of sequels? How far do you plan to take this – Henry VI? Henry VII? Henry the bloody X, for pity's sake?"

"I agree," says Christopher Marlow. "For what 'tis worth, Will, and only in my humble opinion, of course, but plays about royalty are so overdone. Do you not agree? Everyone?"

"All the same," says Robert Greene, "I rather like that 'band of brothers' bit you've thrown in here. That whole speech gives me a lump in my throat."

"Bearbaiting give you a lump in the throat," says Marlow. "The point is, comedies are the hot trend now. The Comedy of Henry V? Hm."

"God knows, the French are a ridiculous bunch," says Kyd, "especially when fighting or making love. Make more use of that. You never exploit enough potential in your work."

"True, Will." Marlow nods. "You know 'tis true. Again, in my opinion. Take it for what 'tis worth."

"I thought some parts of Henry's dialogue were quite amusing," Greene says. "But why are all of Falstaff's scenes offstage? Your audience loves Falstaff. You cannot let him die in bed offstage. You'll lose your audience."

"Falstaff," cries Kyd. "There was never anything funny about that buffoon! Kill him off in Henry IV is what I wish you'd done."

"The thing about comedies," says Kyd. "'Tis the trend for plays being produced this month. We need to predict the trends coming up a month from now. Ben, you've been unusually silent. What is your take on Will's play? Should it be a comedy?"

"Eh? Is it my turn? Well, I've no problem with the play as a drama, but grammar and punctuation –" Jonson sighs. "Will you never learn to do it properly? I don't think you're even trying. Let's begin with Act I, Scene i, line 5 . . ."

Jan Rider Newman is a published writer of short stories, poetry, and nonfiction, currently writing a fantasy novel. She co-edits and publishes Swamp Lily Review, An Online Journal of Louisiana Literature & Arts (; contributes articles and book reviews to the Best Damn Creative Writing Blog (; edits the Gator Talk newsletter for the Bayou Writers' Group; and is the group's current webmaster.


  1. Kyd, Marlowe, Greene, and Jonson should just be glad I wasn't there. I'd take up poor browbeaten Will's cause.

    And for what it's worth, Henry V is my favorite of good ol' Will's plays. :D Who can resist the St. Crispin's Day speech? Or the "Upon the king" speech (my favorite)? Or Harry's humorous wooing of Kate?

    It's a good thing the Bard didn't listen to his critics. ;)

    Great post, Ms. Jan!


  2. Thanks, Keaghan. I had fun and am glad you enjoyed the post.