Anthony R. Miller checks in with…wait, what was I saying?
Hey you guys, in honor of the national stoner holiday of 4/20 (At least it was when I was writing it), were going to decide if William Shakespeare was one of theatre’s first functioning stoners, because 4/20, whatever. Also, this is meant to be silly, let’s not get too worried about details here. What’s important is that I’ve got my reasons, predictably, there are five.
Britain Loved Weed
In the late 1500’s England used hemp for everything, rope, printing bibles and textiles, even a few of Shakespeare’s early plays were written on Hemp paper. Also, social behavior was not as closely monitored, at the time people could pretty much do whatever the fuck they wanted as long as they didn’t murder anybody. Smoking Tobacco was also getting pretty huge at the time. So it’s not crazy to conclude that the far more fun at parties version of hemp was also grown and Willie was smoking a jay by the Thames writing about Magic Fairies making people fall in love.
Finding Shakespeare’s Stash
In 2001, anthropologist Francis Thackeray suggested that a source of Shakespeare’s productivity and creative inspiration came from smoking cannabis. He led a study which analyzed residues from pipes found in his home. Sure enough, the test showed traces of Cannabis. Keep in mind, there’s no proof those were his pipes, he was probably holding them for a friend. Also, according to several Shakespeare biographers, including Rene Weis (Author of 2007’s Shakespeare Revealed”.), Shakespeare suffered from almost crippling back pain and needed help getting around. Could The Bard have been the first medical marijuana patient? Was Avonian Willie using a Sativa during the day to focus and create content and an Indica at night for pain management?
The only way to know for sure would be to exhume Shakespeare’s body and sample hair and teeth. Thackeray even considered petitioning the Church of England to let him do exactly that, but decided against it. After all, the guy’s tombstone basically curses anybody who messes with the grave. But the poem that started Thackeray on his quest was Sonnet 76, which features the lines; “And keep invention in a noted weed,” and “To new-found methods and to compounds strange.” Now it’s not quite “passeth the duchie on the hath left handeth side.“ but, Thackeray and others think these are clear references to The Bard of Avon smoking two joints in the morning and thusly, two more at night. Taken with the right context and interpreted the right way, these could clearly be seen as drug references, especially if you’re high. I mean c’mon the poem says “WEED”.
Doobie or Not Doobie
Put a few theatre nerds in the same room, bring up the Hamlet Soliloquy and the proper way to perform it, and you may get a fist fight. So what if this often analyzed, quoted, performed, and debated monologue was just the internal ramblings of a grumpy introverted stoner? What if those famous words were preceded by Hamlet taking a fat bong rip? Taken in that context, is it so crazy the death of his father and the betrayal by his own family has led this moody Dane to wanting to sit in his room , puff blunts, listen to some Depeche Mode and have an existential meltdown? Enjoyeth the Silence indeed.
Rosencheech and Guildenchong
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern had one job, get Hamlet to England. But those lovable goofballs screw it all up. (And Die, but let’s not split hairs here.) Whether it’s Harold and Kumar or Bill and Ted, they all owe their existence to Hamlet’s Child hood friends. Two guys with no real responsibilities, who seem happy to just skate through life, aren’t too bright and have no idea and bless their hearts, just can’t do anything right. Their propensity to just back into adventures is another key component for any lovable but not all there duo and it all started with these guys. Even the sincerity of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, the notion that they truly have no idea how ridiculous they look, is a key component of the naïve nature of camp and silly comedy. Is this all just the result of Shakespeare being short on a lid a of grass and he told his dealers, “Ok, what if I write two characters in my new play based on you, think you can spot me till Friday?”
Anthony R. Miller is a good upstanding contributing member of society and for no reason should be investigated by the DEA. He is also a Writer, Director and Producer, keep up with his work at www.awesometheatre.org.