Thursday, April 21, 2016

Shakespeare in the Writers' Room - Totally True History of Stuff You Should Totally Believe, for Reals!

This is an installment in the occasional series Totally True History Stuff You Should Totally Believe for Reals! It is researched, written, curated and maintained by Beth D. Carter and me. You should totally believe everything here because it's totally true, for reals.

For years the television industry has kept the lid on what I’m about to reveal. Careers may be at stake and reputations irrevocably damaged by what I am about to share but, in the end, the truth is always better than a lie. The mistruths behind the television show Cheer must be brought into the light.

Scholars and television executives alike will deny this. They will call me a whack-job and smear my name. As I’ve researched this I and my family have been threatened but I remain committed to the cause. I will make public supportive evidence in coming weeks. Today, I only intend to present a brief summary of what I’ve found.

In order to understand the import of these facts, you need to be able to conceive how it’s even possible. The first time one hears that William Shakespeare wrote the ‘80’s sitcom, Cheers, it may seem like pure fiction. But that most unlikely of facts is 100% true.

At the original Globe, costume and set design took a lot longer than in today’s theaters. The time between act one, scene two and act one, scene three could be as much as 20 minutes. Shakespeare could see that his audience would get restless and many would wander away. Most plays ended with half the audience they started with.

So, under the pen name Christopher Marlowe, he wrote silly little 15 minute vignettes about clownish oafs who were hanging out in a pub. His actors for these little pieces were stage hands in their street clothes, sitting at the bar, talking and joking in base language. The little side stage never changed and the costumes didn't matter so it filled the time perfectly with no real extra effort.

Problem was the pub scenes became more popular than the plays. The situation flipped. People were bored, wandering around, starting fights during the proper play. They were waiting for the pub scenes and didn’t care about Henry V, Much Ado, Hamlet...

This infuriated Shakespeare so he buried the vignettes and tried to start a whisper campaign about that hack, Christopher Marlowe.

In 1958, archeologists unearthed the manuscripts in a wooded area near Kensington known as the James Burrows. Once they were cleaned up and transcribed, it became clear that what was once thought to be just a rumor was, in fact, reality. The CHristopher Marlowe William shakespEARE, or CHEARE, plays were real.

The stories were brushed up for the sitcom to be more modern but the actual dialogue remained true. More than 85% of the words said on Cheers were originally penned by the Bard himself.

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