A message from the Brothers Redcloud:
In this age of enlightenment that we now find ourselves (cars, televisions,
and computers that will ultimately conquer and enslave mankind) we are
sometimes too quick to dismiss the merits of the past; its artists and
In its zeal for advancement, humanity appears to have shrugged off such
geniuses as Shakespeare and Sophocles (claiming them as far too inaccessible
to mainstream audiences) in favor of the more currently popular metaphysical
thrillers (ie. Notting Hill and Boogie Nights).
In an attempt to show just how accessible and relevant these writers still
remain, the following excerpt of a heretofore unpublished Shakespeare play
is presented for your consideration, done so as a public service for the
A Bit on Shakespeare's Times
During Shakespeare's latter years, transformations were taking place within the maturing writer. For one thing, he was opening himself to new possibilities, expanding his artistic limits to incorporate new literary conventions. And yet, simultaneously, he was providing the framework for what would eventually prove to be the basis of Saturday morning cartoons in the 1980s. This later genius, much overlooked, has never quite been given the literary attention and historical respect that it deserves, more often overlooked in favor of such stage favorites of his as Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, Death of a Salesman, and Bananas. What follows is a brief overview of Elizabethan theater at about this time, and a setup towards understanding that period of Shakespeare's writing.
To begin with, it is interesting to note that due to the conservative nature of Elizabethan theater at this very specific time in history, the roles of Transformers were played by young, nubile Go-Bots. Also, due to the fact that the actors often doubled up on parts, playing numerous characters in the same play (as a result of the relatively small size of the acting troupe), most of the actors onstage at any given moment were indeed Go-Bots.
Fortunately for Shakespeare, Go-Bots were very malleable, taking on, for instance, a robot form to play the role of Lady Macbeth, while merely converting into, say, a jet plane in order to then take on the role of the Porter. This held the Elizabethan audience's suspension of disbelief intact, while dispelling the previously ludicrous notion that humans could believably play two different characters, or so successfully act in tragedic form.
The following is a recovered snippet fragment of one of Shakespeare's near lost histories. Following the snippet, the "Tentative Ode to Mumm-Ra" is reproduced in order to give the reader some insight through certain works Shakespeare himself may have used as sources of historical inspiration.
Of The Contention Betwixt The Iluftre Houfes of Eternia and Grayfkull; and the Death of the Goode Man-at-Arms, Duke of Arcadia; and the most Tragic death of Urko
*Now with updated spelling and footnotes!
*Additions and footnotes have been made in brackets to the original text
He-Man: Ah, Adam. Is't he Adam or He-Man, I durst know not. My trusty friend a cat, my kingdom a toy. But what of this cat, who turns from cowardly to courage? Is it that Adam and He-Man separate in such terms? Oh, Adam; wherefore art thou Adam? * My wings, as proud Icarus *, melted asunder. And of She-Ra. Our names so importing the mingle of ourselves; and yet never to consummate in erectile embrace. Wherefore art thou She-Ra? *
Enter She-Ra [Princess of Power].
She-Ra: He-Man, cleave my body with your sword as gracefully as though hads't your enemies in battle, or would thou list'n awhile to me? *
He: Better I should cleave your tongue with my sword.
She: Shame reckless He-Man, for shame. Catch your words and drink them up again.
He: Aye She-Ra. Weres't thou but water, I would drink you. But as it were, I must eat you. * Silence, someone approaches.
Exeunt [He-Man and She-Ra]. Enter Man[-at-Arms].
Man-at-Arms: Ah, Man-at-Arms, Man-at-Arms, your glories hath faded. No further may I brook * these arduous treasons of time, whose vile contempt hath withered this noble oak *. Ah, Tee-La. Too haughty for her suitors, and yet too lewd a wench for it be believed her purity intact, I doubt *.
Skeletor: Man-At-Arms, and bane to the house of Eternia.
Man: Skeletor. Whose foul reek and fickle features doth pertain mightily unto your namesake. * Defend yourself if you be so inclined!
Skel: Then to your death am I resigned! To Hell, to Hell; and declare that Skeletor hath sent thee tither!
Man: Prepare for this, thy final test! [Aside:] Though I wonder at this match, if it be just, or jest.
They fight. Man[-at-Arms] stabbed. [a] cock [croweth]. *
Skel: A cock of your own doth crow in the distance decaying man. And so a cock for you. *
Man: Hear Skeletor, and though may'st kiss my cock.*
Skel: Aye, that I will. And sup upon it tonight.
[Man-at-Arms] Dies. Enter Leechor [Master of Power Suction]. *
Leechor: Aye, I be Leechor, Master of Power Suction. A character of much repute and stature. No water squirteth from my noggin, as some snake of plastic *. Nor a furry beast of pernicious desires. What of my value? What of Leechor? One thing above all else is know of me, and known by all. I suck. Of all characters in the land of Eternia, I suck the most. Aye, that much be known of me. Most recently have I sucked the blood of some poor wandering ass, and from balls of fruit forgotten the road beside; a globe of pure wonder and delight on this day of swelter. For 'tis true, and all know it who buy me *, that I suck; I suck ass, and I suck balls. [Aside:] Aye, though some thinking my plastic character of suction to be not good enough for their own cock.
Enter Optimus [Prime, et al. On the opposite side of the stage].
Optimus: Autobats, transformen. Our time has passed, the light faded from our figures of grand design and those patches of secret designation, unlocked by the warmth of a finger.
Hot Rod: Are none left to mourn for us?
Optim: Alas, none have played with nor fondled my very Hot Rod for some years besides.
Hot: Aye, to that I can attest.
Optim: But who be that in the distance?
Hot: The Thundercats my liege.
Optim: Call to them.
Bumblebee: Thundercats; Thundercats, Ho.
[Enter Mumm-Ra.] *
Optim: [Aside:] Mumm-Ra, Mumm-Ra, that bastard of Skeletor. How dost though fare gentle * Mumm-Ra?
- "Why are you an Adam?" This section is a bit ambiguous.
- Icarus was the son of Dedealus. Dedealus was trapped on the island of Crete. In order to escape, he fashioned wings for himself to fly to the Peleponnesus. He made it, thankfully, and all was well.
- "Why are you She-Ra, and not rather someone I may engage in sexual acts with?"
- With bawdy suggestion; and in the next line.
- There is some bawdy suggestion here in that since She-Ra is not a liquid, she must be eaten. For it was thought to be a sign of virility when a man was able to devour an entire woman and then engage in sexual intercourse with another man.
- brook: "endure"
- An "oak" is a kind of tree.
- doubt: "fear"
- Some biblical reference.
- A "cock" was a piece exchanged as currency. An obvious pun on words ensues. ["a cock of your own" as the action takes place on the grounds of Man-at-Arms' own territories.]
- Skeletor is here being likened to Judas.
- The quarto spelling (and indeed in Holinshed's Chronicles Volume 4) "Lekhor"; "Leechor" in the First Folio Edition. After the death of Man-At-Arms, Leechor appears as comic relief to allay tensions.
- Perhaps a reference to Adam's biblical fall from grace, likened to Adam of Eternia. Though the obviously intended punned reference to Adam here is confused with the overthrown Adam of Mylea, grandfather to Adam of Eternia and Sir Edmund Mortimer of the House of York who had, historically, died seventeen years earlier.
- buy me: "Hire my services." Leechor appears as a highwayman of sorts whose powers utterly suck.
- The actor playing Mumm-Ra was probably waiting offstage until this point, though the quarto version indicates that he removes himself at some point during Jazz' lengthy monologue.
- gentle: "noble"
Tentative Ode to Mumm-Ra*
Mum-Ra, Mum-Ra, whose furnace hast gone low,
Your glories quickly fading
Your love desire's glow;
A burning inclination
Of feasts and days to come,
Of further honors yet attained,
Of victors smart and numb;
And yet when all is said and claimed,
Of all that hath been won,
The Thundercats do come along
To see it all undone.
*found amongst the Skeletor love letters