December 10, 2008

How to Survive a Renaissance Drama

(A practical survival guide in case you should ever find yourself in a play written during the English Renaissance.)

1. Try to ascertain whether you are in a comedy or a tragedy: Comedies may feature cross-dressing, fairies, forests, crude sexual humour, and illicit romance. Tragedies may feature murder, incest, madness, gratuitously violent acts, crude sexual humour, and some seriously illicit romance.

If you're trapped in a comedy, take heart: hardly anyone ever dies in a comedy. If you're trapped in a tragedy, the rest of this guide may prove useful.

2. Do not marry, kiss, flirt with, seduce, or make sexual advances toward anyone. This is a sure path to doom.
2a. At the same time, do not refuse to be married.

2b. At the same time, if the person who intends to marry you is a relative, it doesn't matter what you do, because you're practically dead already.

3. The Duke is most likely evil. Also, the prince and his cronies. And the duchess. And the queen. Keeping to yourself might be the wisest course.

4. Never get on a boat.

5. If there is a curtain or a wall-hanging in the room, somebody will be behind the curtain.
5a. Try to avoid being the person behind the curtain.

6) The Cardinal usually gets the last word. Remember this.

7) Do not eat or drink. Ever.

8. Do not talk to strangers, witches, old friends, new friends, the Cardinal, the Duke, anyone's illegitimate offspring, grave-diggers, children, or clowns.

9. Do not attend plays or masques.

10. You will probably be cuckolded. It's best to accept this now. If you're lucky you will survive that as well as everything else.

11. Ascertain as quickly as possible whether you are a major or minor character. Neither gives you particularly better odds, but remember: knowledge is power! Until it gets you killed, that is.

Upon reading this list, you might conclude that your odds of survival in a Renaissance-era tragedy fall somewhere between "slim" and "none". Take heart: you'll likely die a horrible, gruesome death, but at least you'll go out confident in your own acuity.


raych said...

AHhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh ha ha ha ha ha ha!!! This is one of those things that I wish I'D written. If only I were this clever.

Alice said...

Wait...didn't you say all this before?

Christine said...

Sort of. I pulled it from an old blog -- this version has been significantly expanded. But yes, if it looks familiar, you're not crazy.

Katherine said...

Hahaha! I studied Renaissance drama in college (wrote my thesis on the clowns and fools in Shakespeare's comedies), so this is perfect! Thanks.

Heather J. said...

I LOVE this! Another blogger wrote something sort of similar in relation to Fantasy and living out your own quest. Here's the link if you want to check it out.

Tina Kubala said...

I couldn't help thinking those rules would be very useful in the Thursday Next novels. I adore The Eyre Affair.

Christine said...

Me too :)