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.

 

 

 

 

 

BLACKOUT.