where the writers are
The Merchant of Menace, a one-minute play


Lights up on a courtyard in London in the year 1605. Enter THE JEW dressed in a long black overcoat and carrying a satchel. He stoops a bit and slouches as he waits in the shadows. A distant clock strikes twelve times.




THE JEW: Midnight, and no sign of him. If he come not I will make it known that he is not a man of his word.




(A figure appears, moving cautiously out of the shadows at the opposite side of the stage. It is none other than William Shakespeare himself.)




THE JEW: (to himself) He comes. He sees me.




SHAKESPEARE: Is that you, Shylock? Are you there?




THE JEW: (stepping into the light) I am here. Come forward.




SHAKESPEARE: (crossing to stage center) Do you have it?




THE JEW: (holding up his satchel and giving it a pat) It is right here. Do you have the chinks?




SHAKESPEARE: (holding up a pouch) Every penny. (He moves a few steps closer) Let me see it.




THE JEW: Let me hear them.




(SHAKESPEARE gives the bag a shake and the coins jingle)




THE JEW: Ah, such sweet music.




(They make the exchange. SHAKESPEARE opens the stachel and looks inside. He puts in his hand and recoils.)




SHAKESPEARE: (his face screwed up with repugnance) Ugh! What’s this! The flesh of an animal?




THE JEW: Ha, ha. The human animal.




SHAKESPEARE: (Thrusting the disgusting matter back in the stachel and throwing it down) What’s the meaning of this? I said I wanted a pound of hash! Hashish! The kind you can smoke!




THE JEW: (defiantly) I thought you said a pound of flesh? I distinctly heard you say “a pound of flesh.”




SHAKESPEARE: (riled) I said nothing of the kind. I said a pound of hash. Give me my money back, you cheat, you swindler.




THE JEW: (cackles, turns, and rushes out) NEVER!




SHAKESPEARE: (as the lights fade) Serves me right for dealing with one of my own worst characters.