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Shakespeare Swear Words


“I bite my thumb at you sir!”

Why did it have to be Shakespeare?

“I do desire we may be better strangers!”

The man was a genius, but, he wrote for an illiterate peasant crowd.

Like TV and movies today, he included plenty of fart jokes, crotch shots and swear words.

He cleverly disguised adult content from future generations by cloaking it in another language.

(There’s old math and new math. There’s old english and new english. Don’t get me started.)

Most students need to have Ye Olde Elizabethan Englishe interpreted to them. Not mine.

Mine were raised reading a King James Bible and when Shakespeare puts his actors into lewd situations, only my kids will blush. They will get the innuendos before the teacher explains them.

I can speak the mother tongue. When the swear words run through my head, complete with cloak and dagger, I don’t let them out of my mouth.

But you can tell they’re in there because my eyebrows go up by an inch and a half.

My kid landed a part in the school play. It’s his first, and he’s pretty jazzed about it.

Between jetting off to Canada and keeping up with cross country meets, somewhere in the shuffle I lost track of this fact.

“Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.”

Bad mom.

I remember helping him with his audition and then dashing away to the grocery store.

Two weeks into rehearsals, I was told to attend the parent meeting, and that he got the part of…Juliet.


I went to the parent meeting armed with a prepared tirade against the public school system as a whole, and my best stink-eye. I was pretty steamed up.

And then the sweetest lady sat down and introduced herself as the drama coordinator.

“There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune.”

“Thank you all for your talented children. It’s our first, ever, drama performance at this school, and I went for the easiest play I could find to start us off with.”

Easy? Do you know how many lines Juliet, alone, has to memorize?

“Thy sin’s not accidental, but a trade.”

“This play contains bits of everything Shakespeare wrote and puts them into a spoof. The kids and I have been slowly going through the script.”

Spoof? What does she mean?

“Come, come, you froward and unable worms!”

“You may not realize this, but plays by Shakespeare are pretty rough. We’ve been going through, line by line, and just cutting content to make it teen-appropriate.”

You’re destroying Shakespeare? Is this legal?

“Your brain is as dry as the remainder biscuit after voyage.”

“You’re Juliet’s mom, right?” she asked, looking straight at me.

“Oh, um, yes. I guess so. He’s playing…Juliet?”

“As I said, it’s a spoof. Your extremely tall son is playing Juliet and a very short young lady is playing Romeo. They pull off the comedy effect very well.”

Slowly it was dawning on me that things weren’t as they seemed.

I put my stink-eye back into the bottom of my purse.

“Your son approached me on day one and wondered how acceptable the play would be. Most kids don’t even understand the parts that I’m deleting. By the time we’re through, we’re hopefully turning out a play that the whole family can come support.”

I put my tirade aside for another, more worthy opponent.

“This performance is light-hearted, fast-paced, and most importantly, easy on our non-existent budget. The costumes and sets aren’t what you think they are.”

I just couldn’t decide what to say next.

She put three teens on the stage (“The fourth is at volleyball right now”) and gave us a sample of Hamlet.

To a rap.

Roll over, Beethoven.

“You, minion, are too saucy.”

(In case your Google isn’t handy, my quotes are from: Romeo and Juliet, As You Like It, All’s Well That Ends Well, Henry V, Measure For Measure, Taming of the Shrew, and Two Gentlemen of Verona.)

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