The Lamentable Tragedy of the Duke of Palermo

Henry Chettle and William Shakespeare, discovered and transcribed by Homer R. Winslow, presented by Edmund Wilson


Professor Winslow’s living room at Hillsdale, a small New England college. A door at stage right of the back wall leads to the central hallway and the front door, and a door in the side wall at stage left leads to the Professor’s study, into which, though we do not see it, another door from the corridor gives access. The door into the hall is open. A fireplace in the center of the back wall. The room has been furnished in very good taste by the late Mrs. Winslow, a portrait of whom as a young girl hangs over the fireplace. On the table, in a silver frame, is a large photograph of her. The Professor’s nineteen-year-old daughter Fran is lounging in an arm-chair reading Mad magazine, with one shoe dangling from her toe. Chuck Chambers, a young instructor, enters from the door to the corridor. He looks more like a student than an instructor: corduroys, sneakers, a jersey, a bristling crew haircut.

FRAN (looking up but not rising or changing her position): Why didn’t you ring?

CHUCK: Your father’s always glad to see me.

FRAN: How do you know I am?

CHUCK: That doesn’t influence me. (Handling her a copy of Liberation.) If you can tear yourself away from that garbage, you might care to look at this. It’s got a firsthand account of Alabama. I suppose that we ought to have gone.

FRAN (taking the magazine): I see you’ve stopped cleaning your nails?

CHUCK: They’d just get dirty again.

FRAN: You’ve got more blackheads around your nose. You’re the most disgusting object on the campus.

CHUCK: That’s why I haven’t been around lately. I didn’t want to disgust you. Do you think I’m more disgusting than Spooky Simms?

FRAN: He at least wears a clean shirt.

CHUCK: Is that why you see so much of him?

FRAN: I don’t.

CHUCK: You went to the Middlebury game with him.

FRAN: I don’t want to get him against me. He’s trying to downgrade Father.

CHUCK: How can he? Your father’s got life tenure.

FRAN: They want him to teach Freshmen courses and give up his regular lectures.

CHUCK: Your father’s an institution. He’s been giving that Shakespeare course for years.

FRAN: But Spooky Simms is the head of the department, and he can dictate to most of the others.

CHUCK: I suppose they can’t stand having your father put on a successful show and divert attention from their goddam explications. I know that they think he’s a ham, and so in a way he is. But I can’t help respecting the old boy. Your father doesn’t give a damn about how much of a fool he makes of himself so long as he can put over good literature. When he used to give us Shelley’s Skylark, he’d flap his arms like this so you’d expect him to soar off the platform. (He demonstrates.)

“Hail to thee, blithe spirit!
Bird thou never wert”…

He’d act out…

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