Mrs. Shakespeare: Opening Scene.


Mrs Shakespeare.   William Shakespeare.  Act 1, Scene 1

This text is used in our interview with Irene Kelleher.

(A woman – Will – is writing in her diary with a quill.)

22nd April.

When I first revealed to other people that I was William Shakespeare reincarnated, they laughed. They’d always come up with the same ridiculous comments:

“But you’re a woman?”

Well, I’d hardly come back identical. If I return as a baldy little bloke with a goatee, that’s not reincarnation – that’s an encore. Then again, how do we know I wasn’t a woman in my first life? Maybe I was a cross dressing transvestite, like Rosalind, Portia, Julia, Viola and just about every other woman in the Complete Works of Me.

“Well,” they say next, “if you’re Shakespeare, how come you don’t write brilliant plays?”

I tell them about the reincarnated Jesus who once asked: what do you expect: miracles? And anyhow, I can remember getting slagged off in my first life as a young upstart crow. But then later generations saw things very differently. So it means nothing that my masterpieces of this century are getting terrible reviews.  I know in a couple of hundred years my more recent history plays like: Hitler the First and Charles the Third (Not), will be seen as classics. 

My psychiatrist Henry, keeps asking me how I know I’m a great playwright, when all the reviews of my work point to the contrary. He even quotes the newspapers to me:

(Will takes on the role of an Austrian psychiatrist)

“Where was it now … Ah, yes … Hmmm… “Never in my life have I sat through a farce quite so bad as The Merry Wives of Henry the Eighth. I laughed my head on..” … (Henry chuckles) … Gut ya. Gut … Oh. Look. Here is another newspaper. What does this one say I wonder? “…The comedy: Titus Androgynous by a woman writer named William Shakespeare would appear to be a joke in every respect except that it is not remotely funny…” 

Yet – as I tell Henry frequently – if I’m not a reincarnated Shakespeare, how come I can remember every detail of my past life? Even Anne seducing me beside a brook in Arden, the bank on which we lay, a bed of wild thyme, oxlips and nodding violets. The dress she plucked off over her head was brown, and there was a wart on her knee.

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