I've received several requests over the years to make my early drafts of Shakespeare in Love available.
Here's one of them
Shakespeare in Love, First Draft
FADE IN EXT LONG SHOT LONDON DAY The great city at the end of the sixteenth century, all wood and plaster and thatch, hard by a river full of traffic. Nearby, the ROSE, one of London's theaters, a three-story affair, six-sided so it's almost round. Inside, three galleries circle a dirt pit with a bare stage thrust into it. It's a bright June day--the only smoke in the entire city rises from a chimney at the theater's rear. HENSLOWE (V.O.) To tell you my story of the first performance of Romeo and Juliet,, I must go back to the year 1594... INT ROSE HENSLOWE'S ROOM A thug of a man, HUGH FENNYMAN, forces the bare feet of a half-dressed theater owner in his mid-thirties, PHILLIP HENSLOWE, into the fireplace while two henchmen, LAMBERT and FREES, hold him down in a chair. HENSLOWE (V.O.) In the spring of that year, I was experiencing certain business difficulties... LAMBERT They're starting to melt. FENNYMAN Like candles, Phillip, leaving stubs--you'll have to roll around London on little wheels. What am I used to, Lambert? LAMBERT People paying... FENNYMAN Why, Mr. Frees? FREES 'Cos they fear the consequences, Mr. Fennyman... Gurgling, Henslowe tugs Fennyman's arm--Fennyman lets him speak.
2. HENSLOWE I do fear you, Mr. Fennyman, and my rolling around London on wheels might give you a momentary leisure, but it won't pay you. The truth is, it's gone--bad investments, same as you... Fennyman thrusts him towards the fire--Henslowe yells. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Don't you see? we're partners, yoked side by side in the same quandary. Our one chance, dear Mister Fennyman, mine and yours as well, is where we stand... He wrenches free, rushes across the room to a water bucket and stands in it. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) The theater.. INT STAGE The thugs march Henslowe out onto the open stage, enclosed by its empty galleries. FENNYMAN I went to the theater once--I didn't like it... HENSLOWE But how much did you pay..? FENNYMAN A penny. HENSLOWE My point--you paid a penny for something sight unseen. Each day, thousands do, filling theaters all over London, buying not a commodity they can hold in their hand but the mere hope of entertainment··· Fennyman's losing interest--Henslowe speaks for his life.
3. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) The plays of our youth--rustic farces in the street; in twenty years, great tragedies, histories, lofty words from the finest actors in impressive surroundings such as these. One penny, like yours, for entrance, another for the gallery, a third for a cushion, that times fifteen hundred a night, three hundred and fifty nights a year. It's a gold mine, a mint--A Game Of Chess, 1592, nine nights, one hundred and sixty pounds net--it's the greatest device for parting people from their money since the inception of the Christian Church. Let me put up a play, Mr. Fennyman··· FENNYMAN If you were any good at it, we wouldn't be here··· HENSLOWE This will be different--I will gather a new company, I'll draw on a close personal relationship with the finest playwright in the field. He's very fast, very cooperative... Fennyman looks over at Frees and Lambert. Lambert draws a finger across his neck. Henslowe falls to his knees. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) ·..He will write and I will bring forth on these boards, I swear, a resounding success in, swearing again, two weeks. Two weeks, Mr. Fennyman, an eye blink in your advancing career, but life for me and a chance to repay you... Lambert and Frees are closing in. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) ··.Double--not only the sixty pounds but twice over, one hundred and twenty, plus interest. The hoods consider for a beat. LAMBERT I liked the fire better··· So did Fennyman--he throws Henslowe hard against a pillar.
4. FENNYMAN That's my first answer, which predicates all others. It's amazing how as I rise in life, I meet a lower class of clientele... But there's something in the offer that gives him pause. FENNYMAN (CONT'D) For sake of argument, say I weaken and agree to this-- who is this nine day's wonder..? CUT TO EXT LONDON HOUSE DAY Henslowe is pounding on the door of a house in Southwark. Two windows open overhead--in one, an irate LANDLORD, the other, a voluptuous HOUSEWIFE. HENSLOWE Will Shakepeare··? MAN Gone. And if he shows up here again, 1'11 tear his head off and hand it back to him..· He slams the window shut. The housewife closes hers--but waves goodby to Henslowe with her fingers. INT TAVERN DAY Jammed, smoky--Henslowe among the PLAYWRIGHTS, a scruffy bunch, all scribbling for their next beer. PLAYWRIGHT ONE What rhymes with "castle"..? PLAYWRIGHT TWO That line-stealer, that pisspot pentameter purloiner of other people's thunder? No, no-one's seen him. .
5. PLAYWRIGHT THREE (answering him) "Asshole"... EXT LONDON BRIDGE SHAKESPEARE AND HENSLOWE SUNSET WILL SHAKESPEARE is a troubled man. Henslowe can tell by his walk as he catches up with him through the bridge crowd. Will's turned thirty this year--he wears a dirty doublet, a jewel-encrusted sword too long for him, and all his worldly belongings beneath his arms. HENSLOWE Will--I've been looking for you··. WILL The soul of love, Phillip..· HENSLOWE Yes..· WILL What do all men seek...? HENSLOWE The soul of love... WILL And I have sought it, with widows, with countesses and with whores, large breasts and small, short legs and long, smooth-faced and pocked, entering them not only for pleasure but in the hopes of reaching the pith, the very bottom of love. And what did I find..? He turns to Henslowe--he's been concealing a black eye. WILL (CONT'D) Everything else--vanity, shallowness ·.. HENSLOWE Maybe you haven't found the right one yet..· WILL I was speaking of myself. I am love's fool, Phillip-- I trip over my own feet, I grow tongue-tied. I put sluts on pedestals, degrade honest women. I kiss the candle and blow out the girl.. EXT LONDON STREET INCLUDING PURITAN
6. A Puritan preacher MAKEPEACE ABSOLUTION, trussed up like a turkey in his black suit, harangues the passing crowd from a box. MAKEPEACE ··.And worst of all in these wretched plays, double-dealing ambidextoes, men as women, men in pearls and ermine, flirting hands, batting lashes, men/women crying for their men abroad or counseling some king to regicide, and thence to bed for some act impossible to imagine. Oh, society upside down, oh rebellion of morality, snare to children, oh God, tear down this wicked theater of corruption··! Henslowe passes, chasing Will, like everyone else, not paying Makepeace much attention. HENSLOWE Will, I'd exhausted my credit at the usual places, I was forced to borrow from a certain Fennyman... WILL The thief..? HENSLOWE And murderer. He's in usury now. I need a play in two weeks or I'll lose the Rose and end up floating like a log in the river we just passed over... WILL I can't write anything... HENSLOWE We've had success together--we've made money... WILL You cheated me... HENSLOWE And you threatened to sue, and I paid--what greater proof of friendship? Come to Whitehall--I want to show you something··· He takes some of Will's gear. WILL We won't get in...
7. HENSLOWE I have a way··· EXT WHITEHALL PALACE GATE The most prosperous theater company in town, Lord Pembroke's Men, hauls its trunks through a side door for a command performance that night. Among them, Henslowe gets Will to help him with a trunk. The self-important company lead, RICHARD ROWLEY, spots them. ROWLEY Stealing, Henslowe..? HENSLOWE Lending a hand, Richard. In the spirit of our profession. Hefting the trunk, Henslowe notices Will's covered his face with his scarf. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) You're hiding your face... He realizes he's hiding it from Rowley. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) You've been with his wife... WILL A literary woman--I thought she had possibilities. Reaching the door, a yeoman assumes they're with the company, lets them pass. INT PERFORMANCE HALL NIGHT At the apex of the torch-lit hall sits QUEEN ELIZABETH herself, makeup coating her sixty years, her eyes still glinting. Around the walls, ranks of lords and ladies sit stiffly in their peacock finery, watching the Pembrokes perform. Will and Henslowe stand to the side of the temporary stage--the company's doing Will's Two Gentlemen of Verona. Rowley has the audience in stitches. WILL How I despise that. HENSLOWE It's your play...
8. WILL He's ad-libbing lines--they always do, milk for laughs, butcher the story; not that it matters-- everyone thinks the actors make up the words as they walk about... HENSLOWE But look at them. You watch the stage--I watch the audience, I know what they want; it's you, more of you, torrents, they want to be ravished by your words of love··· WILL Love... He says it too loudly--people around him shush him. WILL (CONT'D) (Quieter) Love is madness. Love is a special form of pain··· SAM GOSSE, the Pembroke's young leading girl player, steps up beside them, nods hello, adjusts his breasts and makes an entrance as Rowley exits. HENSLOWE Look at her... Henslowe's pointing across the room--Will looks. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) She knows all your lines··· ANGLE BELINDA In the line of Ladies in Waiting near the Queen, twenty-five year old BELINDA DE LESSEPS. Her beauty's different from those around her--she's natural, unadorned; it makes her stand out. She wears a signet ring with the letter A, unimportant now, significant later. Her look is downcast- eyes lowered, she's whispering, by heart, the lines of the scene on stage. Beside her sits her NURSE, a lusty older woman. She nudges her. ANGLE LORD WESSEX, LORD, LADY ARUNDEL, EDGAR DE LESSEPS Across the room. WESSEX is in his forties, dark, cruel, self important. He's trying to catch Belinda's eye. Beside him, her parents, LORD and LADY ARUNDEL, redfaced, bilious, annoyed with their daughter, and Belinda's brother EDGAR DE LESSEPS, an overdressed boob.
9. ANGLE BELINDA She knows what the nudge means. She won't look at Wessex- she's enraptured by the words. ANGLE TWO LADIES IN WAITING Two homely sisters watch this interaction. LADY ONE Belinda De Lesseps--so contrary. Why doesn't Wessex like me--or you, for that matter··? LADY TWO Your father doesn't hold the monopoly in sweet wine. ANGLE WESSEX AND EDGAR Wessex clearly annoyed. EDGAR She's afraid, my lord, the way mortals can't look at the sun, for fear of blindness··· WESSEX She's not all that attractive- she'd better 1ook... ANGLE STAGE WINGS WILL Seeing Belinda whispering his lines, Will's heart breaks in sudden two. He stares at her. ANGLE BELINDA Aware of Will across the room. She raises her eyes, sees him, him looking at her. She smiles shyly.
10. NURSE (whispering) Is that him..? (on Belinda's nod) He's handsome. ANGLE WESSEX Shoving people aside to find out who Belinda's looking at. He follows her eyes across the room--and spots Will. ANGLE ELIZABETH AND COURTIERS Those around the Queen glance between Belinda and Wessex- gossip is more interesting than the play. Even Elizabeth notices. ANGLE WILL AND HENSLOWE Henslowe seeing the love-struck look on Will's face. HENSLOWE She's transfixed, pinned to her seat. What a gift you have--what I wouldn't give for one ounce of it... But Will forcefully tears his eyes from Belinda. He stalks off. WILL I'm a cheat. HENSLOWE Don't say that... WILL I pretend to know about love. I move words around. Put a pistol to my head, I could not tell you one thing about it, except it rhymes with "dove"... Henslowe hurries after, not giving up. EXT LONDON STREETS WILL AND HENSLOWE NIGHT Walking together, breaths misting in the night air.
11. WILL But if I could find the soul of love. Think of it, Phillip--I could bring it back, like Prometheus brought fire, to liberate us all. If we could touch the soul of love, think of it--we could move the world, stop its spin, we'd have such a power... ANGLE WILL, HENSLOWE, WESSEX AND EDGAR 21 Turning a corner, lost in his passion, Will stumbles head on into Lord Wessex, with Edgar beside him. Wessex trips backward, into the muck at the center of the street. WILL I beg your pardon... Wessex regards his mired hose, looks up at Will, fuming. WESSEX You, a second time.. WILL I'm sorry--we haven't met. WESSEX Wessex of Chealth. You laid your actor's eyes on my girl tonight- now you insult me twice. That's a sword at your side.... WILL My father's... WESSEX (drawing his) Rather fine for you··· He thrusts at Will, who backpedals awkwardly, pulling his own. WILL Believe me, I meant no offense then.. He blocks another Wessex thrust. WILL (CONT'D) But I take it now.. EDGAR My lord, the Queen forbids swordplay...
12. WESSEX The Queen's an old lady, not long for us... Will's not as skillful, but he's putting up a fight. WESSEX (CONT'D) You know something of this.·· WILL We must--people who live by their swords come and see us; they know if it's fake... WESSEX (driving at him) How I hate actors. Dressed in our cast-off clothes, pretending to be us, on-stage and worse, off. But you only know slap-sword--never actually skewered a man, have you..? He gets inside Will's guard, flicks his sword away, trips him so he falls on his back. Wessex lays his point against Will's throat. WESSEX (CONT'D) Never felt the grind of blade on gristle... FULLER ANGLE As two NIGHT WATCHMEN hurry up with their halbreds, brought by the sound of the fight. WATCHMAN ONE My lord, I pray--please put up your sword or we must arrest you. Wessex steps back from Will, sheathes his sword. WESSEX No blood--besides, it's over. Take warning, Shakescene--beware, lest your eyes be your undoing... He motions to Edgar and they head off. ANGLE WILL AND HENSLOWE The night watchmen stand by--Henslowe, who's been discreetly hiding in a doorway, helps Will stand.
13. WILL You see? More madness. I didn't look at his girl--I have no idea who his girl is. He could have killed me. Who was that··? HENSLOWE Lord Wessex--a climber. Deadly swordsman-- he found his first wife in bed with a lover and one sword did the work of two. Will, this has not been the best day of your life--I suggest a change of fortune... He brushes him off, walks off with him. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Don't think of writing a play for me--do it for us; be my partner, in a company. You have been underappreciated, it's true; write a play that's in your heart--you'll mount it, the actors will say your words exactly, you'll get no salary, no, no pound an act, hired man and farewell, you'll get a cut of the house each night- you'll become, with this play, among one of the most exclusive groups in town: you'll be a sharer. Work--that's the best antidote; hard labor--not long, two weeks, intensive--you'll come out a new man, head clear, blood purged, ready to pursue your quest for love once more. WILL You'll say anything, won't you, Phillip..? HENSLOWE To save my theater. Will, if you ever loved me... Will says nothing--Henslowe takes that as a good sign. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) You must have something stuck away you could pull out··· WILL Romeo and Juliet HENSLOWE Latinate. I love it already..·
14. WILL I loathed it--I wrote one scene·.· HENSLOWE A comedy... WILL Misbegotten. HENSLOWE But a comedy, fluff, by-the-umbers, young lovers, a Sea Captain, a Bandit Chief, confusions of identity, a marriage at the end.... WILL Something like that. HENSLOWE Perfect--inoffensive, a crowd pleaser, they'll flock to us. Two weeks, Will--Fortune's Wheel will spin, we'll look back on this night and smile. You can stay with me at the Rose... Will's about to say no--but Henslowe's worn him down. Maybe he's right. INT ROOM AT THE ROSE NIGHT A small room, one window, a skylight--Will unpacks his things. He's taken out a miniature framed portrait of a man and put it prominently on a table. Now he takes out a folio marked "Romeo and Juliet." There's only a few sheets in it- he sighs as he reads over them. A knock on the door--PETER, old, long-suffering, the Rose's scribe, stage manager, and general gofer, sticks his head in. PETER Mr. Shakespeare. Good to be working with you again... WILL Hullo, Peter--nice to see you. Only these. More tomorrow··. He hands the pages over and Peter exits. Will turns to the fire, shaking his head. WILL (CONT'D) But what do I know about love...?
15. HENSLOWE (V .O.) I'd gained breathing space. With luck, the play would work. I thought my worst problems were behind me. I did not know what lay ahead.·· CUT TO EXT INNS OF COURT HEMMINGS BROTHERS AND WILL DAY Will's tracked down JOHN and JAMES HEMMINGS, brothers and actors, in their thirties, to a bench outside the Inns of Court, both wrapped in bandages, waiting to testify. They're fighing over space on the bench--they always fight. In the background, Henslowe, Peter, Fennyman, Lambert, Frees, and Sam Gosse. JOHN We were in a building that collapsed. WILL You look terrible... JAMES Why--do you have a part..? WILL For both of you, but you're busy... Both brothers stand, start stripping off their bandages, getting in each others way. JOHN There was no building. JAMES These aren't real--we're bearing false witness in a lawsuit... He takes out a walnut on a cord around his neck, kisses it. JAMES (CONT'D) Burbage Junior gave me this the day we went up in Tammerlane. See how it serves me... JOHN Who's that with Phillip--Hugh Fennyman..? WILL He's the investor...
16. JAMES (reacting) Ah. Who's the lead..? INT THEATER DAY Another theater in town--the group watches while a young ACTOR on stage reads Romeo's lines from sides that Peter's prepared. Sam reads for Juliet. SAM Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much/ Which mannerly devotions shows in this;/ For saints have hands that pilgrims's hands do touch,/ And palm to palm is holy palmer's kiss. ACTOR Have not saints lips, and holy palmers too? SAM Ay, pilgrim, lips that they must use in prayer. ACTOR O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do!/ They pray; grant thou, lest faith turns to despair·.. ANGLE AUDIENCE WILL AND HENSLOWE Will's shaking his head--he's not satisfied. Henslowe nods, but can't help glancing nervously at Fennyman behind him. Beside him sits a wispy young man named WABASH. EXT LONDON STREET BASHFORD DAY RALPH BASHFORD'S a red-nosed, leather-lunged bear of a man in his fifties--he's selling strawberries door to door, ellowing "strawberries--housewives, here are your strawberries," as Will approaches. BASHFORD Will--well met; haven't seen you in months. Strawberries··? WILL No, Ralph, but a part, if you want it...
17. BASHFORD What wonderful news. Playing what..? WILL I don't know yet--we'll find something... BASHFORD Will has offered me a role··· He dances a small jig of joy. BASHFORD (CONT'D) With any luck, it will match my stage triumph in Muly Mullocco. How kind of you, Will, to think of me--I'm so superabundantly happy··· (turning to the crowd) "Fresh strawberries--gratis, free·.·" People grab berries from all sides. BASHFORD (CONT'D) And by the way, you'll be gratified to know I've stopped... He makes a tippling gesture as they head for the group. INT THEATER DAY Another Romeo audition, another theater, the expanded group, this time with a vain young actor named BELLING. SAM Saints do not move, though grant for prayers's sake. BELLING Then move not while my prayer's effect I take./ Thus from my lips, by thine my sin is purged··· He mimes a stagey kiss. ANGLE GROUP Watching. Henslowe whispers to Will. HENSLOWE He wants a huge salary, but he's worth it. Splendid, isn't he..? Will shakes his head. Henslowe groans.
18. INT BACKSTAGE GROUP TRACKING Passing through backstage, heading for the street. WILL He's not my Romeo... HENSLOWE He's the best first love in London... WILL He saws the air with his hands. Are we partners or not, Phillip? And who is that..? He's noticed Wabash. HENSLOWE Young Wabash, my landlord's son. I promised him a role, in lieu of rent... EXT ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL GROUP TRACKING DAY Henslowe is insistent. HENSLOWE Will--it's only a play··· FENNYMAN (OVERHEARING) ...Half a day closer to its debut, and you ain't even begun writing, Mr. Shakespeare. Hot day, eh, Mr. Frees...? FREES Very hot. Torrid. Makes me melt... Henslowe grips Will's arm. From the side, a man falls in step with Will--he's dressed in the most tasteless of Elizabethan fashions, he's an oaf, his voice is annoying, and his name's OLIVER WIDMERPOOL. WIDMERPOOL Hello, Will--I heard you were evicted··. WILL Hello Widmerpool..
19. WIDMERPOOL (looking him over) Shabby--! could cut you one at a very nice price when some money comes in... (holding him back) My news is, I'm planning a sort of reunion for those of us from Stratford and you must come. A day of revelry with your old friends... WILL I'm sorry--I have no time. WIDMERPOOL I've even composed a song.. WILL I'm busy, Widmerpool. You'll have to excuse me--I can't come. He hurries to catch the others. WIDMERPOOL I won't take no for an answer. I'll let you know the date··· EXT CATHEDRAL GROUP The group passes one of the cathedral side halls--through a door, they can hear applause from inside. Will stops. WILL Let's look in there··· HENSLOWE (incredulous) A children's company..? INT ST. PAUL'S HALL For that's what it is--a dramatic company solely of children, eight to eighteen, elegantly costumed, performing sophisticated court comedies in a cathedral hall, the amusement being their little voices piping weighty lines and nine-year olds in love scenes. Will and the group stand behind the crowd. Company members nod to them; everybody in this world knows each other.
20. HENSLOWE Little apes. Taking audience away from serious productions, such as mine.·· He's ready to go, but Will shushes him--a young man (THOMAS ARUNDEL) has made an entrance. He's not the lead--it's a small part--but something about him, his dark hair, his adolescent moustache, his graceful gestures, makes Will pause. ANGLE THOMAS On stage, doing his lines. He's very attractive--he has a natural stage presence. ANGLE WILL AND OTHERS Henslowe sees Will staring at the boy. HENSLOWE Him..? WILL We should read him··. HENSLOWE But he's a child... Will is serious. Henslowe sighs. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) I'll leave word. He steps to a company member and whispers. CUT TO INT ROSE STAGE NIGHT As Thomas Arundel steps onto the Rose's stage, peering into the darkness. Will, Henslowe, Fennyman, Lambert, Frees and Peter are there--Sam stands stage right. THOMAS Thomas Arundel. I had a note to come···
21. HENSLOWE It was mine--I'm Phillip Henslowe. We're doing Romeo and Juliet--Mr. Fennyman, Mr. Frees and Mr. Lambert, my associates, Sam Gosse over there, and that's Will Shakespeare··· The name startles Thomas. THOMAS I didn't know... HENSLOWE Yes--he's our poet. Would you be so kind as to read for us the part of Romeo··? Sam hands him the sides. Thomas glances them over, whispers he's ready, and they begin to read the palmer's kiss scene. Sam's tired from the long day--he reads with little enthusiasm. And Thomas is nervous--he does poorly, flubs some of his lines. When they reach the kiss, Sam fakes it, kisses air. ANGLE GROUP Disappointed--they all know it was bad. Will suddenly stands. WILL Sam's tired--let me try with him··· ANGLE STAGE Will climbs on stage, speaks to Sam, trades places with him.He whispers to Thomas privately. WILL Scared..? THOMAS Very much so. WILL First time with an adult company·.·? Thomas nods. They're edgy with each other. Will's voice cracks--he clears his throat.
22. WILL (CONT'D) You wouldn't be here if I didn't think you could do it. Try it again, take your time. I'll be Juliet··· Thomas nods again and they begin. Something extraordinary happens--reading with Will, Thomas is stronger, his voice becomes passionate. Will is a great Juliet; each brings out the best in the other. WILL (CONT'D) Saints do not move, though grant for prayer's sake. THOMAS Then move not while my prayer's effect I take/Thus from my lips, by thine my sin is purged... It's the cue for the kiss. Neither's sure what to do, to do it, as the lines dictate, or not, to pull out of the scene. Both are tense. WILL He kisses her here... ANGLE AUDIENCE Relieved at how Will's dealt with it. ANGLE WILL AND THOMAS Both swallow. But there are lines left in the scene. WILL Then have my lips the sin that they have took. THOMAS Sin from my lips? O trespass sweetly urged/ Give me my sin again... They confront the cue again. They hesitate--their lips approach. It's not that one commits before the other, but both at the same moment. Their lips meet, linger--then part. ANGLE AUDIENCE A knowing glance from Fennyman to Frees--he knew all these theater types were fruits. ANGLE WILL AND THOMAS Not breathing, regarding each other.
23. ANGLE GROUP HENSLOWE He's been silent--but now he realizes Will's picked his Romeo. He begins to applaud loudly--Peter joins in. SAM (beside Henslowe, sourly) How young do you expect me to play her··.? HENSLOWE His age--sixteen. SAM Fuck me. Of course, I can do it... ANGLE WILL AND THOMAS Both still frozen. Will's voice cracks again. WILL That was very nice... THOMAS Thank you. WILL Would you like the part..? THOMAS Yes--very much... WILL Be here at nine tomorrow and we'll begin. His heart's thumping in his chest--he has no idea why. CUT TO INT SHAKESPEARE'S ROOM NIGHT Late--Will at his table, lit by candlelight. He's trying to write--he stares at the pages, still confused by what happened. In a corner, Lambert, bored, cleans his teeth with a straw, sucking when he loosens something.
24. LAMBERT How do you do it? You hear people talking in your head, or do you put pen to paper and see what comes out..? Will tries to ignore him. LAMBERT (CONT'D) Any time that's best? I'm good in the morning, in the afternoon, I often tire, but by evening, a new energy comes over me and I can go all night... WILL Mr. Lambert, I'm never sure how it works, but I know it's an agonizing and solitary process, and you being here is a great inconvenience... LAMBERT Worse if I weren't, because it might be Fennyman, and if he thought you weren't scribbling, he'd rearrange this place to its detriment... Will tries to force something--he takes his pen, starts to write, then watches as it traces out the word "Thomas." He violently crosses it out, stands, grabs a cape. WILL I must get air, Mr. Lambert... LAMBERT Open a window... WILL Outside. I'll be back... EXT LONDON STREET WILL NIGHT Will alone down the empty streets, in a panic. WILL "Thomas." You wrote "Thomas." You wrote a boy's name.·· He finds himself in front of a shop window--he stops, addresses his reflection.
25. WILL (CONT'D) It's you, isn't it--it's your doing, you who's always been my compass, and I've always followed you, since Stratford. You pointed here at London and I came here--you pointed at women and I went to women, but now you swing and point at a boy, all because of that one kiss, that spider's kiss- you point at the jagged reef, the ship foundering, hull split, rigging torn, masts tumbling, the whirlpool, Will drowned, lost forever···. He is talking to his crotch--and his crotch does not respond. CUT TO INT ROSE STAGE DAY It's the first exciting day of a company coming together. Thomas squeezes through the crowd, the leads, new actors for small parts, stagehands. Bashford is vocalizing, Sam's sending off a pretty girl, Wabash stands with a lost look, and Peter argues with the Hemmings brothers. JAMES You're too old for a bandit... JOHN A year more than you, and I've the physique.. JAMES Mystique, I'd call it, it being mystical how it functions with that slop you feed it... Peter breaks them up, handing out their sides. PETER John, the Bandit Chief--James, the Captain··· INT BACKSTAGE FENNYMAN FREES AND LAMBERT Entering through the backstage confusion. Fennyman collars Henslowe as he passes. FENNYMAN Nine o'clock, and nothing accomplished? A bad beginning··.
26. HENSLOWE I was just gathering the company. A tradition of the theater--I like to make a small speech the first day of rehersal... He motions to Peter to gather the actors, but Fennyman pushes past. INT STAGE FENNYMAN I'll make it. Peter calls the actors to attention--Fennyman draws himself up to speak. FENNYMAN (CONT'D) You're all a pack of worthless scrubs until proven otherwise, as far as I'm concerned. I, Hugh Fennyman, am the solitary one to please here, and if you don't pleasure me, beware your testicles... The company, unused to this treatment, protects, figuratively, its testicles. Henslowe puts on a smile. HENSLOWE That sums it up. Peter, we'll start with Thomas and Sam, the poems on the trees... ANGLE HENSLOWE AND WABASH Helping clear the stage, Henslowe comes upon Wabash. WABASH What do I do..? Henslowe positions him near one of the two large pillars that hold up the stage roof and points to his sides. HENSLOWE When Thomas stops talking, say Carin's lines.·· ANGLE STAGE Henslowe joins Will in the pit, Fennyman and his men behind them. On stage, Peter cues Thomas, who enters and crosses downstage to the other pillar. Reading off his sides, he mimes hanging poems on a tree trunk.
27. THOMAS Hang there, my verses, in witness of my love: And thou, thrice crowned Queen of Night, survey/With thy chaste eye, from thy pale sphere above,/ Thy huntresses' name that my full life doth sway·.. ANGLE WILL Watching--Thomas continues beyond him. THOMAS O Juliet! these trees shall be my books, /And in their barks my thoughts I'll character/ That every eye which in this forest looks/ Shall see thy virtue witnessed everywhere··· WILL (interrupting) Thomas··· His voice cracks--he clears it. WILL (CONT'D) ·..favor this side of the pillar, if you please··· ANGLE THOMAS Doing so--and pausing. THOMAS Since we've stopped, may I say something..? ANGLE WILL (INTERCUT) WILL What is it..? THOMAS I think this scene is silly. The company reacts. WILL Why is that..?
28. THOMAS You have Romeo hanging poems on trees. He knows where Juliet is- why doesn't he simply find her and tell her he loves her..? Will's about to reply--before he can, Fennyman thunders from behind him. FENNYMAN Because Mr. Shakespeare's the brain of this enterprise and you're one bloody finger of one bloody hand. Now say the bloody words or I'll come up there and choke them from you, does that clarify it? THOMAS (a beat, to Will) Is that your wish..? WILL Please say the words.. THOMAS (a beat, continuing) Run, run, Romeo, carve on every tree/ The fair, the chaste, and unexpressive she. There's an awkward silence. Henslowe coughs loudly. Wabash looks up, steps forward. WABASH (stiffly) And how like you this shepherd's life, Master Captain.. ANGLE HENSLOWE AND WILL Henslowe whispers to his partner. HENSLOWE I suspect Mister Fennyman may be somewhat of a problem before this is over... ANGLE PEMBROKE'S MAN Someone from the Pembroke's, in the shadows at the back of the theater, watching the rehersal.
29. CUT TO INT BACKSTAGE WILL AND THOMAS DAY The day's gone on. Backstage, Thomas passes Will. Will looks away, nervously--then clears his throat again. WILL Thomas, a word. I wish you would not do that, question me in front of the company. I'm glad for any of your comments--you should make them to me in private··· THOMAS I'm sorry--you're right··· Will turns to go. THOMAS (CONT'D) And I wasn't being critical. It's that the scene fell so short of what it could be. WILL By what measure..? THOMAS Your own, your other plays, all of which I've seen, and applauded. I thought this might better the others in its loving--that's not my idea, it's yours, it was in the scene we did. The passion felt so real... WILL We're not doing real--we're doing whatever we have a week Friday. Lovers lost in the woods, Juliet disguised as a page, her father searching, captured by the Bandit Chief, Romeo rescuing her with the Captain, the Chief revealed as her brother, separated at birth, he marrying Juliet's sister, Romeo likewise Juliet, and the families reconciled in the end. A comedy.. THOMAS Conventional... WILL Yes... THOMAS Ordinary.
30. WILL Ordinary's what's wanted... THOMAS Have you ever hung poems on trees..? WILL What would you do...? THOMAS They see each other and find a bed WILL Like that... THOMAS It's what I'd want. Wouldn't you··? WILL It's somewhat less than noble... THOMAS It's real... WILL ...and I must hold off that event, however portrayed, to act three, better four, having five acts to fill--if they copulate in act one, we'll be left with a twenty-minute play, offending the audience and leaving it feeling under compensated. It's well actors consider their ports, I wouldn't discourage you for a moment, but it's something you'll understand with more experience under your belt... THOMAS "Ports"..? WILL What about them? THOMAS You said ports--"actors consider their ports..." WILL Their "parts"--consider "parts", and you should consider yours in terms of the overall design.·. He turns, self-satisfied--and bangs into a door jamb. He exits with as much dignity as he can.
31. INT BACKSTAGE ROOM WILL Hiding himself, reeling in panic. WILL "Ports?"--you actually said "ports?" Port is left, the side sinister, port is a wine, leading to drunkenness, port is a haven, a comfort. Port is a hole... He shudders. CUT TO INT ST. PAULS WILL AND HENSLOWE NIGHT Only a few of the reverent there this evening in the cavernous nave. Will walks down the center aisle, spots who he's seeking-- Henslowe, in a pew, his account books open on his lap. Will slides in beside him. WILL Peter said you'd be here..· HENSLOWE Fennyman's all over me, he criticizes how I make my entries- he hates my threes. Do they let you defecate alone..? Will nods. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Not me. WILL Phillip... HENSLOWE Yes, Will. WILL It's Thomas. HENSLOWE He's fine--better than I thought... WILL Phillip, I've contracted... (tormented) An attraction. For him. HENSLOWE Spiritual? Magnetic?
32. WILL Erotic. Phillip, I love him. Only now does Henslowe see the look on his face. HENSLOWE You're fond of him. WILL More than that. HENSLOWE He reminds you of yourself, starting out. It's brotherly- you're confusing the emotions... WILL It's not brotherly. I have brothers--I don't want to kiss their neck where it joins their shoulder. I can't work, I can't sleep. I'm changeable, fumbling, full of tears, full of smiles, now like him, now hate him--all the symptoms... Henslowe tries to laugh it off. WILL (CONT'D) I want to penetrate him·.. HENSLOWE Where..? WILL I don't know... HENSLOWE That's one thing you'd want to get straight. Ho, ho... WILL Phillip... HENSLOWE I made a pun... WILL Phillip--it's serious··! HENSLOWE I don't usually... (sober) No, of course--you're right, it is... WILL It's a sin. I can burn in Hell···
33. HENSLOWE The part that troubles me most is the not-working part. Our world will end not with the flames of Armageddon but next Friday if we don't have the play, and you haven't finished an act··· Frustrated, Will stands and heads off. Henslowe calls after. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Go home and write. WILL (calling back) I can't--the play's no good... HENSLOWE Says who··? WILL Thomas--and he's right·.. Henslowe reacts. EXT STREET WILL TRACKING NIGHT Will, walking the city streets, alone in the crowd. WILL This is madness. Phillip's right- work. (shakes his head) But how can I? It's a boy... (considers) And if it is? Then you've lived thirty years of your life and never known who you really were. Will Shakespeare? Oh yes--minor playwright, liked boys. How history will remember you--wrote plays, yes, noted mainly for his pederasty... He stops short--he looks across a square. On its far side, a tavern frequented by nances, Elizabethan gays. At tables in front, a crowd, some modest, some florid, like any other. Several kiss and clip their lovers in the doorway, to the shock of passers-by.
34. WILL (CONT'D) Is that your future..? INT WHITEHALL DINING ROOM BELINDA AND NURSE NIGHT Belinda, a new Belinda, sitting among the court at a late dinner at crowded tables under torchlight. She's happy, laughing, excitedly whispering into her Nurse's ear as they eat, the Nurse grasping her wrists with joy at what she's being told. ANGLE WESSEX AND EDGAR Eating nearby. Wessex regards Belinda. WESSEX She smiles. She's happy... EDGAR She contemplates her future with you. WESSEX She has taken a lover. EDGAR (SHOCKED) No..! WESSEX Women are like amoebas--totally transparent. Observe her smile... (Edgar looks) A woman's smile is a language, a language limited to two or three simple propositions. That one tells me she's cuckholding me... EDGAR I'm sure you're mistaken, my Lord··· Wessex shoves Edgar's face down onto the table, almost into his food, and holds it there.
35. WESSEX We could discuss this like gentlemen, you and I, but I will cut through the colloquy, bypass the debate and conclude your sister is currently the bawd of some whoremaster. I want you to find out who he is, and unless you wish a flattened nose, you will nod assent.. Edgar nods. Wessex lets him up. People on either side have been staring--Wessex glares at them and they look away. He looks around the hall. WESSEX (CONT'D) The question is, who else knows··? EXT THAMESIDE WILL NIGHT Will weaves down the street alongside the river--he's had a few consoling beers. WILL You wanted to be prosperous, to sit with the great gentlemen of London. Pull up a stool, Will--tell us of your love life. Did he not shave today, and scrape your skin? Leave you, did he, for a stevedore..? (groaning) This cannot be. This is the end of who I am... And he flings himself over the bank into the river. ANGLE WILL MUDFLAT The tide's out--he's standing in mud, ankle-deep. WILL It can be. You love Thomas--and you must follow love. And therefore begin the rest of your life···
36. CUT TO INT WILL'S ROOM THE ROSE DAY Will's pacing nervously from the window to the door. Opening it, he can hear sounds of rehersal from the stage below. He shuts it, crosses to the table, sits, looks over his writing- stands, goes to the door again. Opening it again, he hears goodbys, the rehersal ending for the day. He moves to the window. ANGLE WINDOW Through it, the cast in the street, heading its various ways. Now Thomas appears--Will turns to leave, but pauses at the table. He kneels before the miniature portrait sitting on it -he murmurs a prayer of forgiveness and turns it on its face. He hurries out. EXT ROSE WILL AND THOMAS TRACKING Will emerges from the Rose, following Thomas. He catches up with him, falls in step. WILL Walk with you..? THOMAS Of course. Will's flustered--Thomas notices. THOMAS (CONT'D) You seem upset... WILL Pre-occupied. With a scene. Not this play--another one. I thought we might talk about it... Thomas nods. WILL (CONT'D) Not here--it's noisy... He looks around--he spots a grove of trees behind some buildings. INT GROVE WILL AND THOMAS As they enter the coolness of the grove. It's lovely--birds flutter. Will finds a spot under a tree.
37. THOMAS Tell me about it. WILL It's a love scene. Very complicated--a page wooing his master... THOMAS A man in love with another..? WILL Yes.. (a beat) It's a comedy... He waits for Thomas's reaction. THOMAS Challenging... WILL I can't have him do what a man might do with a woman, bully her into love or pretend indifference, praise his best friend to make him jealous--as a man, he knows all a man's tricks. I start with history -how Jupiter loved his cup bearer, young Ganymede, how Plato in the Symposium praises the love of young boys as the most noble. There I stick... THOMAS Perhaps we should play it out... WILL I the page, you the master. Thomas nods. Will swallows. WILL (CONT'D) We could try. (considers) He might begin, "Sir, my heart's thoughts might make you flee..." THOMAS "And who'd want to hear them, with you fleeing before they're spoken..." Does he take his hand..? WILL He probably should. He takes Thomas's--Thomas lets him.
38. WILL (CONT'D) He might say next, "Still, I fear my longings, once spoken, giving you offense..." THOMAS "All men search their lives for love--they only fear not finding it..." WILL You don't think he'd be insulted...? THOMAS You've given no insult yet. These are weak--give me something with force.·· WILL "Sir, our love's forbidden by every law of man and nature..." THOMAS Is he lover or lawyer? He offers objections before the master raises them. I'd reply, "Lovers make their own laws; across the world, men are uncovering entire new continents--lack you the courage to explore mine...?" Will's drawn closer to Thomas, face to face. His lips are dry. WILL Thomas... THOMAS Yes? WILL There is no play. It's you. I love you... Thomas looks scared--but also excited. THOMAS Do you? WILL Since that first kiss. It must disgust you, but pity me... Thomas tries to pull back--Will holds on. WILL (CONT'D) Don't stop me--this is very hard···
39. THOMAS You may not like what you find... WILL Like? I adore you more than anyone ever before. You're bold, you're witty, you're graceful, elegant, your leg, your hands--a cathedral of monks could spend their lives cataloguing your virtues... Thomas struggles, but Will's on a roll. WILL (CONT'D) I surrender myself to you--I sacrifice whoever I may be on the altar of who you are... Now Thomas breaks loose, escapes around a tree, but Will's faster--he catches him. WILL (CONT'D) And if you lead me down strange roads, so be it, I must be strange, and if it brings me pain, then sharpen the knives... He pins him against the trunk. WILL (CONT'D) .··and if I burn in Hell, then welcome flames and smoke and fire, because life is not as necessary as you are... And he presses his mouth against the boy. Thomas struggles at first, but now slowly melts--he kisses Will back. Breathless, Will steps back to regard him--but something's wrong. And there's something on his upper lip. He touches it--he comes away with Thomas's moustache on his fingers. Thomas wheels to flee--Will grabs his shoulder, gets a handful of hair. It's a wig. Will stands there, thunderstruck, while Thomas, with a sob, pulls off the wig and shakes out her blonde hair. Thomas is Belinda De Lesseps. Will takes a blundering step forward, trips over a root, and falls on his face. Belinda runs off through the trees. ANGLE WILL On his knees, holding the moustache, dazed.
40. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Thomas was a girl. He'd gone and cast a girl in our play. And he knew her, too--he'd seen her somewhere before. He asked himself where.·· Will racks his whirling brain--then remembers. WILL The palace... CUT TO INT WHITEHALL PALACE HALLWAY WILL AND GUARD DAY Will shadows a pair of ladies-in-waiting down a hallway. In the air, the sound of laughter and music, but Will's look is grim--he's on a mission. A YEOMAN guard lets the women pass but prevents him. WILL The chambers of the ladies in waiting..? YEOMAN (lowering his halberd) State your business. WILL I'm simply asking... He backs away. INT HALLWAY WILL Looking for a way past the guards. He hears the sound of yelling, water sloshing--he looks through a half-open doorway. It's a high-cielinged chamber, filled with lobster red friars soaking in tubs of hot water, splashing each other. On a near wall, their robes hang on pegs, one close enough so Will can reach it. INT ANOTHER HALLWAY WILL AND FRIARS Friar Will, hands in his sleeves, face hidden under the cowl, hurries along, glancing down a series of intersecting hallways so intently he doesn't notice the approach of more friars, four chanting neophytes, led by a superior. Passing Will, the superior cuffs him, spins him around and shoves him towards the end of the line. Will chants with the others--the superior leads his column through a doorway. Will follows, but after a beat, he re emerges.
41. ANGLE HALLWAY BELINDA AND NURSE Belinda, in a Court dress, walks down the hall on her Nurse's arm, her face red from crying. NURSE You see what comes from playing in costumes? I warned you when you began it would come to something like this. Hush--I can't stand it when you cry... From the side, a friar reaches out and grabs Belinda by the wrist. She beams when she sees who it is--but Will is hopping mad. BELINDA Will..! WILL You'll excuse me--I don't have your name, but then we've not been introduced... NURSE Is this him..? BELINDA Yes... NURSE Oh lord--she's Belinda De Lesseps, daughter of Lord and Lady Arundel; hurry·.. She hustles them down the hall. Belinda still beams--Will won't let go of her. BELINDA You remembered me··· WILL Yes, the one who knew my lines, and for whatever pleasure I gave you, you returned me viciousness, treachery and betrayal, you added me to History's great compendium of idiots, but put me aside--I'm nothing, I don't matter--I'm speaking of a company of actors... Belinda's too thrilled to stop him--the Nurse shoves them through a chamber door and shuts it, taking up a post outside it like a sentry.
42. NURSE She tests the limits of affection, make no mistake about it... Putting her ear to the door, she can hear Will's muffled yelling. INT BELINDA'S CHAMBER WILL AND BELINDA For that's where they are, her room in the ladies in waiting wing, modest but tasteful, glass doors to a balcony, a huge four-post bed in the center. Belinda's crying--Will's pacing, his habit thrown off. WILL ·.·the City seeking to shut us down, the Puritans looking for any excuse to destroy us, we forced to use men as women to at least avoid the charge of offending the fairer sex. And the actors--trusting me, many of them married, feeding families, innocent children, on whatever the doorbox brings... (pauses) What are you doing..? He's only half-noticed that she's begun to untie the laces of her dress. She lets it fall to the floor, steps from it, naked as Venus. BELINDA This is me. WILL What's so funny? BELINDA You're pointing. She's looking at his crotch. He blushes beet-red. INT HALLWAY NURSE Her ear against the door again. It's silent--the shouting inside has stopped. She nods, drags a chair over to the door and sits, relieved, fanning herself. CUT TO INT BELINDA'S CHAMBER SUNSET They're in bed. They've been making passionate love all day- now they make love as the sun sets.
43. INT BELINDA'S CHAMBER NIGHT They've been making love since sunset--now they make love as the moon rises over the rooftops. INT BELINDA'S CHAMBER NIGHT 77 A full moon floods into the room. The bedcovers half on the floor, the sheets in knots. In bed, Will shelters Belinda in his arms. He's worn out, still dazed at what he's fallen into. Belinda's still excited. BELINDA ···I'd see people in the street, selling butter and carrying water and rowing boats--and they were free; I thought to myself, who more free in London than a young boy? It wasn't hard, I only had to study my silly brother, and once out and saw I could, I went to the theater because I loved it and loved performing, and I was hired, I was tall enough and my voice deep enough for St. Paul's, and then you found me, wonder of wonders, the one man in the world I thought could love me··. (looks up at him) Am I going too fast? Tell me, and I'll pout and frown and make you woo... WILL No, don't stop...
44. BELINDA Because I am so different, yards from other girls, somebody tells me go one way, I'll crawl on my knees to go the other, and your plays moved me, all those lovers, and there I was, my wish come true, and curse my wish because I was with him, his Romeo, but what if he discovered me, I'd disgust him, he'd reject me, because many do, nobody knows me truly, I look on the men of Court and see five hundred, a thousand faces and not one who loves me for what I truly am; if you did, you give me something no other ever has, man, parent, or friend--no, my Nurse has, she's my best and only friend, but you must, because you came... WILL I love you· The words thrill her. BELINDA Say it again. WILL Belinda, I love you, Belinda De Lesseps. She starts to cry, softly. WILL (CONT'D) I'm sorry..· BELINDA No, I'm happy... He kisses the tears from her cheeks. WILL You taste like the ocean··· BELINDA Will. My Will... WILL I will... BELINDA And I know what love means to you- I've seen you struggling in your plays... WILL You know them all..?
45. BELINDA The love scenes, anyway--I've seen how, in the Twins, love was only pratfalls, then your Richard Crookback, he was a smiler, suave, but he loved only for evil, then Two Gentlemen, a great leap forward, best friends torn between the same girl and their love for each other, then Love's Labors Lost, another great leap, a king and four courtiers swearing off love for a year, but they can't do it, they break their vows and chase the girls from France--it's a clear progression... WILL I didn't think anyone noticed... BELINDA Now Romeo, and it can be your finest. You want to know all there is to love... WILL I do... BELINDA So do I... There's a knock on the door--it opens. Alarmed, Belinda snatches the covers, Will dives beneath and she smooths them down. FULLER ANGLE INCLUDING NURSE It's only the Nurse, entering with a tray with mugs of cocoa, sandwiches, and a bowl of fruit. NURSE Just myself... Will emerges as the Nurse sets the tray by the bed. NURSE (CONT'D) I thought it was time for nourishment. La, you look like dolls in a house, or pigs in swill. So soon you could lose your neck- his too; have you mentioned him..? BELINDA (a fierce look) No--and be quiet.
46. WILL Mentioned who..? BELINDA Nobody--she's a blabbermouth. Thank you--now go... The Nurse makes a face as she exits--Belinda makes a face back. CUT TO: INT BELINDA'S CHANBER NIGHT Cold rain pelts the windows. Belinda and Will sit close to the fire, wrapped in one blanket, the empty tray beside them. He kisses her breasts and she kisses his. WILL I could never do what you've done. I wouldn't have the nerve. BELINDA You think I'm brave? WILL Braver than me. BELINDA You came. You must be brave too... WILL And love must be courage. All love is risk--the father waking in the next room.... BELINDA The husband coming home... WILL The flowers thrown out, the poems tossed in the fire, the you offend mes and never touch me agains. Courage must be the soul of love... They regard each other.. BELINDA What happens tomorrow..? WILL Nothing that ever happened before...
47. BELINDA I mean with me. Do I come to the Rose..? He takes her face in his hands. WILL You are my Romeo... EXT WHITEHALL BALCONY DAWN After the rain, the first tinge of morning in the sky. There's a way for Will to leave unnoticed--her balcony, a convenient branch, a tree leading to the street. On the branch, Will kisses Belinda over the railing. They whisper their last goodbys--he starts down. BELINDA Wi11... WILL (climbing back up) Yes..? BELINDA I can't give you up... (She kisses him again) I must. Goodbye... She starts off. WILL Belinda... She hurries back, happy he called her, and kisses him again. WILL (CONT'D) Who is "him"..? BELINDA "Him" who..? WILL The Nurse's "him"... BELINDA It's not important··· WILL Can we be honest...? BELINDA (a beat) A man who wants to marry me... WILL Which man...
48. BELINDA Wessex of Chealth.·· Maybe it's co-incidence, maybe Will's reaction to the name, but his branch snaps and he'd fall if he wasn't hanging on. BELINDA (CONT'D) Are you all right..? WILL Yes..· She helps him get his footing. BELINDA I won't, ever. WILL You can't. He's a monster··. BELINDA Do you know him? WILL You must escape--I'll do anything to help you... BELINDA I said I won't marry him. He only wants me for my father's monopoly and my father only wants his money because my brother spent all we had on clothes and dinners for his stupid friends... WILL You could go somewhere--Virginia··. BELINDA And not be in the play...? WILL Hang the play--the play's not worth you. Does the Queen want this..? BELINDA She signed the settlement. But I'm a woman, I have my powers--they can't make me marry anyone I don't want to. I can always say no, let Elizabeth exile me to the furthest pole, I'll say it forever. She's always said no, and she rules an empire... Somebody clears their throat inside the room.
49. BELINDA (CONT'D) I'll be with you soon... She blows a kiss and exits--Will starts down. INT CHAMBER Belinda, entering, finds the Nurse waiting for her. NURSE Well--was it all you hoped..? Belinda starts tickling her--when the Nurse objects, she dances her around the room, their skirts flying. BELINDA More--it was he himself. And he wants me..! CUT TO EXT LONDON STREETS WILL AND WIDMERPOOL MORNING The streets are filling as the sun rises--Will walks in a fog, filled with the wonder of life, bumping into people, pushed off, not caring. HENSLOWE (V.O.) If Wessex caught him, he'd kill him, Will was thinking--his greatest desire was his greatest danger. He was no fighter--he was a playwright. What would Romeo do? Anything, face a sea of enemies. Could he do any less, for the soul of love.·? Will makes passes with an imaginary sword. HENSLOWE (V.O.) But Romeo was a boy, a fiction. Still, he came from Will--he was from his best side. And Romeo would die for love... Will feels inspired--he starts to sing out loud. From the side, Widmerpool falls in step with him. WIDMERPOOL Will, you're singing... WILL Am I? Good morning, Widmerpool--a beautiful morning...
50. WIDMERPOOL It is in fact, and the plans for the reunion proceed apace. A picnic in Banbury Fields--we'll each put in for a keg of ale, cater a modest meal from a tavern, play games, and afterwards buy us some girls.·. WILL One word, Oliver... WIDMERPOOL Yes, old friend... WILL Love. WIDMERPOOL Indeed. I'll let you know as things gel. It will be a day to remember... He claps Will on the shoulder and hurries off, leaving Will dreamy again. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Being nice to Widmerpool was a mistake. A little girl's voice replies--this is CECILY, Henslowe's twelve-year-old grandaughter. CICELY (V .O.) Why..? HENSLOWE (V.O.) You'll see later. So Will had Belinda, but she was a royal, a pawn in the game of court politics- she'd never have her way. On the other hand, Will was married.. CICELY (V.O.) He was..? HENSLOWE (V.O.) Anne, back in Stratford, with two children, a daughter your age, another, the survivor of twins. He never told her--she probably knew, having followed him--and she never told him she'd have to marry Wessex some day for her parents sake, so they were both lying to each other, as lovers lie, as lovers lie together, because to tell the truth would be an end to love...
51. CUT TO INT ROSE REHERSAL MORNING Thomas is on stage, Sam standing above him on the first balcony, reading a new scene off their sides. Will and Henslowe watch from the audience. ROMEO But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?/ O, it is my love/ O, that she knew she were!/ O, that I were a glove upon that hand,/ That I might touch that cheek! JULIET Ay me! ROMEO She speaks./ Speak again, bright angel. JULIET O Romeo, Romeo! wherefore art thou Romeo?/ Deny thy father and refuse thy name;/ or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love,/ And I'll no longer be a Capulet. ROMEO Shall I hear more, or shall I speak at this? JULIET 'Tis but a name that is my enemy./ What's in a name? That which we call a rose/ By any other name would smell as sweet. ANGLE WINGS The actors--the Hemmings brothers, Bashford, Wabash--watch. They nod--this is good stuff. Peter follows the text with his copy. ANGLE WILL Excited, whispering to Henslowe.
52. WILL He's bold. So is she--they have bravery in common. No poems on trees--the instant they see each other, love... BACK TO SHOT JULIET What man art thou that, thus bescreened in night,/ So stumbleth on my counsel? ROMEO My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself,/ Because it is an enemy to thee. JULIET Art thou not Romeo, and a Montague?/ How camest thou hither? The orchard walls are high and hard to climb,/ And this place death, if any of my kinsmen find thee here. ROMEO With love's light wings did I o'erperch these walls;/ For stony limits cannot hold love out,/ And what love can do, that dares love attempt. ANGLE WILL AND HENSLOWE Will whispering again. WILL I was scratching the surface before, Phillip--my heart wasn't in it. It is now--they deserve each other because the soul of love is courage, true love stands on the precipice, against family, city, the whole world. It takes courage to have sex, that's why they're so hated, because they put sex before everything else, family, city, the whole play's about it; perhaps they should have sex on stage... HENSLOWE Will..!
53. WILL It's what they're talking about, it's what we all need, like sunlight and water, it's what brings us together here, you, me, the audience, to see it, to be seen by sex, to feel it, smell it, to be excited, to get hard or wet... HENSLOWE No... Will backs off--it was an idea. ANGLE STAGE JULIET My bounty is as boundless as the sea,/ My love as deep; the more I give to thee,/ The more I have, for both are infinite./ I hear some noise within. Dear love, adieu. Peter calls Juliet's name from the wings. Sam turns to go. JULIET (CONT'D) Anon, good nurse. Sweet Montague, be true./ Stay but a little, I will come again. Sam exits. ANGLE WILL AND HENSLOWE Henslowe shocked by what Will's just told him. HENSLOWE John a nurse..? WILL Juliet's begining to speak--she needs a friend... HENSLOWE John hasn't played a dress part in twenty years... WILL He can do her the same as the Bandit Chief, fat, bawdy, the same voice, everything he's good at... HENSLOWE I liked the Bandit Chief...
54. WILL And it's not a wood anymore--it's Verona. They're not simply boy and girl--they're star-crossed, two families warring, the Montagues, the Capeletti. The Montague father's arranging a marriage... HENSLOWE More cast... WILL John and James can double the fathers. Plus the intended, Paris... HENSLOWE I've already put money down on the Bandit Chief's costume. These changes take time, Will--I'm very concerned about Mister Fennyman... Will shushes him, indicates the stage. ANGLE STAGE As Sam enters above again. JULIET Three words, dear Romeo, and good night indeed./ If that thy bent of love be honorable,/ Send me word tomorrow./ And all my fortunes at thy foot I'll lay/ And follow thee my lord throughout the world./ But if thou meanest not well, I do beseech thee-- NURSE (V.O.) Madam..! JULIET By and by I come.--/ To cease thy suit and leave me to my grief./ A thousand times good night! Sam exits. Thrilled, Thomas starts to leave--Sam appears above again. JULIET (CONT'D) Romeo! ROMEO My sweet?
55. JULIET At what o'clock tomorrow/ Shall I send to thee? ROMEO By the hour of nine. JULIET I will not fail. 'Tis twenty years till then./ I have forgot why I did call thee back. ROMEO Let me stand here till thou remember it. JULIET I shall forget, to have thee still stand there./ Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow/ That I shall say good night till it be morrow. Both exit. ANGLE WINGS ACTORS Silent for a beat--then they begin to applaud spontaneously. BASHFORD It's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen in my life. ANGLE WILL AND HENSLOWE Applauding as well. HENSLOWE It's still a comedy... WILL Still a comedy... HENSLOWE There are woods--they get lost.·· WILL They fall in with shepherds, there's a storm, the fairies save them--something like that. Henslowe nods--but he's still uneasy. CUT TO:
56. EXT WHITEHALL PALACE WALL DAY Will waits in a doorway across from the palace. A beat--a door in the wall opens and out comes Belinda, dressed as Thomas. Will hisses--she spots him, hurries to him. They kiss in the doorway. He takes her hand. BELINDA Where are we going? WILL My room. Modest, but we won't take up much space. BELINDA It's a beautiful day... WILL Also pleasant indoors.. BELINDA But we've the afternoon, money, and the whole city. Take my hand... She steps out into the sunlight and offers him her hand. Will looks edgily up and down at people passing. BELINDA (CONT'D) You're afraid. WILL Not really... BELINDA You care what people think... She offers it again. It's a dare. He takes it. EXT BANBURY FIELDS WILL AND BELINDA DAY Green fields outside the city walls, filled with men at their pleasures--archery, wrestling, bowling, bear-baiting. There's beggars, cardsharks, an open bazzar, music everywhere. Will and Belinda wander through it hand in hand, two young men on a stroll. Some look, some stare--Belinda doesn't care either way. Will looks ahead--and his face falls. ANGLE INCLUDING WIDMERPOOL The last person Will wants to see. Widmerpool's spotted them -he angles through the crowd and falls in step.
57. WIDMERPOOL Will--well met. The Stratfordianus is all set--this coming Sunday, the King's Head, no time yet, but I will inform... (looking at Belinda) Who's your handsome friend..? WILL None of your business--and I'm not coming.. WIDMERPOOL But you promised, the other night. Everyone else is doing so well- Nathan Field, finest printer in town, that wife of his, Jud Morgan, a fortune in real estate, humble me with my royal clientele, Abner Lang, his starch works can't keep up with the orders, he's sending his overage to Antwerp... WILL I'm glad to hear it... WIDMERPOOL ·..As I tell all those back home in my frequent letters. What an irony it is... (to Belinda) He, principus of our grammar class, who translated Horace so easily while the rest of us struggled with our ABCs, the only one of us... WILL Still a pauper. WIDMERPOOL In the arts. WILL Widmerpool, I never said I'd come, and I can't. WIDMERPOOL I'll let you know the time... Will takes Belinda and heads off. Widmerpool watches them go. EXT FIELDS WILL AND BELINDA DAY Strolling over the glorious fields together.
58. BELINDA When did you first know you were strange..? WILL Early. I was the one who stared at flowers. A line of poetry would make me shiver. You..? BELINDA When the girls did needlepoint and the boys went to fence and ride and I went with the boys. Fair to Elizabeth--they offered us what they did them, the languages, the physical arts, but only I took them... ANGLE ARCHERY BUTTS WILL AND BELINDA They stroll past a row of archers. WILL I see a bow, I think of my father. He tried to teach me... BELINDA Did he..? WILL I learned, but later, in the theater··· BELINDA Do you see him..? WILL Not for eight years. He's a glove-maker. I've two brothers- they work with him. I write to him -I tell him I'm well, thriving, happy. I lie. Your parents..? BELINDA My father thinks I should hold myself blessed for his finding me so worthy a gentleman as Wessex. He calls me proud, baggage, a headstrong puling fool--he says if I don't walk to Westminster on my wedding day, he'll drag me in a cart, do what he says or hang, beg, starve, die in the street, he'll shut his door on me. WILL Your mother..?
59. BELINDA She doesn't disagree. WILL You must get away... BELINDA No, I don't. WILL I can't stand thinking what could happen... She puts a finger to his lips. BELINDA I forbid you ever to talk of this again. Don't you see? I do what I want, and so am happy... EXT HILLSIDE WILL AND BELINDA DAY Stretched out, lying on his cape, he beside her, both naked, on an oak-dotted hill overlooking the fields. They're in waist-high grass, laced with wildflowers--they've beaten a plot of it down to form a green room for their privacy. Will plays with a sprig of flowers. WILL Cowslips... He gives them to her. BELINDA Sunflowers--and eating the seeds... WILL Animal..? BELINDA Rabbits... WILL Deer. I hunted them--I could never kill one... BELINDA Smell...? WILL Your body, with love on it... BELINDA The poop of a baby. (on his look) I only said that. Your hair, just at the crown. Worst fear...
60. WILL Failure. BELINDA Confinement. Worst fault... WILL Selfishness. BELINDA Loneliness... WILL Music..? BELINDA A choir in a country church..· WILL So's mine. And I can hear one any time... He leans over and kisses her long. She smiles, loops her arms around him. BELINDA Would you have still loved me if I were a boy..? WILL Difficult to answer.. (he considers) I would have had to... BELINDA You prefer I'm a girl... He rolls on top of her. WILL Only because it allows us to make love face to face... They kiss again--her eyes twinkle. BELINDA If I were a boy, you'd have a harder time of it... WILL Not necessarily... BELINDA You don't know me if you think I'm weak... WILL Not weak--frail.
61. BELINDA Nor frail--I could match you... WILL I think you capable of anything, but here, for the first time, I doubt you... She gets her knees under him and in one quick move flips him on his back, upside down. Will's dazed. WILL (CONT'D) Where'd you learn that..? BELINDA I told you--they taught us. Are you hurt..? She's concerned, bends over him. Will's shamming--he grabs her and flings her over. They separate, and grinning, throw themselves at each other, wrestling Greco-Roman style, tumbling over and over in the tall grass, growling and snarling, until Will manages to pin her. BELINDA (CONT'D) What do I forfeit..? WILL Thoughts of any other man··· He bends over her, kissing her neck and chest. WILL (CONT'D) My favorite part of you..? BELINDA What··? WILL The top of your chest, when you blush, and the red travels from your cheeks the length of your neck and spreads across your breasts··· BELINDA We'll go home like two chums, with grass stains on our clothes.·. WILL Like two friends... BELINDA We are, I think... WILL Love without friendship is lust...
62. BELINDA And so Romeo and Juliet must be friends··. WILL Because they want love--not lust alone... BELINDA And they're strange, because they want it in a world that only wants to hate... Will regards her. He can use that. CUT TO INT SOUTHWARK TAVERN WILL AND COMPANY NIGHT Will sitting with Henslowe and the actors at their ease in a tavern--but he's not with them. He looks into the distance- he's seeing Belinda. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Will felt the joy of strangers finding each other. He wasn't sure what he had fallen into--he felt as if parts of him were breaking off and falling away, like ice off an arctic floe. In that mood, he returned to a place he'd once been··· INT GAY TAVERN The one Will saw earlier. He tentatively enters, picking his way through the crowd up to the serving table. The TAPSTER is a large man in heavy makeup, his hair dyed scarlet--Will motions him over, whispers to him, counts out some money. The tapster pounds on the table with a mug, waits for quiet. TAPSTER This gentleman, of unusual generosity, has bought a round for everyone in the house... The crowd shouts its approval and crowds the table to fill their mugs. Men all around Will thank him, slap his back for his good fellowship. TAPSTER (CONT'D) What should we be drinking to..? The crowd waits for Will's answer. He raises his mug.
63. WILL To the soul of love--which at its very pith and secret core, is friendship... The whole house drinks to friendship. CUT TO EXT REAR OF THE THE ROSE BELINDA DAY Belinda's in a farthingale, bewigged and pretty, holding a fan--she's motioning to somebody inside the door at the rear of the theater. WILL (V.O.) No... BELINDA You look lovely... WILL (V.O.) I hate this--we all did... She motions, insisting. After a beat, Will emerges into daylight. He's also wearing a dress, a wig, a fan--a complete woman's costume. WILL We couldn't wait to graduate to male parts... But he's outside. Belinda puts her arm through his. BELINDA This will be good for Juliet... WILL Juliet's fine as she is... BELINDA She can be better... Will's not happy, but he sets out alongside her, two women on a stroll, one of them tottering on high heels.
64. WILL And how I hate these. How do you balance with these great swinging pendula··? He means his breasts--Belinda laughs. Will sees someone coming, groans out loud. Belinda looks--it's Widmerpool again. She knows what to do--they turn down a side street and out of sight. ANGLE WIPMERPOOL Widmerpool looks down the side street, sure he just saw Will Shakespeare in a dress. On the chance it was, he calls out. WIDMERPOOL Will, if it was you, it's set for nine a.m.··· INT WOMAN'S CHAMBER WHITEHALL PALACE GROUP DAY Where Belinda's taken Will, to the palace, and a group of WOMEN. He sits demurely on a chair, Belinda beside him, struggling to remember his women's moves and not give himself away, holding a plate of sweets in a pleasant chamber among a circle of six women of various ages. They're discussing a question Belinda has posed. WOMAN ONE A stiff one on a cold winter's night... The women all smile--Will does as well. WOMAN TWO A requirement, certainly, without which nothing else follows··. WOMAN THREE That they do what their sex dictates, and leave us do what ours does us... WOMAN FOUR Which is to say, give us our liberty... WOMAN FIVE Why do you ask, Belinda..? BELINDA It came up in a conversation, my cousin and I... She indicates Will--Will smiles coquettishly.
65. BELINDA (CONT'D) ···with two gentlemen, and since we could not find a definitive answer, we went out to seek other opinions... ANGLE ROOM INCLUDING ELIZABETH Will nearly drops his plate--the Queen herself has just entered. He and the ladies rise to curtsy, but Elizabeth waves them down, sits. ELIZABETH What is the topic? WOMAN FIVE Belinda raised it--what is it that women most want from a man···? The Queen glances at the plate of sweets. Will gets the idea -he passes it over. Elizabeth regards him, shaking her head at this poor thing's large hands. ELIZABETH That's simple--that he be tender when he should be, strong when the occasion calls, that he look well at other women but make no move towards them, that he be patient and kind, encourage that in his wife, and that when troubles come, be like a rock in the ocean, battered and wet and cold, but does not crumble... The ladies nod--that's it exactly. The Queen turns back to Will, hands him one of her sweets. ELIZABETH (CONT'D) You should eat more of these--you lack color... EXT PALACE GARDENS WESSEX AND EDGAR DAY Strolling together through the formal garden, Edgar smelling the roses ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA They're leaving the palace, entering the garden. Will's mind is racing.
66. WILL So that's what Juliet wants, her liberty, to make her own choice of man... BELINDA Yes, but more than that... WILL Romeo's total attention, his absolute consideration ... BELINDA Even more... They look up and see the two men. Will bristles at the sight of Wessex. WILL Him. He makes my blood boil··· BELINDA This way--we'll avoid him·.· She raises her skirts and leads Will to the side. ANGLE GROUP But Wessex and Edgar have spotted them. They turn down a path and cut them off. WESSEX Belinda, good morning, how lovely you appear... BELINDA I'm plain--we both know it... WESSEX You don't even begrudge me flattery... She tries to go--Wessex grabs her wrist. WESSEX (CONT'D) I'm not done. I spoke your father- ! told him October was too long a wait, that I was beside myself to taste the joys of our married state, and he agreed September was preferable... BELINDA Why hurry? You don't love me···
67. WESSEX No--we marry for profit. Love is surrender--why would I ever do that, without a knife at my throat..? She pulls away but he won't let go. WESSEX (CONT'D) Like the mare, Belinda, you will be broken. I've purchased a ring of engagement--I'm having it sent over, a large diamond I think will impress even you... Will can't stand it--he whacks Wessex on the wrist with his fan. WILL Let go of her, churl... WESSEX Who is this..? BELINDA My cousin... WILL Wilhelmina, and I won't stand by while you abuse her. You are a brute, sir--your manners indicate your place of birth, which most certainly was lined with hay and smeared with dung... Wessex looks Will over, gets an idea. He takes Will by the elbow and leads him to the side. Edgar shakes his head. EDGAR My word, I don't remember such a cousin..· ANGLE WILL AND WESSEX Wessex pulling Will into whispering distance. WESSEX Wilhemina, tell me--have you seen Belinda of late with any strange men..? WILL I'm sure all men seem strange to you, not being in your exact image...
68. WESSEX You evade. WILL My lord, if she were seeing a man- if she was head over heels passionate, if they were sweating buckets day and night, if their skin was so hot it peeled off in sheets, if their abandon destroyed beds, shattered windows and brought down entire neighborhoods--! would not tell you.·. He blips Wessex on the nose with his fan, and rejoins Belinda, taking her arm. Wessex watches them go. EXT GARDEN LOGGIA WESSEX AND EDGAR TRACKING Wessex storms down the loggia bordering the garden with Edgar. Here and there, men of the court stand in conversation. WESSEX She knows--everyone in the world must, except me, being dependent on you... ANGLE TWO MEN OF COURT As Wessex and Edgar approach them, MAN ONE's telling the other about an encounter he had with a girl. MAN ONE I spoke her not once but twice. Imagine that--two times..! He holds two fingers for emphasis--the first and the pinky. Seeing this, Wessex explodes--he turns on the man, going for his throat. WESSEX What did you call me..? MAN ONE Upon my honor, nothing, my lord... WESSEX Cornuto--the sign of the horns. You see--he calls me cuckhold..! Edgar pulls Wessex off.
69. EDGAR My lord, I think he was signifying a quantity... He calms Wessex down, leads him away. ANGLE TWO OTHER MEN OF COURT Further down the loggia, two more men. MAN TWO has a bit of food between his front teeth--he tries to loosen it with his finger and thumb. MAN TWO I believe I may have it, finally... Wessex sees him. That's it--he wheels on the man, his sword flashing as he draws it. WESSEX He gives me the sign of the fig. Thieves steal figs from my garden...! He thrusts, piercing the man's cape, inches from his side. WESSEX (CONT'D) You see--they all know. They mock me··! Edgar again pulls Wessex off, leaving Man Two trembling. Wessex stops at a window, catches his breath as he checks his reflection. WESSEX (CONT'D) It's all metaphor. How I hate poetry.. EXT/INT WILL'S ROOM WILL AND BELINDA DAY Hoisting their skirts as they climb the stairs to Will's room. WILL Somebody should put an end to that man... BELINDA But we can't--we're women. It's their world--their genitals prove it... On the landing, Will suddenly turns to Belinda--he's got it. WILL Protection.
70. BELINDA (delighted) Yes... He sweeps her up and carries her into the room. WILL What all women want, Juliet from Romeo--her father, the one she'll marry, all the men in her life are dangerous, she wants a man of her own to protect her from the others, why she wants Romeo, why she'd throw herself at him... He lays her down down on the bed and embraces her. WILL (CONT'D) Grab him, hold him, claim him... BELINDA Yes... Will kisses her--he's so happy. WILL You are beautiful... She smiles, shakes her head, self-consciously. WILL (CONT'D) You're a muse, descended from heaven, bearing inspiration... BELINDA I'm different. WILL You're beautiful... BELINDA I have a mirror. I'm unusual..· WILL You are beautiful. She accepts it. Will goes to take off an earring. She stops his hand. WILL (CONT'D) You like me in silks·.· She smiles, her eyes sparkling, and rolls on top of him.
71. CUT TO INT WILL'S ROOM WILL DAY Later in the day--Belinda has gone. Shirt open, hair touseled, bursting with inspiration, Will writes, his quill racing. HENSLOWE (V.O.) The pages flew. Someone, a muse, Belinda, a mixture of Will and Belinda in his head--was dictating lines, and he strove to write them down... INT WILL'S ROOM WILL AND PETER NIGHT Evening--a knock on the door. Peter sticks his head in--Will hands him a stack of pages. Peter takes them and exits. INT TAVERN NIGHT PETER In a quiet corner, he copies Will's draft onto sides for the actors, making notes on a long sheet of cardboard, the start of the backstage plot board. EXT ROOF OF WILL'S ROOM WILL NIGHT Taking a break, Will's climbed out his skylight onto the rooftop. Holding pen and paper, he looks over the moonlit city. HENSLOWE (V.O.) He was obsessed with her--he saw her everywhere, and in her absence, he was drawn to things, that being beautiful, were her allies--the lights of the houses, the night wind, the pale and lambent moon··· INT WHITEHALL PALACE BELINDA'S CHAMBER BELINDA NIGHT Alone, dreamy-eyed, she sits before a vanity mirror staring at herself. Around her, creams and paints in unused jars. HENSLOWE (V.O.) And Belinda? She thought only of him...
72. BELINDA Me beautiful? That's Cupid speaking--and he's blind. But what if I am? Could I be..? She impulsively opens a jar, takes a dab of cream and spreads it on her cheek. INT PALACE COURTROOM BELINDA AND NURSE DAY Crowded with the pearls of the realm. Belinda makes an entrance, on her Nurse's arm--she's as stunning as she can make herself. With the Nurse smiling smugly, they pass through the crowd. Murmuring, reacting, it spreads for her- they've never seen Belinda De Lesseps this radiant before. Wessex, to one side, glowers--this only makes him more convinced she's with somebody. The two sisters see her and grumble. Edgar, sitting with his parents, sees her--his mother begs him to do something, his father pokes him sharply in the shoulder. HENSLOWE (V.O.) But troubles were brewing. Troubles you could predict... INT WIDMERPOOL'S TAILOR SHOP WIDMERPOOL DAY At a table, composing a letter, while around him, his staff works late, fitting the latest gaudy court wear on dummies. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Troublers you couldn't. WIDMERPOOL (to himself) To John Shakespeare. Dear Master Shakespeare. Dear John.·· He likes that--he begins the letter. WIDMERPOOL (CONT'D) As an ancient friend of you and your family, and great friend and admirer of your son William, it is with a heavy heart I write to tell you what a terrible thing has become of him...
73. CUT TO INT THE CURTAIN THEATER ROWLEY, WIFE, AND BRAVOS DAY The theater where Lord Pembroke's men play. Clearly the home of the most successful company--its decorations and size make the Rose look second-rate. The company prepares for the afternoon show--Richard Rowley's WIFE, a comely woman, is passing back stage. She stops at the sight of her husband in deep conversation with three husky ACTORS. Spotting his wife, Rowley glares at her--he won't continue until she passes on. INT ROSE STAGE DAY Busy, like the Curtain--the company works up a new scene. The others watch Sam and John, playing the Nurse, on stage. NURSE Lord how my head aches! What a head have I!/ It beats as it would fall in twenty pieces./ My back at'other side--ah, my back, my back!/ Beshrew your heart for sending me about/ To catch my death with jauncing up and down! JULIET !'faith, I am sorry that thou art not well./ Sweet, sweet, sweet nurse, tell me, what says my love? NURSE Your love says, like an honest gentleman, and a courteous, and a kind, and a handsome, and I warrant, a virtuous--Where is your mother? JULIET Where is my mother? Why, she is within. How oddly thou repliest!/ 'Your love says, like an honest gentleman,/ "Where is your mother?"' NURSE O God's Lady dear!/ Are you so hot? Is this the poultice for my aching bones?/ Henceforward do your messages yourself. John is a great Nurse--the company's enjoying it, but one by one, their smiles fade as they turn, and see, standing at the theater's rear, the three Pembroke actors, their arms folded, clearly there to make trouble.
74. EXT LONDON STREETS WILL AND HENSLOWE TRACKING DAY They're walking together, Henslowe clearly upset. HENSLOWE (V.O.) And great troubles of my own... HENSLOWE He's in my lap all twenty-four hours, he's in my house, he tells my children I'm naughty. He thinks I'm trying to cheat him··· WILL Are you? HENSLOWE Of course I am--how else will I ever see a penny out of this? You knew I'd cheat you..· He pauses as the three Pembroke actors pass, their work, whatever it was, done. They don't register at first. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) ···You also knew I'd leave enough to make you happy. You must help me, Will--Fennyman's everywhere; we must kill him before I go insane··· (they register now) Did you see them...? WILL Who..? HENSLOWE Those three. They're Pembroke's- from the direction of... He looks in the direction of the Rose. A plume of smoke rises over the rooftops. Henslowe lets out a groan, starts to run, Will following. INT ROSE THE COMPANY They turn as Will and Henslowe hurry in. There's been a fire-- it's blackened one gallery side but it's almost out; Peter, Wabash and Bashford douse the last flames with water buckets. On stage, Thomas (Belinda) is looking at a torn sleeve, John has a bloody nose and blood on his dress, James holds a hurt hand--only Sam stands aloof. HENSLOWE (agonized) My theater--my poor Rose...
75. BASHFORD Worse than it looks. A little paint, judiciously applied... HENSLOWE The Pembrokes..? All nod. Will's gone up on stage to Thomas. WILL Did you fight..? JAMES (indicating Sam) Except him... SAM I'm paid to act, not bodyguard... JOHN We were outnumbered--there were eight in total··· HENSLOWE We passed three in the street... JOHN Each fought with the strength of three... JAMES They had a message. From Rowley... PETER He'd heard you'd risen from the gutter to put up a play. He warns you it will be bad for your health, and ours·.. FULLER ANGLE FENNYMAN LAMBERT AND FREES Henslowe shudders as Fennyman, his henchmen in tow, storms in from backstage. Fennyman takes in the scene. FENNYMAN What's all this..? HENSLOWE Nothing--a bit of vigorous competition··· FENNYMAN Who did this--who dared..? PETER The Pembrokes.
76. FENNYMAN I hate them. Where do they live..? He turns to go--Henslowe gets in his way. HENSLOWE Mister Fennyman, please--you're unfamiliar, they're the most powerful company in town, favored by the court, this is normal, ordinary business, cut and thrust, the thing is to not be emotional, to turn the other cheek... During this, Fennyman has motioned to Frees--Frees claps his hand across Henslowe's mouth, which Henslowe accepts. JAMES He's right... JOHN They're tough... Fennyman turns to Wabash--it may be the first time he's noticed him. FENNYMAN What did you do? WABASH I don't have a part··· FENNYMAN (to Thomas) You..? THOMAS (with a glance at Will) I say we have the same right to perform as anyone else. But I defer to the group... FENNYMAN You, poet..? Will regards the damage. WILL I say we're a company, recently born, now in its adolescence··· Henslowe gets Will's drift--he tears Frees' hand off. HENSLOWE Will, don't do this. Bethink yourself; you're a sharer--you're management·..
77. WILL ...and if we lie down to this and not respond, we will never grow up... FENNYMAN At least one of you with balls. Who joins us..? Thomas steps forward. The company eye each other. John holds James back, but James breaks free. When John follows, James tries to bat him away. Bashford steps up, then Peter, Wabash-- only Sam holds back. SAM I'll protect against further vandalism... That's it--with Will and Fennyman leading, they head off. Henslowe chases after. HENSLOWE Will--John--Peter, think of my future... EXT STREET THE COMPANY TRACKING Determined, they push through the street crowd, Will, Fennyman, Frees and Lambert in the lead. FENNYMAN Mister Lambert, name something appropriate... LAMBERT An apiary. FENNYMAN Just the thing--fetch me an apiary... Lambert peels off to do it. Henslowe's raced ahead of them, now cuts them off. HENSLOWE Believe me, this is commerce, nothing more--I've been through it before, to retaliate will make things worse. I'll speak to them- perhaps a small contribution to their welfare: I'll point out how small we are, unassuming, how we'd never conceive taking away a single one of their customers··· Frees shoves him backward into a vegetable stand.
78. FENNYMAN Cutpursing to crooking to money lending--as I've climbed the ladder, I've held to one principle and that is: smash. A man insults me, smash him, he strikes me, smash his house, he hurts my house, beware his aged parents. I am not one of your tit for-tat niceties; smashing's got me where I am... EXT STREET AND THE CURTAIN They turn a corner--the round walls of the Curtain loom at the intersection. Lambert is waiting--he's brought a heavy leather sling and, at the end of a stick, an apiary--a buzzing beehive. He helps Fennyman fit the beehive into the sling. Henslowe grabs Will. HENSLOWE This all comes from your diddling Rowley's wife··· WILL It comes from having a good play... HENSLOWE Is it? You haven't said anything··. Will steals a glance at Thomas.
79. WILL It may be... Henslowe lets go--instant mood change. Ready, Fennyman looks at the company. It nods its approval. He begins to whirl the beehive, whirling himself around, faster and faster, until it's a blur, and then, while everyone goes ooooh, he launches it. The beehive sails into the sky, up over the theater wall and out of sight. INT CURTAIN THEATER Halfway through the afternoon's performance, the pit shoulder to shoulder, gallerys jammed, the demi-monde of London. Rowley's performing a comic scene, the house in the palm of his hand, when the beehive smashes to pieces center stage. The actors around him stop. The house goes silent. There's a buzzing sound. EXT THE CURTAIN A beat--and then the house explodes, the crowd racing out of the theater past Fennyman and the company. INT CURTAIN STAGE The actors fleeing the furious bees. EXT CURTAIN COMPANY Roaring at the sight of whores trampling lords, pickpockets flattening apprentices in their exit. EXT REAR THEATER DOOR As the Pembrokes escape out the backstage door. Fennyman's there, with Will, Lambert, Frees, Peter. As each of the actors that trashed the Rose appears, Peter fingers them- Lambert or Frees clobbers them. INT THEATER ROWLEY'S WIFE Watching from a safe place, a smile behind her hand.
80. CUT TO EXT LONDON STREETS THE COMPANY DAY Returning happily from their triumph--revenge has welded them together. Will's out front with Fennyman. FENNYMAN That's what your play needs--blood, a little violence. All this limp talk of romance, eyes as conduits, swains swooning for love all because she opened her legs and he'd the presense of mind to do something with his John Bull besides be-piss his leg with it. Dan Cupid, tiny arrows, sighs and suicides--it makes me sick... EXT STREET CORNER MAKEPEACE ABSOLUTION The self-apppointed Puritan censor, making another street corner speech. MAKEPEACE There are no plays in the Bible. And wherefore do we need plays at all? Wastes of honest time, of hardsweated money, we'd have none were it not that she likes them, you know my meaning, she there, revelling in Whitehall, our great ancient virgin·.. A fist comes out of nowhere and puts him in orbit. It belongs to Fennyman, who keeps going. FENNYMAN Idiot--what do you know about it? INT TAVERN Where Fennyman's taken Will for a post-fight drink. He's still on a roll.
81. FENNYMAN What's love--sixty seconds in the hay and a lifetime sentence, a brain fried in the sun, deception, selfdeception, the rank opposite of shitting, an honest bodily task that at least disposes of garbage instead of acquiring more of it... He stops to wipe his mouth. FENNYMAN (CONT'D) Do I insult you..? Will's been looking on with wonderment. WILL No, not at all... (tentatively) In fact, would you like a part··? CUT TO INT STAGE THE ROSE DAY The company looks on amazed as Fennyman prowls the stage, reading off sides, bumping other actors out of his way as he declaims the part of Mercutio. FENNYMAN Romeo! humors! madman! passion! lover!/ Speak but one rhyme and I am satisfied. Cry but 'Ay me!', pronounce but 'love' and 'dove'. Why, is not this not better? Now thou art sociable, now art thou who thou art. For this drivelling love is like some great imbecile that runs lolling up and down to hide his member in a hole... ANGLE THE WINGS WILL AND HENSLOWE Watching as Fennyman launches into his Queen Mab speech. Will's pleased--Henslowe is aghast. WILL He'll be so busy with lines and costumes, he'll be out of your hair. Besides, the play needs a cynic--it makes Romeo's love stand prouder. Who better than Romeo's best friend? James is a friar now, by the way···
82. HENSLOWE Not a sea captain..? WILL Mercutio's killed by Juliet's cousin--Tibaldo, I think--therefore Romeo must avenge him, therefore he's torn between love and honor, his two great passions, either one of which can undo him... Will turns and Henslowe follows him back stage, through increased activity--a COSTUMER is fitting the Hemmings brothers, MUSICIANS decide with Peter where their music will go. HENSLOWE We have no Tibaldo··· Will stops before Wabash, standing befuddled as usual. Wabash points at himself--me? Will nods, carries on. WILL And the marriage must be in the middle. The soul of love is protection... HENSLOWE You told me it was courage··. WILL It is--then friendship. Love has layers, Phillip. It's like diving into the ocean--first beautiful fish, then deeper, pearls inside oysters, and even deeper, jewels from the wrecks of treasure ships- and what's deepest about love happens after marriage, not before, so it belongs in the middle. Fennyman's right--I keep smashing the play; whenever I do, it gets better... HENSLOWE This is not like you, Will... WILL No, probably not. HENSLOWE You can't keep changing everything. There are certain rules--the audience expects them. And what's the third act..? WILL I don't know yet...
83. HENSLOWE Then find one. Steal one--steal from yourself. It is still a comedy·.· Will nods. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Simple, inoffensive... WILL You should be happy, Phillip··· HENSLOWE You're smiling. That's what's different about you--you're speaking continually through a smile, it alters the tone of your voice... (realizing) Will, you're in love... Will stops, takes him by the shoulders. WILL I am, Phillip. Envy me. She is the one··. He kisses Henslowe full on the cheek. WILL (CONT'D) And she's giving me the play... He bucks him up, heads off. Henslowe calls after. HENSLOWE You might ask her for the third act...
84. CUT TO INT WILL'S ROOM DAY Empty. The skylight swung open--daylight streams hrough. EXT ROSE ROOFTOP WILL AND BELINDA Stretched out naked on the thatch, side by side, visible to anyone who'd care to look. EXT CEMETERY DAY An overgrown graveyard outside the city. Belinda lies on a tomb, her arms crossed, while Will bends over and kisses her. It resurrects her--she sits and opens her eyes, like a sleeping princess. BELINDA I rise... HENSLOWE (V.O.) They made love on rooftops, in cemeteries, always searching for the path to the very soul of love... INT SMALL SPACE WILL AND BELINDA DAY They're kissing passionately in a cramped dark space lit only by a tiny window. They part--Will smiles, opens a door, and exits. INT ST. PAUL'S CATHEDRAL For that's where they've been, inside one of the confessionals to one side of the nave. As Will crosses towards a distant pew, he passes near a woman PARISHONER, who smiles approvingly at the devotion of this nice young man. ANOTHER ANGLE Now the confessional door opens and Belinda emerges. As she passes the parishoner, the woman's jaw drops. ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA
85. He sits in the middle of the transept, under the vaulted dome high overhead. Light slants in through the huge stained-glass windows--the choir sings. Will lifts his arm and Belinda slides under it. He looks up at the light. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Each time they thought they could not go deeper, they went deeper. They felt they were close to bottom that soon, they'd touch. Will thought at the very bottom might be Heaven. Like all of us, he'd spent his life wondering if there was one... CICELY (V.O.) Is there..? HENSLOWE (V.O.) Nobody knows for sure, but for Will it didn't matter, because he'd already seen it, with her... She holds him closer. HENSLOWE (V.O.) And Belinda? She was feeling the first glow in her belly that told her she was carrying his child··· CUT TO EXT CITY SQUARE THE STRATFORDIANS MORNING At a table outside a tavern, the renuion party, holding heraldic banners and bunting labeled "Stratford"--Widmerpool, NED FIELD, on his first ale of a long day, JUDSON MORGAN and ABNER LANG, his arms around a big bass drum. Widmerpool thrums his fingers, looks up at the church clock tower across the street. It's striking 9:15. INT WILL'S ROOM THE ROSE WILL AND BELINDA The room sunny, they warm in each others arms, sleepy from a night where sleep was the last thing on their minds.
86. HENSLOWE (V.O.) They thought they were invincible- lovers, in my experience, often do. But they were not··· EXT TAVERN STRATFORDIANS The group's getting antsy. Widmerpool stands. WIDMERPOOL I should fetch him... LANG He said he wouldn't come... MORGAN We should be off--we're losing our day··· Widmerpool takes his seat again. WIDMERPOOL All right--give him ten more minutes·.· He makes room for two men squeezing past who take a table next to them. It's Edgar and his manservant, DEADBOLT. Widmerpool glances them up and down. INT WILL'S ROOM WILL AND BELINDA Savoring the quiet morning. WILL I would be locked inside you. Permanently stitched, so we were four-armed and four-legged··· BELINDA Awkward. We'd scare children... WILL Awkward at first, but we'd grow used to it, and over time we'd fuse and become one together, one sweet egg, white and yolk··· She giggles. EXT TAVERN WIDMERPOOL AND EDGAR Edgar's aware that Widmerpool is staring at him.
87. WIDMERPOOL Sir Edgar De Lesseps, is it not..? (pinching his sleeve) Very fine, Mantuan--but I daresay whatever you paid, I could do better. Widmerpool, Oliver--I'm in Threadneedle Stret··· ( (noticing) Oh, my, that ring.·· He's spotted a signet ring, the letter A, on Edgar's hand. WIDMERPOOL (CONT'D) Very fashionable these days··· EDGAR Not fashionable at all. A for Arundel--that's my family··· WIDMERPOOL I've seen it twice in recent days, on either occasion on the hand of one in the company of my good friend the celebrated poet William Shakespeare--first a boy, then a girl. Both, as a matter of fact, looked like you··· EDGAR A girl..? He looks over at Deadbolt, his expression asking, "do you think?...". Deadbolt's response is, "could be..." EDGAR (CONT'D) Where is this Shakespeare···? WIDMERPOOL Not far. He attends our Stratfordiania--in fact, I was about to get him. Would you walk with us..? Edgar and Deadbolt would. Widmerpool's delighted--he gathers up the others and they set off. CUT TO: INT WILL'S ROOM WILL AND BELINDA MORNING Their drowsy stillness broken by someone calling Will's name from the street. Will gets up, peers through the curtains. His face falls. WILL It's that pest Widmerpool. If we're quiet, he'll go away..·
88. EXT STREET GROUP In the street outside, waving their Stratford banners. Widmerpool keeps calling up to the window, but there's no response. WIDMERPOOL He must be there... Deadbolt hisses to Edgar, pointing out that with a barrel and a foothold on the wall, they can climb easily to Will's roof. Edgar follows him. ANGLE WALL As Edgar follows Deadbolt up the wall onto the roof. EDGAR If she is here with the poet, Deadbolt, think of Wessex's debt to me... INT ROSE THEATER STRATFORDIANS Undaunted, Widmerpool leads the others up the stairs to the landing outside Will's room. INT WILL'S ROOM Will can hear them coming. Exasperated, he hides Belinda away in a tall wardrobe, wraps himself in a sheet and strides to the door, flinging it open. Before he can speak, Abner Lang booms his bass drum and they march inside, singing the Stratford fight song Widmerpool's written for the occasion. Will can't block them--they flood the room, each greeting him profusely, spreading out for their own personal inspection of a famous writer's workplace. EXT ROOF EDGAR AND DEADBOLT The singing and booming rising through the thatch as Edgar creeps towards the skylight.
89. EDGAR No longer Edgar the dolt, Edgar the know-nothing, the supernumerary. It shall be Edgar the bold, Edgar the wise, Edgar the extremely competent... He peers in, trying to see. INT ROOM Somebody has opened the wardrobe--Belinda's revealed, covering herself with her hands. The Stratfordians make much of that, ignore Will's shouts that they leave. He throws a cape over Belinda. ANGLE EDGAR Believing he's spotted Belinda through the skylight. EDGAR (moving around) It's her! Deadbolt--give me room··· INT ROOM Resorting to extremes, Will pulls out his father's sword. WILL If you do not leave this same minute, this will speak for me··. That gets their attention--they all freeze. WIDMERPOOL But Will--where's your fellowship? We must stick together, we who have drunk of the Avon... WILL I left the Avon--I hate the Avon··· For emphasis, he raises the sword. The tip goes through the roof thatch. ANGLE EDGAR And into Edgar's foot. He yowls, dances in pain, holding his foot--Deadbolt watches, open-mouthed, as he loses his balance and topples over the edge into the street.
90. INT ROOM They've heard the yowl--Will uses the pause to shove them out bodily; he latches the door behind them. Belinda's at the window--Will joins her there, in time to see one man helping another hobble around a corner. BELINDA It's my brother. He followed me here··· WILL No, it wasn't... BELINDA It was--and he was hurt.·· WILL It's a co-incidence. A man fell the street outside my window, a million to one chance: it and us have nothing in common... Saying this, he's locking the window, pulling the curtains across it. He returns to the bed, holds out his hand. WILL (CONT'D) Come to bed... She won't--she doesn't believe him, and Will doesn't believe himself. She starts to cry. He takes her hand and guides her back to the bed. ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA He pulls the sheet over their heads, like a tent. He holds her closely. WILL It will turn out... She shakes her head, sobbing. WILL (CONT'D) Your parents will change. They'll be angry at first, then forgive us when they see the love we have... She won't stop, no matter how he comforts her.
91. WILL (CONT'D) The lovers run away--they hide in the forest. They wait. Her father, her mother, the entire court searches for them. Everyone is overcome with grief... She knows who he's talking about--Romeo and Juliet. A beat- she joins in. BELINDA Her parents blame themselves for driving her away... WILL And then, emotion at its highest, the lovers return. Everyone is overjoyed. Instantly, the parents open their arms to them, all is forgiven, Paris forgotten. Even the King forgives them, for he too is a friend of love... He forces a smile. But the fantasy lies flat--both know it's whistling past the graveyard. CUT TO: INT WILL'S ROOM WILL AND BELINDA DAY Some time later. Belinda's cried herself to sleep--he's laying her down, gently slipping from the bed so he won't wake her. EXT QUARTERDECK SHIP DAY Rocking at its mooring on the Thames. The ship's CAPTAIN looks over the bejeweled sword of his father that Will's handed him. Two SEAMEN stand by. WILL It's worth it... CAPTAIN More, for that matter··· WILL She may not go willingly. It's not a kidnapping. It's from devotion- this is for her best welfare···
92. CAPTAIN We do as you say, sir... Will nods his thanks. INT WILL'S ROOM DAY Will bursts into the room, the seamen behind him. WILL Belinda, I've arranged it. You're free··· The bed is empty. Unbelieving, Will searches theand room- then stops short. On his table, his play manuscript--on the title page, an imprint of Belinda's red lips. Shouting, he runs out, past the seamen. INT WHITEHALL PALACE HALL DAY Ladies are being flung high into the air, squealing with joy. The great hall's filled with the glitterati of court, and in the center of it, a dance--the volta, two lines facing, lords and ladies, meeting in the center and on the third measure of the sprightly music, the lift, the men throwing the ladies up with as much leg and swirl of skirt as they can. Will pushes through the throng, searching for Belinda. ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA He sees her--she's in line with the woman dancers. He shoves through the crowd, comes up behind her. She wears a fixed smile--standing across from her in the line of men is Wessex, with the smile of a victor. WILL You did not have to do this... Her smile doesn't waver. WILL (CONT'D) You did not have to submit to him... BELINDA I did not. I negotiated... She dances to the center of the room, circles with Wessex, arm in arn--Will must wait, frantic, until she returns to her place. Wessex spots Will--so, to one side of the room, glowering on a cane, does Edgar.
93. BELINDA (CONT'D) He said he'd close down the play- he said he'd throw you in the Tower. I said if he did not, I would marry him... WILL No ·· ! In the opposite line, Wessex claps his hands, like an animal trainer--Belinda turns away, smiles at him. Will tries holding her as she moves out to meet Wessex--he follows her into the dancers' midst. Wessex flings Belinda up on the proper measure--they circle Will, he helpless, jostled by the dancers. WILL (CONT'D) Belinda, don't be my ransom--you are too fine... BELINDA Don't cry--nobody cries here.·· Will follows her back towards the line. WILL I'll burn the play... BELINDA You can't--I'm going to be in it, once anyway, the first day--that was one of my terms. Go--I'll come later... He's speechless. Wessex dances past. WESSEX Have your play--in a day, it will be forgotten. While I get her for life... Behind her smile, Belinda's tortured. BELINDA Will, don't you see--I'm doing what I want to do, and so am happy. Please--leave me... He can't--he stands there, out of place, in the swirl of the crowd. EXT GARDENS LOGGIA WILL AND NURSE Lost, Will stumbles down the loggia--he looks up and sees, sitting in the garden's center, the Nurse, alone, crying. Their eyes meet.
94. WILL She said nobody cried here... NURSE Clearly, she lied. He crosses to her--she clutches him. WILL We can't let him have her..· NURSE Her mind's made up--no one can change it. It's the saddest day of my life... CUT TO INT SPACE HENSLOWE AND CICILY DAY In some shadowed place--where's not yet clear. This is Henslowe the narrator--he's in his late seventies, frail, his hair wispy. Cicely, his granddaughter, is a solemn twelve. Henslowe wipes away a tear. HENSLOWE It was sad. You don't see love like that very often. It's rare--like solar eclipses or tidal waves... CICELY What happened..? HENSLOWE I was looking everywhere for Will. I couldn't find him--what a time to disappear. It turned out he'd locked himself in his room... INT THE ROSE WILL'S ROOM DAY The play ms. on the work table, the page with Belinda's lips on top. The page is stained--and now more drops fall on it. They're tears, Will's--he's leaning over the table, his face in his hands, crying. EXT STAIRWAY TO WILL'S ROOM As Henslowe puffs up the stairs to the landing. Peter sits vigil outside. HENSLOWE Anything..? Peter shakes his head. Henslowe knocks on the door.
95. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Will, it's Phillip. PETER It's no use... He points to a tray of untouched food by the door. Henslowe tries again. HENSLOWE Will, you must answer. You can't simply languish in there... No resosnse. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Stay with him... Henslowe starts down the stairs. PETER What about the play··.? From the slump of his shoulders, it's clear Henslowe has no idea. INT WILL'S ROOM NIGHT It's evening. Will sits red-eyed, lit by the fire, staring at the page with Belinda's lips. He puts that aside, picks up a chunk of the play, maybe half, flips through it. He stands, crosses to the fireplace and hurls the pages in. He watches them burn, curl to ash. He goes back to the table, sits heavily. He knows what he must do. He takes his pen, dips it, takes a blank sheet. He starts to write. INT WILL'S ROOM NIGHT Midnight. A candle burns low--Will, sobbing, writing as fast he can. A stack of new pages grows. CUT TO: INT TAVERN ACTORS AND FAMILIES NIGHT The actors around a table at a nearby tavern. BASHFORD'S WIFE is with him, the Hemmings brothers with their WIVES and KIDS underfoot. There's a general air of gloom.
96. JAMES I've been in good plays and bad- that's the risk you take--but I've always known what I'm supposed to say some time before opening day... JOHN The Nurse has her lines... James bats him, but only half-heartedly. SAM My dress is the color of puke... JOHN I suppose it's up to us to save it. What do you think, Wabash..? WABASH This is my first play. James feeds one of his kids from his plate. JAMES What do we think of Will..? SAM Scattered. Doesn't know what he wants.. BASHFORD (looking up) He took us each off the street. He's done well by us before. We know him--it's up to us to stand by him no.·.. JAMES Two days to go and we're not off book.. With a glance at his wife, Bashford stops a passing server. BASHFORD (showing with his fingers) I'll have a very small ale... INT HENSLOWE'S HOUSE NIGHT At the same time, Henslowe at home, at his dining table, his hands through his hair. The long-suffering MRS. HENSLOWE feeds him. HENSLOWE I never asked for riches, glory... His two DAUGHTERS, eight and twelve, dressed for bed, hurry in for a goodnight kiss, then run to their room.
97. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) I'm no artist. Enough to retire, a farm perhaps, watch the sheep fatten, make small ventures--not globe-girdling quests, packets to France, lace. How did I get in this business..? His wife puts her arms around him. WIFE You say this every time... INT ROSE LANDING PETER NIGHT Towards three--a hand is shaking Peter awake. He looks up- it's Will, gaunt, bleary-eyed, in the doorway. He hands him a sheaf of pages. PETER Master Shakespeare... WILL Copy these--I'll have more··· Peter stands to leave. WILL (CONT'D) And Peter, I find myself without a sword. Please, bring me one from property... PETER What sort of sword···? WILL The sharpest... He shuts the door. Peter hurries off. INT WILL'S ROOM DAWN First light through the window. Will finishes the last page of the last scene. He puts down his pen, leans back. It's done.
98. CUT TO INT THE ROSE STAGE GROUP DAY The company is gathered--Henslowe, the actors, bit players, costumers, grips, musicians. They're reading Will's revisions, passing the pages around. Will sits to one side, waiting for them to finish. Henslowe finishes first--he says nothing. The other reach the last pages, one by one look up. Nobody speaks. Henslowe finally clears his throat. HENSLOWE They die? Will nods. HENSLOWE (CONT'D) Both of them. It's a tragedy... WILL It must be. I've searched for the soul of love, and the soul of love is tragedy, because all love ends. Even at its highest, we all know it will end--love of man for woman, parent for child--it will end, it always ends, and that's why we hold so closely. If we lived forever, we would not love as hard... The company's silent. Henslowe only sighs--it's over. SAM I don't die--I marry... (he stands up) And I quit. PETER You can't. It's not done... SAM Then here I begin a tradition. And you're fools if you don't--you'll look like complete and utter fools up here... He heads off. The actors eye each other--they're afraid he's right. Still, nobody follows him. Peter finally stands. PETER We have the night. Let's begin... ANGLE FENNYMAN FREES AND LAMBERT Entering from the theater's front. Sam's passing him- Fennyman grabs him.
99. FENNYMAN Where's he going? SAM Leaving. FENNYMAN Not without my permission... SAM Go on, hit me--you still have no play.... WILL (from the stage) Mister Fennyman.. (Fennyman looks up) Let him go... Something in his tone makes Fennyman comply--Sam exits past him. FENNYMAN Then who plays the girl..? He looks over at Lambert--Lambert shakes his head vigorously. PETER I will. I'll read her, if I have to··· FENNYMAN Would anyone pay to see that..? WILL Some might. A few·.. FENNYMAN Then I'm in--I didn't memorize all those suffering words for nothing... ANGLE WILL AND HENSLOWE Henslowe sits dejected. Will touches his shoulder--it's a gesture of apology for what he's put his old friend through. Henslowe says nothing. CUT TO INT THE ROSE BACKSTAGE WILL AND BELINDA NIGHT Will passes through--beyond him, the company's rehearsing by candlelight. He looks up--Belinda is standing there, dressed as Thomas. They kiss--long, slow and sadly.
100. INT BACKSTAGE WILL AND BELINDA He's sat her in a corner--he waits while she reads the pages.When she puts the last one down, she's weeping. WILL What do you think··? BELINDA (looking up) It's perfect··· Will sighs. WILL Sam's gone. You can do Juliet--you know most of her lines... Belinda nods--she thinks she can. BELINDA Then who will be Romeo..? WILL Romeo is me. CUT TO EXT PEMBROKE'S THEATER EDGAR, ROWLEY, AND ACTORS NIGHT The Pembroke actors surround Rowley, watching as Edgar, on his cane, passes out some money. ROWLEY Your generosity does not convert us, my lord. We would do this for nothing... EDGAR Then tomorrow--at the Rose... INT MAKEPEACE'S ROOM MAKEPEACE NIGHT In his dingy room, on his knees, his eyes glinting, praying before his private, home-made altar.
101. MAKEPEACE God, give me strength, let me be thy avenging arm, striking down thy enemies, the great Babel, the Mog and Magog, those abominations in thy sight, or let me perish in the attempt. This I pray in your name. Amen... EXT LONDON LONG SHOT DAWN As the sun rises over the city, tinting the rooftops. EXT ROOFTOP OF ROSE DAY From the stage roof, Frees fires the cannon that announces that afternoon's performance. The blast echoes over the city. EXT LONDON STREETS The city hears--and responds. Apprentices slip from their work, housewives leave their servants in change, whores exit their brothels, lawyers postpone cases at in the Inns of Court--a good part of London enters the streets, all heading for the Rose. INT TAVERN SAM AND WRITERS The ink-stained wretches from the early scene--they look up from their writing at the passing crowds. WRITER ONE (grudgingly) Good house... WRITER TWO Everyone's heard about the play. SAM Let him try to replace me. He folds his arms. EXT ROSE DAY A hoard of people, a crush at the doorway. Pennies clink in the coin boxes.
102. INT ROSE AUDIENCE Spreading through the theater, noisy, excited, finding its places. On the second balcony over the stage, the musicians tune up. ANGLE WESSEX AND EDGAR Finding seats in the second gallery, with the other aristocrats. Edgar wsears a catbird smile. ANGLE AUDIENCE Visible among the crowd, Will's former landlady, Rowley's wife, the actors' wives and children come to cheer their husbands on, Mrs. Henslowe, and finally, Widmerpool and the Stratfordians. WIDMERPOOL (whispering to Jud Morgan) I hear there've been lots of problems with this play... ANGLE GALLERY DARK WOMAN A imperious WOMAN, hidden by the hood of her cloak and surrounded by young courtiers, takes a seat in the shadowy gallery corner, out of the crowd's sight. ANGLE GALLERY DARK MAN A middle aged MAN, his face obscured by a hat, takes an unobtrusive seat at the gallery's rear. INT BACKSTAGE JAMES He's stripped down, dressing in his Friar's habit. He suddenly realizes his walnut is missing from around his neck. He goes white. JAMES My lucky walnut... He looks around, frantically, turns to others passing. JAMES (CONT'D) Has anybody seen my Burbage walnut..?
103. INT BACKSTAGE WILL AND BELINDA Will's peeking out at the house--he looks dashing in his Romeo doublet and sword. He turns--there's Belinda, ravishing in her Juliet dress. They regard each other, are about to speak--when Peter appears and herds them over to where the rest of the company stands. ANGLE THE COMPANY They join Henslowe, the principals, extras, in costume, the stagehands, all jittery, eager. Costumers baste up last minute hems. Peter, the master copy of the play in his hand, counts noses. ANGLE BASHFORD AND WABASH Everybody's reacting to how good Thomas looks. Wabash stares at his breasts. He whispers to Bashford. WABASH Very convincing... Bashford looks, nods. WABASH (CONT'D) Better than Sam. BASHFORD Different... James passes through, searching for his walnut. Bashford notices Wabash's hands are trembling. BASHFORD (CONT'D) Frightened..? Wabash nods. BASHFORD (CONT'D) Vanishes, once it starts... WABASH But what if I appear a fool...?
104. BASHFORD The more fool you are, the better it plays, for some reason. It takes a certain courage--and as a suppliment, I often find benefit in this... He offers him a half-empty wine bottle he's concealing. Wabash takes a swig--so does Bashford, for the sake of manners. ANGLE PETER He hangs the plot board on a post beside him. He looks the company over. PETER Everybody ready? All nod. EXT OUTSIDE REAR OF THEATER JOHN HEMMINGS Bent over, in his Nurse's dress, yorking into the street. He wipes his mouth with his sleeve. JOHN And on we go... He heads inside. INT ROSE STAGE As the muscians begin an overture. The house settles as Peter walks slowly out downstage center and clears his throat.
105. PETER Two households, both alike in dignity,/ In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,/ From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,/ Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean./ From forth the fatal loins of these two foes/ A pair of star-crossed lovers take their life/ Whose misadventured piteous overthrows/ Doth with their death bury their parents strife... ANGLE BACKSTAGE HENSLOWE, WILL AND BELINDA Henslowe passes backstage as I,1 begins. Turning a corner, he comes upon Will giving Belinda a last secret kiss in the shadows. He turns quickly back, his hand on his heart. HENSLOWE (V.O.) There it was--the last straw. My Romeo was in love with my Juliet... ANGLE BACKSTAGE HENSLOWE Looking for a place to hide. HENSLOWE (V.O.) I could not watch. It could never work, not after a mad night of revisions, the actors dazed, bleary-eyed, searching for their nuts, not sure if the were friars or nurses or the Man in the Moon... He finds a dark corner. HENSLOWE (V.O.) All I could think of was how many parts of my body would still connect at day's end when our debacle was known, the show closed, and Fennyman exacting his terrible revenge... INT STAGE WILL AND JOHN John as Benvolio and Will as Romeo have entered. BENVOLIO Good morrow, Cousin.
106. ROMEO Ay me! sad hours seem long. BENVOLIO What sadness lengthens Romeo's hours? ROMEO Not having that which makes having them short. BENVOGLIO In love? ROMEO Out... ANGLE BACKSTAGE HENSLOWE Henslowe's pacing--he can hear the action on stage, faintly. HENSLOWE (V.O.) But hidden there, where I was, I realized I was hearing something unusual... He stops--he listens intently. HENSLOWE (V.O.) It was silence. The audience--it wasn't fidgiting, murmuring, cracking its knuckles, looking around to see who else was there or wondering where it would dine that evening. It was quiet... ANGLE WINGS HENSLOWE He bends at a knothole in the wall and peeks out at the audience. ANGLE STAGE Will and Belinda, holding masks to their faces, playing the Palmer's Kiss scene while the dancers at the Capulet party circle them. ROMEO O, then, dear saint, let lips do what hands do!/ They pray; grant thou, lest faith turn to despair.
107. JULIET Saints do not move, though grant for prayer's sake. ROMEO Then move not while my prayer's effect I take./ Thus from my lips, by thine my sin is purged. And he raises his mask and kisses her, sweetly and long. ANGLE AUDIENCE Henslowe's right--the audience is quiet. Every face is on stage, stirred by the scene's eroticism. There's an honesty to it--they've never seen actors kiss like that. HENSLOWE (V.O.) They were hooked. I could tell--I who'd always watched the house. They'd gotten past the skepticism all audiences must, that so many square feet of pine is Verona, that boys in dresses are girls, midgets are kings.. He stands from the knothole, considering this. HENSLOWE (V.O.) They were believing it... ANGLE WESSEX AND EDGAR Wessex fuming at what he sees on stage. WESSEX He's kissing her. She didn't say anything about kissing. Edgar calms him--he seems strangely unconcerned. ANGLE WINGS HENSLOWE Squeezing past Peter, who's hissing entrances and exits, to where he can see both the stage and the house. Beyond him, Will and Belinda in the balcony scene. HENSLOWE (V.O.) I looked for myself. I saw a boy and girl, filled with the juice of youth, in love at first sight. Everyone in the house knew love like that--they'd all felt it, or seen it once, or prayed for it...
108. ANGLE STAGE The end of the scene, where Juliet calls Romeo back for a third time. JULIET At what o'clock tomorrow shall I send to thee? ROMEO By the hour of nine. JULIET I will not fail. 'Tis twenty years till then./ I have forgot why I did call thee back. ROMEO Let me stand here till thou remember it. ANGLE AUDIENCE Chuckling--they like the joke as well. A few clap. ANGLE HENSLOWE Amazed. Will and Belinda exit past him--Peter shoves John on, as the Nurse, and Belinda again. Peter looks around for Lady Capulet. Bashford takes another slug, hides the bottle, hurries after. HENSLOWE (V.O.) I saw a jolly woman, a friend to the lovers, and it came to me how the greatest gift a friend can give is that of hope... ANGLE AUDIENCE PEMBROKES Inching through the crowd in the pit, Rowley leads his crew of Lord Pembroke's Men towards the stage. They conceal things under their capes. ANGLE STAGE John has the audience laughing, but Bashford's stumbling on his lines.
109. NURSE And then my husband (God be with his soul!/ 'A was a merry man) took up this child./ 'Yea,' quoth he, 'dost thou fall upon thy face?/ Thou wilt fall backward when thou hast more wit;/ Wilt thou not, Juliet?' and, by my holidam,/ The pretty wretch left crying and said 'Ay.' WIFE Enough of this. I pray thee hold thy peace. NURSE 'Thou wilt fall backward when thou comest to age:/ Wilt thou not, Jule?' It stinted and said 'Ay.' WIFE (Bashford pausing) She says ay. And I say, as the mother... ANGLE WINGS PETER Hissing a prompt to Bashford. PETER And stint thou too... ANGLE STAGE BASHFORD Bashford hears the prompt, nods. WIFE And stint thou too, I pray thee, nurse, say I. NURSE Peace, I have done./ That was the prettiest babe that e'er I nursed./ An I might live to see thee married once,/ I have my wish. WIFE Marry, that 'marry' is the very theme/ I came to talk of. Think you of marriage now. Younger than you,/ Here in Verona, ladies of esteem,/ Are made already mothers. By my count... Bashford goes up again--this time for good.
110. WIFE (CONT'D) (Bashford, to himself) "By my count, by my count··." What is the line? So many changes... ANGLE PETER AND HENSLOWE Hissing the prompt out loud. PETER I was your mother much upon these years... Henslowe covers his eyes. ANGLE STAGE Bashford looks around, in a boozy daze. WIFE "By my count·.·" What, by my count?--I haven't the vaguest idea... JULIET (whispereing) ...I was your mother much... Bashford finds himself now--he spreads his arms. BASHFORD (as Count Orgelioso) ..·I will have vengeance, arms and legs, hacked torsos, blood in a pudding, bowls of death-cold bodies to slake my thirst. Who thwarts Count Orgelioso shall spent eternity in Hell, indexing his errors... ANGLE BACKSTAGE All there are dumbfounded. PETER He's doing Muly Mullocco.·· ANGLE STAGE As John abruptly downstages Bashford.
111. NURSE She was your mother much upon these years./ Thus then in brief;/ The valiant Paris seeks you for his love./ Verona's summer hath not such a flower./ Speak briefly--can you like of Paris's love? JULIET I'll look to like, if looking liking move... ANGLE BACKSTAGE PETER AND HENSLOWE Peter taps Henslowe, who opens his eyes. PETER They covered... CUT TO INT STAGE DAY It's Act II--on stage, James as Father Capulet, and Juliet on her knees, crying. CAPULET Is she not proud? Doth she not count her blest,/ Unworthy as she is, that we have wrought/ So worthy a gentleman to be her bride? JULIET Good father, I beseech you on my knees,/ Hear me with patience but to speak a word. ANGLE HENSLOWE Henslowe's face is grim--Belinda is convincing.
112. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Then against all that hope, Will laid a father, so swollen with pride he put his own love before that of his child's. I felt her hurt, and I wondered if I'd done that ever with mine--one of them was your mother, by the way... ANGLE ROWLEY In the pit, looking up at Edgar in the gallery. Edgar holds up his palm. CUT TO ANGLE AUDIENCE DAY The musicians play--it's the Wedding scene. The audience is moved--wives reach out and take their husband's hands. ANGLE STAGE Romeo awaits Juliet's arrival with James, as the Friar. HENSLOWE (V.O.) We saw a wedding, held in secret because the parents could not know... Juliet enters--Romeo takes her hand and they kneel in front of the friar.· HENSLOWE (V.O.) ...the lovers kneeling and swearing, and all we husbands and wives remembered how we'd once knelt and swore, never guessing what was to come and what we'd have to weather... ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA Will using Romeo's words as his farewell to Belinda.
113. ROMEO Ah Juliet, if the measure of thy joy/ Be heaped like mine, then sweeten with thy breath/ This neighbor air, and let rich music's tongue/ Unfold the imagined happiness that both/ Receive in either by this dear encounter. ANGLE WESSEX AND EDGAR By now, Wessex can barely sit still. WESSEX This whole play's about me... But Edgar's holding his handkerchief, waving it faintly. ANGLE AUDIENCE THE PEMBROKES Rowley, among the Lord Pembroke's Men, sees Edgar's cue. He leads his company towards an exit. ANGLE WESSEX AND EDGAR Wessex has noticed this. WESSEX What are you about..? (realizing) A plot..? EDGAR A present for my brother-in-law··· Wessex smiles coldly--he may have misjudged Edgar. CUT TO INT STAGE DAY It's Act III--Fennyman struts his glory as Mercutio. BENVOLIO By my head, here come the Capulets···
114. MERCUTIO By my heel, I care not··· It's Wabash's cue--Fennyman glances to the wings. INT WINGS WABASH In terminal terror. He takes another swig from Bashford's bottle and a very deep breath. ANGLE STAGE As Wabash enters, leading the gang of Capulets. He's suddenly transformed himself into a giant, seemingly ten feet tall. The rival groups circle each other. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Next, we saw a man who preferred war to peace, hate to happiness, and we all bethought us how little it took to kill love, how it was an insect's wing, crushed with a finger··· TYBALT (Wabash's voice booming) Follow me close, for I will speak to them. Gentlemen, good-den. A word with one of you. MERCUTIO And but one word with one of us?/ Couple it with something; make it a word and a blow. TYBALT You shall find me apt enough to that, sir, and you will give me occasion. Mercutio, thou consortest with Romeo. MERCUTIO Consort? What, dost thou make us minstrels? Look to hear nothing but discords. Here's my fiddlestick; here's that shall make you dance. Tybalt sees a better game--Romeo has just entered. TYBALT Peace be with you, sir. Here comes my man./ Romeo, the love I bear thee can afford/ No better term than this: thou art a villain.
115. INT BACKSTAGE PEMBROKES With a cry, the Pembrokes invade the backstage, shouting. From under their capes, swords and clubs. ANGLE STAGE The actors hear the commotion offstage but stay in the scene. ROMEO I protest I never injured thee,/ But love thee better than thou canst devise/ Till thou shalt know the reason of my love;/ And so, good Capulet, which name I tender/ As dearly as my own, be satisfied. He starts off. Mercutio rushes Tybalt. MERCUTIO O calm, dishonorable, vile submission! (draws his sword) Tybalt, you ratcatcher, will you walk? ANGLE BACKSTAGE MELEE The company knows how to defend itself. Peter swings the plot board, Lambert and Frees crack heads, Bashford hugs one Pembroke, pickling his face with his breath. ANGLE FIGHT JAMES Knocked down, finding his feet--and spotting, rolling loose across the floor, his lucky walnut. He grabs for it, there's a Pembroke in his way--he clobbers him aside. He lunges for it again--another Pembroke intrudes and James knocks him ass over tit. He dives for it, grabs it, clutches it to his heart. ANGLE STAGE Mercutio and Tybalt swordfight on stage--Romeo struggles to get between them.
116. ROMEO Gentlemen! The Prince expressly hath/ Forbid this bandying in Verona streets./ Hold, Tybalt! Good Mercutio... HENSLOWE (V.O.) And then, in one blow, this man cut the lovers' cords in twain and sent them tumbling into misfortune... Romeo grabs Mercutio--Tybalt takes the opportunity and stabs Mercutio under Romeo's arm. The pigsblood bladder in Fennyman's costume breaks--blood gushes over him. Tybalt and his followers flee offstage. MERCUTIO (staggering) A scratch, a scratch. Marry, 'tis enough, 'tis not as deep as a well nor as wide as a church door, but 'twill serve. Ask for me tomorrow, and I am a grave man. Why the devil came you between us? ROMEO I though all for the best... MERCUTIO Help me into some house or I shall faint. A plague a both your houses. Fennyman exits, supported by Benvolio. INT WINGS FENNYMAN And finds himself in the middle of the backstage fight. Roaring, gory with stage blood, he happily charges into the middle of it. INT STAGE Romeo in agony. Benvoglio enters. BENVOLIO Oh Romeo, brave Mercutio is dead./ Here comes the furious Tybalt back again. Tybalt and his followers re-enter, cocky.
117. ROMEO Alive in triumph, and Mercutio slain?/ Now, Tybalt, Mercutio's soul is but a little way above our heads,/ Staying for thine to keep him company./ Either thou or I, or both, must go with him. He draws--so does Tybalt and they fall to fighting. ANGLE BACKSTAGE FENNYMAN AND ROWLEY Squared off backstage. Rowley steps back to draw his sword- he's off balance; Fennyman tackles him and flings him through the wings... ANGLE STAGE ROMEO, TYBALT AND ROWLEY And onto the stage. Sword out, Rowley finds himself in the middle of Romeo and Tybalt's stage fight. ANGLE AUDIENCE Puzzled. It's been captivated by the play--but who's this new character? ANGLE STAGHE FIGHT Rowley looking around, at the actors, the audience, at where he finds himself. Both Will and Wabash improvise--Wabash whacks him with the flat of his sword. ROMEO Needest thou assistance, then..? TYBALT Not for a robin such as thee. I thought him your man... Will decks Rowley, spins him towards Wabash. ROMEO Then balance the scales with me... TYBALT Willingly, for I would dispatch thee singly, to thy singular end... They double-team Rowley, who goes down--Wabash, cocky from the wine, can't resist a last kick at Rowley's midsection. Romeo skewers Tybalt--Wabash falls dead. Benvolio grabs at Romeo.
118. BENVOLIO Romeo, away, be gone! The citizens are up and Tybalt slain./ The Prince will doom thee death/ If thou are taken. Flee, be gone. ROMEO Oh I am fortune's fool! He runs off. INT WINGS WILL He exits past Peter pushing Belinda on stage. He beholds the fight's aftermath--James and John, knuckles bloody, Bashford wheezing, the Pembrokes tied up and gagged. Peter and Frees are dragging Rowley off stage. Fennyman wipes his hands. FENNYMAN You have lots of enemies. Of course, I approve. You never told me this was so much fun... CUT TO: INT ROSE THE AUDIENCE DAY Solemn, tense, silent. ANGLE STAGE III, v.--Romeo and Juliet on her balcony. Soft music plays. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Then we saw two lovers after a night of love. Will did not say so- he did not have to; we could tell by their eyes, the way they touched... JULIET Wilt thou be gone? It is not yet near day./ It was the nightingale and not the lark/ That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear./ Believe me, love, it was the nightengale. ROMEO It was the lark, the herald of the morn;/ No nightingale; night's candles are burnt out.
119. JULIET Yond light is not daylight; I know it./ Therefore stay yet; thou need'st not to be gone. ROMEO I am content, so thou wilt have it so./ I'll say yon grey is not the morning's eye./ I have more care to stay than will to go./ Come death, and welcome! Juliet wills it so. ANGLE AUDIENCE Spellbound. Some are crying. HENSLOWE (V.O.) And we knew, before they did, that love was done, that they'd never hold each other again··· ANGLE MAKEPEACE Among those in the audience in tears, crying, his sacred mission forgotten. ANGLE STAGE Romeo and Juliet kissing. ROMEO How is't, my soul? Let's talk. It is not day. JULIET It is, it is. Go hence, be gone, away!/ It is the lark that sings so out of tune./ O, now be gone! More light and light it grows. ROMEO Farewell, farewell. One kiss, and I'll descend. A last kiss, one last touch of fingertips--and Romeo climbs down and exits.
120. JULIET Art thou gone so, love-lord, my husband-friend?/ O God, I have an ill-divining soul!/ Methinks I see thee, now thou art so low,/ As one dead in the bottom of a tomb. She cries. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Tomb. And with that word, it all turned to tragedy. The audience did not breathe. It was like a dream-they did not want to wake them. You could hear a pin drop... FADE TO INT BACKSTAGE HENSLOWE AND COMPANY DAY Silent, expectant, sensing they're in the middle of something extraordinary. HENSLOWE (V.O.) And then we watched the lovers die··· ANGLE STAGE It's v, i--Romeo paces. Lambert, as Balthasar, enters. ROMEO News from Verona. How now, Balthasar?/ How doth my lady? How fares my Juliet?/ For nothing can be ill if she be well. BALTHASAR Her body sleeps in Capel's monument,/ And her immortal part with angels lives./ I saw her laid low in her kindred's vault. ROMEO Then I defy you, stars! BALTHASAR I do beseech you sir, have patience./ Your looks are wild and do import some misadventure.
121. ROMEO Tush, you are deceived. Leave me and hire posthorses./ I'll be with you straight. (Balthasar exits) Well, Juliet, I will lie with thee tonight./ Let's see for means. I do remember an apothecary/ And to myself I said, 'if a man did need a poison now,/ Here's a wretch would sell it him.'/ O, this thought did forerun my need. Come poison,/ Give me company to my Juliet's grave. FADE TO ANGLE STAGE DAY It's V, iii--Juliet lies on a bier in her tomb, asleep from the sleeping potion. Romeo forces open the tomb door. ROMEO Thou detestable maw, thou womb of death,/ Gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth,/ Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open. He beholds Juliet, crosses to her. ROMEO (CONT'D) O, my love! my wife!/ Death, that hath sucked the honey of thy breath,/ Hath had no power upon thy beauty./ Why art thou yet so fair? Shall I believe/ That unsubstantial Death is amorous,/ And that the lean abhorred monster keeps/ Thee here in dark to be his paramour?/ For fear of that, I still will stay with thee/ And never from this pallet of dim night/ Depart again. Here will I remain/ With worms that are thy chambermaids. ANGLE AUDIENCE Women dry their tears with handkerchiefs--men chew their knuckles. ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA Dead to the audience, she looks up at Will through half opened eyes.
122. ROMEO Eyes, look your last!/ Arms, take your last embrace, and lips, O you/ The doors of breath, seal with a righteous kiss/ A dateless bargain to engrossing death. He kisses Belinda, lovingly and long. The audience does not see her lips caress his in response.He takes out a vial of poison, a small cup, and fills it. ROMEO (CONT'D) Here's to my love. (he drinks off the vial) Thus with a kiss, I die. The poison runs through him--he collapses beside the bier. ANGLE AUDIENCE Silent, on the edges of their seats. ANGLE WINGS CAST Likewise spellbound, watching. ANGLE STAGE BELINDA A long beat--then Belinda stirs from her sleep. Behind her, James, as the Friar, enters the tomb. FRIAR Fear comes upon me./ O, much I fear some ill unthrifty thing. He sees Romeo--he reacts. FRIAR (CONT'D) Romeo! O, pale! Ah, what an unkind hour/ Is guilty of this lamentable chance. JULIET (waking, seeing the Friar there) O comfortable friar! Where is my lord?/ I do remember well where I should be,/ It was a pleasant sleep: thy potion served./ But where is Romeo?
123. FRIAR (to a noise offstage) I hear some noise. Lady, come from this nest of death./ A greater power than we can contradict/ Hath thwarted our intents. Juliet sees Romeo. She shrieks. ANGLE AUDIENCE Startled, where they sit or stand. BACK TO SHOT FRIAR Come, go, good Juliet. I dare no longer stay. JULIET Go, get thee hence, for I will not away. The friar exits--Juliet kneels in grief beside Romeo. JULIET . What's here? A cup, closed in my true love's hand?/ Poison, I see, hath been his timeless end./ Come night; come to Romeo, that day in night./ Take him and cut him out in little stars,/ And he will make the face of heaven so fine/ That all the world will be in love with night/ O, churl! Drunk all, and left no friendly drop?/ I will kiss thy lips./ Happly some poison yet doth hang on them/ To make me die with a restorative. She kisses Will--it's her goodby to him. She whispers the words too softly for anyone but him to hear. Will's crying- he whispers goodbye back to her. JULIET Thy lips are warm. From offstage, the sound of a watchman, entering--Frees struggles with the heavy door. JULIET (CONT'D) Noise? Then I'll be brief. O happy dagger! She takes Romeo's dagger from his belt.
124. JULIET (CONT'D) This is thy sheath; there rust, and let me die. She stabs herself. ANGLE AUDIENCE Silent as a grave. Many cry. ANGLE STAGE Above, on the balcony, a musician begins to beat a drum, slowly. The others join in a dirge--even they are crying. Below, Frees enters and reacts to what he sees. ANGLE STAGE As more enter the tomb--Bashford as the prince, the Capulets, the Montagues, reacting to what they find. They circle the dead lovers. PRINCE Seal up the mouth of outrage for a while,/ Till we can clear these ambiguities/ And know their spring, their head, their true descent;/ And then will I be general of your woes. The cast lifts the bodies of Romeo and Juliet and slowly bears them offstage in a procession. Bashford comes to the foot of the stage. PRINCE (CONT'D) A glooming peace this morning with it brings./ The sun for sorrow will not show his head./ Go hence, to have more talk of these sad things;/ Some shall be pardoned, and some punished;/ For never was a story of more woe/ Than this of Juliet and her Romeo. He follows the procession offstage. ANGLE BACKSTAGE The actors gathering silently, giving Bashford his exit. Will holds Belinda's hand. Now Bashford joins them--he and the rest of the company listen for the audience's response. They hear nothing.
125. WILL They didn't like it·.· BASHFORD (listening, a beat) I think they're crying... ANGLE AUDIENCE He's right--the whole house is in tears, overcome by what it's seen. And then somebody begins to clap. Others join in, more in turn, then everyone. Applause rocks the theater. ANGLE BACKSTAGE Hearing the applause, the shouts, growing, thunderous. They grin, excited--it's a hit. BASHFORD It's the most superabundantly beautiful thing I have ever seen... Will and Belinda beam at each other. Fennyman pumps Henslowe's hand--Henslowe's in a daze. He turns, hugs Will- he shoves the cast on stage to take their bows. ANGLE STAGE Will and Belinda lead the rest on stage. The house erupts in a cheer. They bow--when they turn to go, cheers grow louder. The audience won't let them off. Will takes a bow- he holds out his hand and brings Belinda forward. More cheering. AUDIENCE SAM He couldn't stay away--he's applauding wildly with the rest, mopping his tears. A MAN beside him nudges him. MAN He's good...
126. SAM He's outstanding. He's wonderful..· ANGLE AUDIENCE Fennyman's pals whistle, fingers in their teeth. The actors' families cheer--the little kids wave. Will's landlady, Rowley's wife, even Widmerpool and the Stratfordians, all on their feet. ANGLE WABASH Coming forward for his Tybalt bow. ANGLE MISTER WABASH Wabash's FATHER whistling loudly, feeling Henslowe's debt to him well paid. ANGLE STAGE Will thanking the musicians--even Peter comes on for a bow. Will leads the cast off. ANGLE BACKSTAGE They're all ecstatic, congratulating, hugging each other. The families and friends pile in from the audience. Will grabs Belinda's hand and runs off. ANGLE BACKSTAGE WILL AND BELINDA IN a private spot, he kisses her hotly and she him--it's for joy, and both know, for the last time. Will looks over her shoulder. Standing there is Wessex. WESSEX I believe you're holding something of mine... Will clutches Belinda's hand--he won't let go. WESSEX (CONT'D) Well? There was an agreement... Belinda nods, pulls away. As she crosses towards Wessex, Will whispers a prayer and draws his sword.
127. WILL I agreed she'd go. I did not agree you'd be alive to receive her... Belinda cries out, tries to stop him--he moves her aside. WESSEX Your sword's out--good; just where I want it. I saw your play, Shakespeare--here's my judgement. I will now divide you into five acts... He steps towards Will and in one move, draws his sword, backhand, slicing a cut across Will's arm. WESSEX (CONT'D) Oh--silly me. We hadn't really begun... When Will glances at the blood, Wessex pricks him in the other arm--he's toying with him. He thrusts--Will quickly draws his sword, blocks it, and the fight begins. Belinda calls to the others for help. INT WINGS Wessex drives Will back into the wings, into the middle of celebrating company. They make way, scattering. Will has recovered his poise--he defends himself. Fennyman cheers him on. WILL Last time we met, you tweaked me for never having killed a man... WESSEX I remember something along those lines... WILL You've never met one that so hated you, or so indifferent to living. He thrusts. Wessex flinches for a moment, recovers and drives Will back onto the stage. ANGLE AUDIENCE Half the house is still there--the fight appearing onstage makes them turn. They can't tell if it's real or some unannounced encore. Some clap. ANGLE STAGE WILL AND WESSEX
128. A furious fight, swords clanging. WILL You're an enemy of love, Wessex- you leave it dead behind. The world would bloom without you in it... WESSEX I see--now you're a gardner... WILL The pruner, who cuts the weeds and lets the living grow... WESSEX Rhetoric. Did you think for one moment you, a paltry player, rags on a stick, could love a woman so far above you? She's from a world where things are real-- you're a simulation·.. Will gets under his guard and slashes his arm. WILL No simulation that... WESSEX Then I counter with reality... And he cuts Will in the hip--blood spreads on his hose. WILL Then when I cut you, pretend you're not bleeding. Will sidesteps the lunge, slugs him off his feet: when Wessex sprawls, he stands on his sword hand and lays his point at Wessex's throat. THOMAS Will, no! Don't do it... They glare at each other, breathing hard. WOMAN'S VOICE (O.S.) She's quite right--stop this at once··· FULLER ANGLE INCLUDING ELIZABETH It's her commanding voice, the Queen herself--she's the dark lady who's been sitting in the gallery. Her courtiers move the company aside--it drops to its knees in reverence as she climbs on stage. Will steps off Wessex, kneels--so, when they see her, do those remaining in the audience.
129. ELIZABETH Enough blood for one night, Wessex. I thought you were a swordsman. Manners... He sullenly kneels to her. She looks around. ELIZABETH (CONT'D) Belinda de Lesseps? Where are you··? Thomas pushes through the company, comes forward and curtsies. ANGLE THE COMPANY Realizing at the same moment Thomas is Belinda, and Belinda's a girl. Peter is shocked, Wabash delighted, Fennyman amazed. Bashford blinks. JOHN I knew it all along... JAMES What a lie that is... They bat at each other. ANGLE HENSLOWE Near one of the stage posts, realizing this is the love Will spoke of. His eyes roll back--he holds on to keep from falling. ANGLE FAVORING ELIZABETH Commanding the stage. ELIZABETH You made a pact, Belinda--you're obliged to keep it. Go to Wessex. BELINDA Yes, Your Majesty... She crosses obediently to Wessex. ELIZABETH Will Shakespeare..? WILL Yes. Ma'm.
130. ELIZABETH What are you about? Next you'll be spreading the false conclusion the sword is mightier than the pen. WILL Yes. Ma'm. ELIZABETH Stick to your writing. By the way- I enjoyed it. She turns--the courtiers clear a path and she exits through the crowd. Wessex, with one last look for Will, takes Belinda and leads her off. ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA Will watches her leave. She looks back at him one last time and then is gone. CUT TO: EXT REAR OF ROSE NIGHT The street is deserted. Will sits on the curb, his head in his hands, miserable, weeping. A beat--then the man in the hat from the rear of the theater sits beside him. MAN Quite a night. WILL Did you see it? MAN Yes. He looks over Will's wounds. WILL Let them bleed--they'll clean themselves.·· The man notices Will's sword. MAN Who's is that..? WILL I sold yours. The man nods. Peter appears behind them, spots Will, comes over and drops a bag of clinking coins alongside him. Will thanks him and he leaves.
131. MAN And that..? WILL My share. The man hefts the bag. MAN Heavy. WILL It's what I asked for. I should have asked for more. Oh, father... Will breaks out weeping and buries his face in JOHN SHAKESPEARE'S shoulder. His father puts his arm around him and holds him. ANGLE LONG SHOT Father and son on the dark street. HENSLOWE (V.O.) And that was the first performance of Romeo and Juliet. CICELY (V.O.) Did he ever see her again.? HENSLOWE (V.O.) Once... INT WHITEHALL PALACE DAY A command performance of Romeo and Juliet. The hall is jammed with royals, Elizabeth on a throne. There's a new Romeo--and Sam's playing Juliet. ANGLE WILL AND BELINDA Will stands in the wings, staring through the crowd at Belinda. She sits beside Wessex--she returns his look. Her face is pale, emotionless.
132. HENSLOWE (V.O.) We had a different Romeo. Sam played Juliet--as well, but differently. That was the beginning of a period of great success for us. Will, myself, the Hemmingses, Bashford, we founded the Lord Chamberlain's--we were the foremost theater company in London for the next fifteen years... INT PLAYHOUSE WILL DAY An older Will, balding, paunchy, watching a production of Hamlet from the wings. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Will wrote many more plays--some love stories, a few histories, but mostly tragedies... CICELY (V. O.) What happened to the baby..? HENSLOWE (V.O.) She raised him. He came out fine. Wessex died in a duel two years later. Belinda married the old Duke of Southampton. He liked boys--in the customary sense... INT THE ROSE THEATER DAY Where Henslowe and Cicely have been all this time. It's the year 1645--the Rose is long-since abandoned, in ruins now, the galleries collapsed, weeds knee-high in the pit. Henslowe walks Cicily through it, holding her hand. HENSLOWE Of course, the Puritans won, in the end--the plays have been closed since '44. They'll open again- they always do. People like going to the theater... (he sighs) I wish you could have seen it, Sissy. Like Bashford said, it was beautiful. It was true love. All spit and paper-mache, of course, but the truest love I ever knew, and thank God I, who made my living selling illusions, saw it once, else I might never have believed such a thing existed...
133. EXT STRATFORD MEADOW LONGSHOT DAY In the distance, an elderly man and woman sit on chairs at a picnic in the center of a bright English meadow. Daughters bring them food--grandchildren gambol at their feet. HENSLOWE (V.O.) Will retired in 1609, wealthy, fat like me and rather tired, back home to Stratford, to the comfort of his wife and daughters. He dabbled a bit in real estate and grew roses and then he died, in the sixteenth year of the new century. The figures in the meadow grow dim and fade. FADE OUT