We have sworn, my lord, already.

Is Marcellus hesitating to swear upon a sword for some reason?
Is it that this swearing will be redundant after the preceding swearing in faith?
Is it that swearing upon a sword involves contact with the blade in such a way that might be painful to the swearer?
It’s possible that this is an oath Marcellus isn’t sure he should commit to before knowing what exactly the problem here is. Or maybe he’s thinking that this is one of those times when you might have to break a trust with someone in order to do something in their best interest.
I’ve had to do that and it was awful. I’d do it again, though.
I know that I will call a policeman to save you from yourself no matter how much you might hate me for it.
There are promises one just can’t keep.
Marcellus makes this one, then disappears.

Nor I, my lord – in faith.

Sometimes you commit to a project that you made up for yourself, one which only you give a shit about, one which no one may ever read but you and then you wonder why you bother. It’s all going along just fine – fruitlessly perhaps – the spinning of words not really amounting to anything but when does it ever? But then you come across the next step, the step of the staircase, almost identical to the stair before it and the one before that and suddenly you need a whole lot of strength or will or something to put your foot on the next one. There’s really nothing at the top of the stairs, nor anything particularly compelling about the journey. There’s nothing at the bottom urging you up, nor anything down there that would shame you if you returned. There’s literally no reason at all to keep walking up the stairs. Well, there’s one. It is simply the agreement with yourself that you would walk up and an idea that you would keep going even when it got difficult. Or tedious. So you keep walking up. One step at a time.

My lord, we will not.

It’s a tricky thing when characters speak together. It almost never seems spontaneous.
No character ever speaks with another in a play, then looks at the other in wonder, the way we do when this happens in life. Onstage, choral speaking is an accepted convention, I suppose.
I have no objection to it. In fact I’d probably like more of it. It’s satisfying to hear people speak together.
Just once, though, I’d like to see two characters speak at once, then look at each other and do a “Jinx, buy me a coke” gesture.

Ay, by heaven, my lord.

I’m sorry. But I’ve got nothing here. As we approach the end of Act I, over a year into this project, (or is it two?) I’ve finally run out of responses. Partly, it’s the repetition. I’ve thought about heaven some and “my lord.”

Ay, perhaps, I haven’t quite dived into Ay.

But Ay, yi.. . . what is there to be said?

Perhaps, though, I’m up against a feeling of futility in my art already and it’s all magnified today. A line like this fails to inspire on an uninspiring day in an uninspiring week.

How is’t, my noble lord?

How’s it shakin’, bacon?
What up?
You chillin?
Sometimes in intense un-normal situations,
The return to normalcy can be bracing.
Tony told a story about walking through Hackney
Where he saw this guy he knew from his neighborhood –
Someone he greeted pretty regularly, who knew his kids and such.
So this guy he knew from around the way
Was standing on the street
Brandishing Molotov cocktails
Surrounded by a crowd that was scared and confused
Probably, too, police or security, trying to talk him out of it.
It’s a heightened situation
And as Tony goes by he nods at this guy, like always
Says his standard hello and the guy nods
At Tony, lets his weapons drop for a moment
In order to say hi to Tony and his kid
Then once they’ve passed, picks his weapons back up
And once again menaces the crowd.
Tony doesn’t know what happened then –
He kept moving
But I wonder if that little dose of routine
That little break into normalcy
Got the brandishing, violently inclined man
To reconsider what he was doing,
To suddenly see the weapons in his hands –
To be as he was, at least for a moment.

Illo, ho, ho, my lord!

This is a falconer’s cry, isn’t it?
Once again, I’m struck by the intimacy
That Marcellus has with Hamlet.
Is it standard practice to call a prince
With a falconer’s cry? I’m guessing no.
The prince returns it, in kind, and calls Marcellus a bird.
There must be a kind of tether between them,
Some binding, like the leather that ties a falcon
To an arm, but loose like the faith that when the bird flies away
It will return with the binding of your voice.
The falconer sets free his bird
Secure in the knowledge that it will return
When he calls for it.
The other bird I think of is
In Romeo and Juliet when Juliet imagines Romeo were her bird
Just when she has to let him go.

Lord Hamlet!

No one calls Claudius Lord Claudius.
I wonder why that is.
Maybe it’s just because it doesn’t SOUND so good?
Claudius being quite a mouthful already – it might seem
A bit much to add another syllable.
Or perhaps because the title is new to him.
It just won’t settle on the tongue.
Hamlet has likely been Lord Hamlet his whole life –
As a baby, he would have been little Lord Hamlet
A little bitty Lordie Hamlet-y
Primed from the cradle to fill his father’s shoes.
Now how is it that Claudius managed to sneak into those shoes
Before Hamlet? Is it just because
Hamlet was out of town when his dad died?
Not only was Hamlet likely primed for succession
But the Danish people were also primed, waiting, anticipating
When he would be king.
Even now in this century, when monarchies are mostly essentially powerless,
We watch a Prince’s actions closely
Monitor his behavior
Wonder if he will be king and how he would be king.
How does Claudius spin this switcheroo in the public eye?
Why have they not risen up and rioted?
Laertes works up enough people to support a bid, why not Hamlet?

Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.

Who left that bag of onions in the back of that cupboard in the legislature? Things aren’t so pure around here as a rule but to compund it with the disintegration of vegetable matter, really goes over the rotting edge. It starts to smell; at first just tickling the nose with wafts of stink, then growing until the source of the corruption is found.
Marcellus can smell it. A ghost appears, stalks off with his son. Marcellus smells trouble. He smells the kind of trouble that won’t be solved with a removal and a fumigation. He smells trouble that starts with a bag of rotting onions but then travels through the entire cupboard filling up the house with corruption, spreading like a cancer til everything ends up dead. That won’t happen here, of course. No.