By Julianna Reidell (with thanks to Dishari Barua):
The residents of Stratford-Upon-Avon woke early last week to a commotion at the local Holy Trinity Church. Fearing that someone had set out to vandalize the William Shakespeare memorial inside the chapel, officials rushed to the scene-- only to find Mr. Shakespeare himself, somewhat skeletal and zombified, but quite intent on clarifying a few points about his world-famous plays.
“Actually, Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, is gay,” Mr. Shakespeare was heard saying as the awestruck law enforcement officers escorted him to the town hall, “He and Horatio had a passionate relationship with a sexual dimension to it. I know it’s not really in the play - well, maybe a little subtextually - but it seemed like something the public should know.”
If this announcement-- not to mention Mr. Shakespeare’s rise from that undiscovere’d country from whose bourn no traveller returns-- shocked English scholars and theater geeks worldwide, it was nothing to what the Bard had to say next.
“I’m planning to write a prequel to Othello,” he declared, “where I tie in Shylock, Juliet-- who’s ditched Romeo-- and Macbeth, who is, by the way, trans. I’m not sure why, but I have this inexplicable calling to write a play starring a Black man, a Jewish man, an independent cis woman, and a trans man. Do you think it’ll sell at all? Also, Puck is non-binary and King Lear had an open marriage. And of course there were more Muslim characters-- all of the guards at Elsinore were Muslim, didn’t you notice?
“I don’t have any atheists, though,” he continued, “I mean - people who don’t believe in God? Pretty sure there used to be another word for that. Let me see… what was it? Oh, yeah-- heathens!”
This last statement has shocked and offended many atheist admirers of Mr. Shakespeare’s work, with many former fans starting the Twitter hashtag #RRIPwilliamShakespeare (Really RIP William Shakespeare). An Oxford professor has also incensed the masses after she criticized Mr. Shakespeare’s decision to go public with this jarring information.
“I would just like to point out, Will, if you’re listening,” she is quoted as saying on the Nerd Channel of television, “that you’re William Shakespeare. People still read your plays. They memorize them, perform them, argue over them, try to make kids like them, and apply all sorts of literary lenses to them. You don’t need to ‘woke them up.’ And, honestly, he’s Hamlet. Does knowing he’s gay make any difference to the plot? Anyone?”
Mr. Shakespeare did not deign to acknowledge this question. He did, however, also announce that he also plans to write a children’s play-- Joey Macbeth and the Icky Haggis-- and will grace several British virtual schools with his presence “once I’ve figured out all this technology business.”
In the meantime, he has been offered lodging in Edinburgh, at the home of another world-famous author with trouble letting go, who was very happy to have him stay.