Kelly Gallagher ’22
Anyone who has ever claimed a degree in English is good for nothing can take a seat now. The Holy Cross English Department has announced an exciting new initiative in order to renew appreciation of the major – Drunk Shakespeare. The program is inspired by the Off-Broadway performance in which five cast members attempt to perform a Shakespeare play after one actor gets drunk. The English Department while be adding its own twist. As described on their new web page, “All cast members will be expected to perform while – to put it informally – totally smashed.”
The program was suggested by sophomore English student Jane Austen, who was inspired not by the original performances of Drunk Shakespeare, but by her own experience trying to finish her English homework while intoxicated. “I had to finish the last two acts of ‘King Lear’ the night before class, but I hated the play, so I motivated myself by taking a shot at the end of every scene,” she explained. For those who haven’t had the profound pleasure of reading the last two acts of “King Lear,” this amounts to ten shots.
She continues, “But this totally changed my reading. My eyes were opened to the complexities of the play, and what it says about life, sin, and nothingness. By the time I finished, I was sobbing. And vomiting. I realized that this was the best state in which to read Shakespeare. I was just so much more receptive to its themes than I was in the classroom, and I think every English student deserves the opportunity to experience Shakespeare like this.”
Because of Austen’s conviction that students’ education would be greatly enhanced by this method, she went straight to the Department to pitch her idea. After professors of the Department chastised Austen for her use of the passive voice in her presentation, her idea was enthusiastically received. “It teaches all the skills we strive to nurture in students at a liberal arts school,” Professor Tolstoy said as he nursed a bottle of vodka. “The ability to think on your feet in unpredictable situations, public speaking, and a high alcohol tolerance.”
In addition, a student’s comfort in slipping phrases such as “knave” or “congreet” into everyday conversation is a critical interview skill. “If you can intimidate an interviewer into thinking you’re smarter than him or him, you’ve got the job,” disclosed Professor Morrison. At the least, if the interview doesn’t work out, you can then satisfactorily publicly shame that “three inch fool” on Twitter with the announcement “Villain, I have done thy mother.”
There are even discussions regarding whether it will become a mandatory part of English classes to perform in Drunk Shakespeare. “Sure, many of our students are underage,” Professor Proust reflected airily, “but they’re probably drinking anyway. At least this way they’re actually engaging with the play instead of skimming Sparknotes.”
Auditions for the first performance drew a massive crowd of hopefuls, packing The Pit, but only a few lucky folks were cast in the College’s performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Drink.” Tickets can be bought in Hogan Center for the one-night-only showing on April 1 in The Pit. Alcoholic consumption by audience members is not required but strongly encouraged.
This article appeared in the annual satire edition of the Spire.