Truly to speak, and with no addition, We go to gain a little patch of ground That hath in it no profit but the name.

This is one of those lines that gets pulled out every time some army goes to war over something no one understands. The Falkland Wars come to mind. And it is interesting that it is the captain that reveals this truth to Hamlet, not knowing of course, that he’s speaking to the Prince of Denmark. He speaks to him in the way of a friendly stranger at a bar, letting spill his secret thoughts about the silly job he has been tasked with.
It suggests that Hamlet does, indeed, have a way with people. It also suggests that people have been going to war for dumb reasons for centuries and of course those in the middle cannot be fooled.


The nephews to old Norway, Fortinbras.

And why is it that Fortinbras is the nephews? Is he such a force that his single nephew-hood becomes plural? Is plurality a kind of respect? Or is it a punctuation error? – As in the nephew’s to old Norway. As in the nephew is to old Norway. Or a printing error and there should be no s there at all?
Or – is it that Fortinbras is really two brothers and they are collectively, the Fortinbras Bros.
it would be funny if there were two of them. And they’d kind of have to be twins. And it would be cool because when they came in at the end of the play, it’d be like, only two guys can take the place of Hamlet.

And, of course, only some editions have “nephews” others have “nephew.” What I need are copies of the folio and both quartos to get to the bottom of this!

Against some part of Poland.

The day after the Brexit vote, I visited with several friends, all of whom were immigrants to London and all of whom felt devastated and nervous about the vote. I went and met one of them at the Polish Cultural Centre where she had a rehearsal and we chatted about many things, not just the vote. She did, though, share with me that everyone there was very anxious about what might happen to them. Much of the anti-immigration sentiment in recent years had been directed at Polish people so they could only begin to imagine what might be ahead. Especially considering their history. My friend had fled Poland after WW2. She escaped a place depleted by the Holocaust and found a home in London. She was nervous about the future.

Two days later, I read that the centre had been vandalized with horrible anti-Polish graffiti on the very doors I had only just gone through days before. And I read that someone had pushed hateful messages in both English and Polish through the doors of an elementary school. The trouble that that hateful person took to do it is the thing that disturbs me the most. He must have found a Polish translation of his hateful message and then he laminated the cards. They were laminated! Laminated hate. Against Poland. Or the idea of Poland. Or Polish people. Or the IDEA of Polish people. It is shocking in its mundanity. I cannot help but picture him in the printing shop, standing by the laminator, waiting for his message to emerge. Or, worse, maybe he works in a school. Somewhere with a laminator in the office and he used the school’s resources to print out his hateful message and then, what the heck! Laminate it. Perhaps while some small child stood by and watched and learned to hate.

They are of Norway, sir.

I have a friend from Norway. Before I met her I had no particular interest in going there but since I adore her, I assume I must adore her native land. This logic does not hold however. I’m not sure I am the perfect representative of my native land, for example. And if one were to judge my native land by Donald Trump, for example, I’m sure no one would want to go there.
But I suppose meeting someone from a land you’ve never thought of is a good way to begin the investigation and then you find out for yourself if the person is representative.

I will do’t, my lord.

I am going to be away for a rehearsal I was supposed to run and I found myself struggling with what to call the person I wanted to be in charge while I was gone. I searched and searched but in the end what felt most satisfactory was a military term. I went with Lieutenant. I felt like the lieu in it had a nice correlation with something being in lieu of something else. Also – the nice thing about military roles is that they are still imbued with authority. If someone is my lieutenant, they may be under me in authority but they still have quite palpable authority to those s/he’s leading.

What’s hilarious, though, about this preference for a military title, is how un-hierarchacal, un-regimented, un-authoritarian I actually want my processes to be. But maybe that’s why it’s funny. Because you never saw a less militaristic group ever.

Captain wouldn’t be as useful a word. Because without a military context, it could be the big big boss, the top banana. A lieutenant’s authority is both clearly subject to a higher authority and incredibly authoritative.