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Minnesota Fringe/Account/Artist Show Information/Butts in Seats: How to Get People to Attend Your Shakespeare Production by Having Musical Settings for the Lyrics in His Plays. Numerous Examples Included.

Butts in Seats: How to Get People to Attend Your Shakespeare Production by Having Musical Settings for the Lyrics in His Plays. Numerous Examples Included.

By Ken Takata

Created by Ken Takata

Shakespeare’s plays contain over 70 lyrics, but most of the original music has been lost. Here we present musical settings in styles including the Great American Songbook and glam rock. (See more info & video.)
The creators say this show is appropriate for ages 12-15 and up
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Date Time Ticket Options Quantity Purchase
Thu 08/03 5:30 PM

Pre-sale closed Online sales end at 11:59pm the day before the show, or when 70% of the house is sold.

Sat 08/05 8:30 PM

Pre-sale closed Online sales end at 11:59pm the day before the show, or when 70% of the house is sold.

Sun 08/06 ASL 7:00 PM

Pre-sale closed Online sales end at 11:59pm the day before the show, or when 70% of the house is sold.

Sat 08/12 10:00 PM

Pre-sale closed Online sales end at 11:59pm the day before the show, or when 70% of the house is sold.

Sun 08/13 4:00 PM

Pre-sale closed Online sales end at 11:59pm the day before the show, or when 70% of the house is sold.

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Cast and Crew
Nota Bene

The shows are different with different lineups of performers and different songs. More information will be posted later about who will perform what material on which date. Cast and crew listed below in roughly alphabetical order. Venmo and Paypal information given for the performers where available. If you donate through the electronic tip jar on the website for this show and you specify where you'd like that tip to go, I can forward it as well.
Sarah Ellen Callahan
Venmo @Sarah-Callahan-50
Sophie Caplin
Venmo @Sophie-Caplin
Jennifer Eckes
Venmo @Jennifer-Eckes-1
Hadley Evans Nash
Venmo @Hadley-EN
Jenny Eisenbraun
Venmo @Jenny-Eisenbraun
Maud Hixson
Amanda Schnabel
PayPal: @AmandaSchnabel
Sarah Zuber
Venmo @sarahzuber
Ken Takata
Roadie and Patient Log-man, Understudy Stage Manager, Assistant Ghostwriter for Liner Notes and Grants
Email contact at jazzstandards2 . This is a gmail account.
Repository of Misc. Notes
1. "The musician is the most modest of all animals, but he is also the proudest. It is he who invented the sublime art of ruining poetry. --Erik Satie.................................................... 2. "If we shadows have offended, Think but this and all is mended:" --A Midsummer Night's Dream (5.1.440).................................................................................................................... 3. You have written truth, you friends of the “shadows,” yet be not harsh with “Krazy.” He is but a shadow himself, caught in the web of this mortal skein. We call him “Cat,” We call him “Crazy” Yet is he neither. At some time will he ride away to you, people of the twilight, his password will be the echoes of a vesper bell, his coach, a zephyr from the West. Forgive him, for you will understand him no better than we who linger on this side of the pale —George Herriman, Krazy Kat, June 17, 1917 .................................................................................................................................. 4."Now, divine air! Now is his soul ravished. Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should hale souls out of men’s bodies? Well, a horn for my money, when all’s done." -- Benedict explains why a theatrical production should have music although he is ultimately puzzled regarding the interior dynamics. Much Ado About Nothing (2.3.60)
More Information

If We Shadows Have Offended, A Midsummer Night's Dream

SongSLAM 2024

If We Shadows Have Offended, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


 If we shadows have offended,

 Think but this and all is mended:

 That you have but slumbered here

 While these visions did appear.

 And this weak and idle theme,

 No more yielding but a dream,

 Gentles, do not reprehend.

 If you pardon, we will mend.

 And, as I am an honest Puck,

 If we have unearnèd luck

 Now to ’scape the serpent’s tongue,

 We will make amends ere long.

 Else the Puck a liar call.

 So good night unto you all.

 Give me your hands, if we be friends,

 And Robin shall restore amends.



Third Post-Fringe show/event/workshop on November 4th (6-8pm) at Black Forest Inn

Address: 1 E 26th St, Minneapolis, MN 55404-4339  (Nicollet and 26th)

Everyone is invited.

Tips gratefully accepted

Venmo @takatajazz

Also see the green Dollar Sign icon at the top left hand corner of my Fringe show's website.  (It's next to the Heart icon and just below the picture/graphic for the show.) This is entirely  "pay what you wish".  These events are meant for those in theatre arts, and I understand that many in the field work at subsistence levels. If you don't have funds to contribute, that's perfectly fine.  If you can't contribute financially, what would be just as valuable would be a short note, sent to the email below, with your thoughts and comments about the show and this project and permission to quote from those remarks.  I'm applying for grants and community feedback is a vital part of the application process.

Contact info (email): 

jazzstandards2  This is a gmail account.

Videos regarding Sarah Stengle's wearable book art/costumes

Part 1 , 2, 3 , 4 , 5





Anyone willing to spend $16 on a relatively short, unknown show has every right to ask why that money should be spent on this show rather than on, let’s say, an overpriced cocktail.  These liner notes are meant to provide some explanation about 

1) what this show is about, 

2) whom it’s for, 

3) what it wants to do, and 

4) just how it intends to do that.


The glib answer is that it’s about 50 minutes in length, plus or minus some rounding error.  The reason is that I have to cart a bunch of musical equipment onto and, more importantly, OFF the stage in time for the next theatre company to prepare the stage for their production.  The maximum amount of time I’m allotted is one hour, but I have a lot of stuff to cart and currently no roadies.

As you might have surmised, musical equipment and music play in important role in the production.  The show consists of several original musical settings for the lyrics and speeches in Shakespeare’s plays, which include As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, Much Ado About Nothing, etc. You don’t have to know the plays.  There’ll be a two sentence plot synopsis and other relevant info.  

Here’s where I will invoke the equivalent of shouting in the context of formatting and note:


There may be some repeats, but I have much more material than can fit in one 50 minute set.  I’ll post more info on the performers and material as it develops. 

If you’re thinking about coming to a show, come to one of the earlier ones and see whether you like it. (Also, take a look at the video preview and some of the other links provided in this section to get a feel for the material in the show.) If you’re intrigued, you might want to see a couple of the shows because the material and the performers will be different.  

In general, the show is something of a cross between a cabaret, a music revue, and a theatre workshop.

Yes, I know, the last part may not sound that entertaining, but bear with me for a moment because it’s related to the next question, which is


There are several different audiences:

  1) People who like Shakespeare,

  2) People who don’t like Shakespeare or who are irritated by certain aspects of Shakespeare,

  3) People who are interested in “staging problems” that come up in theatre productions,

  4) People who like the Great American Songbook and musical theatre in general,

  5) People who are interested in the general question of how music fits into a theatrical production and can either propel it or sink it.

In particular, this show is meant for:

  6) People who are going to be involved in a production of Shakespeare as actors, directors, or in marketing.

It’s also meant for a general audience. (I’ve filled the show with tunes that are meant to be catchy. See the video preview to hear a track.)  At the same time, the show’s meant to be useful for those who are going to be mounting a Shakespeare production, including figuring out how to attract an audience and generate some interest.  

That’s a lot of people.  In fact, if you put together those in 1) and 2), it’s pretty much everybody so perhaps it makes sense to address the next question in case you’re still wondering whether you want to go to this show or get that overpriced cocktail.


Simply put, there are lots of “staging problems” that come up in mounting a Shakespeare production. The goal of the show is to identify a few of them (see below) and offer some simple, practical solutions. If this sounds vaguely like a youtube tutorial on fixing your refrigerator, bear with me for a moment, or at least let me describe some of the staging problems the show addresses.   These will address the last two questions, what does the show want to do and how does it intend to do that. In brief, the show is meant to propose solutions to problems that often come up in a Shakespeare production, some of which are: 

Problem #1: What music, if any, do you use in Shakespeare?

Shakespeare explicitly states that songs are supposed to be in his plays. There are over 70 lyrics throughout the plays. What do you do?

We don’t usually think of Shakespeare as being musical theatre, but there’s a lot of music in the plays.   In fact, there are over 70 designated lyrics in the plays, and that concerns just songs. The immediate problem is that with a couple of exceptions, we don’t know what the original music was, so the problem is what music do you use for these lyrics?

We could delete the lyrics, or if they are crucial to the plot (e.g., “Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred” from Merchant of Venice), we could just have the actors recite them, or we could slap together a few chords and string a melody over those like a recitative from an opera.

Look, I understand why this often happens.  It’s late in the game, the first show starts in two weeks, there wasn’t any budget to hire a pit orchestra, and the actor who claimed that he could play guitar actually can’t play guitar. Just get through the lyric as quickly as possible and be done with it.

At the same time, it’s a lost opportunity on several fronts (one of which includes marketing), and I’ll tell you why.

The twin engines of American musical theatre are 1) music and 2) dance.  This is what gets people to see shows and, as importantly, to see them again.  Is it possible to use these to propel a Shakespeare production? Given the title of this show--“Butts in Seats: How to Get People to Attend Your Shakespeare Production by Having Musical Settings for the Lyrics in His Plays”--you can probably guess what my answer is.  Let me connect the dots.

If you can set the lyric to a catchy melody, you can grab the audience’s attention in a way that you can’t with words alone.  Never underestimate how persistent an earworm can be.  That, in fact, is the point behind “The Willow Song” in Othello in which Desdemona obsesses about a tune she half-remembers.

Besides pulling an audience in, a catchy tune also offers a simple way to market a production. Use a short clip of the tune on social media, let’s say. The grand soliloquy may have the drama, but it’s hard to fit on a short clip.  You can do that with a catchy tune.  This addresses another real problem associated with producing Shakespeare, which is:

Problem #2 How do you market Shakespeare so that you can attract an audience?

It's at this point that I'm going to quote Benedict from Much Ado About Nothing (2.3.60) when he notes somewhat bemusedly, 

Now, divine air! Now is his soul

ravished. Is it not strange that sheeps’ guts should 

hale souls out of men’s bodies?

How exactly does this happen? Like Benedict, ours is not to wonder why, but I'm willing to take whatever tools I can. As the history of American musical theatre demonstrates, one surefire way to get a theatrical audience is through compelling music.  In terms of a Shakespeare production, the music needs to be inherently catchy.  Furthermore, it needs to fit the dramatic function at that point in the play, and, as importantly, it needs to be interesting for the actors to sing.

My show gives several examples of musical settings that were explicitly written to fit those three needs.  

The goal of these musical adaptations is to address one of the persistent, if not the most persistent, staging problem in Shakespeare.   In order to describe that, permit me a brief tangent.


The demand for some works of the performing arts comes primarily from the audience.  However, the demand for other works comes primarily from the practitioners.  The more I look at this, the more I'm convinced that Shakespeare falls very much into the second category.  That doesn't mean that the general audience isn't interested in Shakespeare.  What it means is the main reason that Shakespeare gets produced is that actors want to play these roles.  I think the reasons are practical and straightforward, but they also present difficulties for the audience.  A production needs to take that into account.

If you look at the situation from the standpoint of an actor who has to devote hours and hours to memorize lines, the front-and-center question would be how would you prefer to spend your time, memorizing some random play or Shakespeare?  What is less likely to bore you during the often tedious process of learning the lines and reciting them in weeks of rehearsals?

The answer is obvious.  The problem, though, is obvious as well.  What makes Shakespeare not boring after a hundred repetitions is what makes Shakespeare difficult for the audience, which is often hearing it for the first time.  The same intricacies of the language that keep it interesting are also what make it hard for an audience to follow.

And now we return to our main programming.

There are many solutions to this problem.  I'm going to suggest, as you might expect, music.   If the music serves the dramatic function of the scene, it can convey quickly the mood, which makes it easier for the audience to navigate the language.   To put it bluntly, catchy music gives the audience something to grab ahold of (even when they might not quite understand why they're interested).  That's important enough that I'm just to repeat it but in a loud voice.


Catchy music gives the audience something to grab ahold of.

This is really something to keep in mind given the situation that exists for theatre currently.   The word of that keeps on being bandied about is "existential".  Everything nowadays is existential, which can make the word seem trite, but it's a legitimate point to make that for many theatre companies, the crisis is existential.   Here's a very long (~13,000 word) article, so long in fact that it may be longer than my "more information" section, Theatre in Crisis: What We're Losing and What Comes Next, that discusses how dire the situation is for many companies that have failed to regain their audiences since the pandemic started in 2020.   The article also notes that this seems to be a particular problem that theatre has by making the comparison that attendance at music performances has recovered significantly better than theatre.   This, of course, raises two questions, 1) why this is so and 2) can we borrow anything from standard music performances to help theatre regain its audiences?

As you might expect, I have opinions about the why, and as you also might expect, I will now inflict them on you.  The why has to do, I think, with the fact that audiences for music performances have a fairly good idea what they are going to see and hear in a performance.  They may not know the exact set list, but they know when, for example, they go to see Taylor Swift, that she will be a large number of songs that they know and that she will be presenting herself in a way that they know somewhat.   All an audience has to do is look through a few videos of previous gigs, maybe from the last tour.  That will give you a pretty good idea.  Musicians also have an advantage here in that their art form fits pretty nicely into the way social media works.  You have a short clip, maybe three minutes, which is by default, the length of a pop song, that you post to your favorite video hosting entity or social media account.  People can hear you in action.   The consumer is informed.

To a significant extent, this doesn't happen in theatre at least not to the same degree.  Yes, you may know the play backwards and forwards, but you often don't have a short, little clip of the play in action...unless, unless you have a short, little clip of, let's say, a song from that play.

You can see where I'm going with this.   The point is to draw upon the way in which music performers get the word out about their work and apply that to a theatrical performance.    


Besides the general problem of promoting and marketing a Shakespeare production, there is another problem that my settings are meant to address.  It’s both a marketing problem and a staging problem.  

Problem #3: How, if at all, do you address the relative lack of gender diversity in Shakespeare?

Only 16% of the text in Shakespeare is spoken by female characters. 

Keep this in mind the next time you attend a theatre performance and estimate the demographics of the audience.  There is a big discrepancy between the demographics of the dramatis personae and of the audience.  There are several possible “solutions”.

  a) One is to sweep it under the rug and ignore the discrepancy.  

  b) Another is to add new text and characters so that there’s more gender parity.  This is actually not as uncommon as one might expect.  Especially recently, there have been lots of Shakespeare-adjacent productions (e.g., Hamnet, Jane Anger, Emelia) that use some of Shakespeare’s words to create a fundamentally new work.

  c) One can cast women to play male roles.

There is another approach that this show proposes and that is:

Use musical settings to shift the focus on the female characters.  The technique is simple.  Musical settings generally slow down the action.  They also frequently make use of repeated phrases, and they focus the audience’s attention on the character singing.

This approach is essentially the analog of the lighting designer putting a spotlight on a particular character but doing it with music instead.  In addition, this approach works without adding any new text and characters so what you have is really a Shakespeare play.

How, you might ask, did my show develop a focus on these sorts of texts? It wasn’t directly done to solve this particular staging problem, per se, although that’s always been in the back of my mind. It began when listening to a BBC podcast, My Own Shakespeare  in which the novelist, Margaret Drabble. pointed out a particularly important passage for her, which is Titania’s speech to Oberon in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2.1.84-120).  Because the play is often used as the one work to introduce children to Shakespeare, this speech, which doesn’t fit in well with the potions, fairies, and romantic shenanigans side of the play, doesn’t get emphasized, but as Drabble mentions, there’s a lot going on.  (Ref: )

Titania complains bitterly to Oberon that he is abusing his supernatural powers to create havoc through the environment. Usually in productions, the emphasis is on Oberon’s own formula for Love Potion #9, but the extent of his meddling goes much farther and has a much more sinister tone. Titania’s speech is the one place in Shakespeare that explicitly mentions climate change.  Furthermore, he uses weather, specifically the clouds and vapors, to introduce by metaphor contagious diseases spreading throughout the land. What more could you want from a play from the 1590s?  Climate change and a pandemic, thrown in for extra measure. You can’t make a better argument for relevance than that.

The administrators at Fringe Fest have not placed a word limit on this “more information” section so with that in mind, I see no reason why I can’t quote the entire passage.

These are the forgeries of jealousy;

And never, since the middle summer’s spring,

Met we on hill, in dale, forest, or mead,

By pavèd fountain or by rushy brook,

Or in the beachèd margent of the sea,

To dance our ringlets to the whistling wind,

But with thy brawls thou hast disturbed our sport.

Therefore the winds, piping to us in vain,

As in revenge have sucked up from the sea

Contagious fogs, which, falling in the land,

Hath every pelting river made so proud

That they have overborne their continents.

The ox hath therefore stretched his yoke in vain,

The plowman lost his sweat, and the green corn

Hath rotted ere his youth attained a beard.

The fold stands empty in the drownèd field,

And crows are fatted with the murrain flock.

The nine-men’s-morris is filled up with mud,

And the quaint mazes in the wanton green,

For lack of tread, are undistinguishable.

The human mortals want their winter here.

No night is now with hymn or carol blessed.

Therefore the moon, the governess of floods,

Pale in her anger, washes all the air,

That rheumatic diseases do abound.

And thorough this distemperature we see

The seasons alter: hoary-headed frosts

Fall in the fresh lap of the crimson rose,

And on old Hiems’ thin and icy crown

An odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds

Is, as in mockery, set. The spring, the summer,

The childing autumn, angry winter, change

Their wonted liveries, and the mazèd world

By their increase now knows not which is which.

And this same progeny of evils comes

From our debate, from our dissension;

We are their parents and original. 


My setting for this, “The Mazèd World”, will be performed at some of the shows.

(The text comes from the Folger edition at  )

Getting back to the main topic, there I am, mulling over how I can set this speech to music, which is tricky for a couple of reasons, one being its length and the second that it has no rhymes. As I’m doing this, a couple of thoughts occur to me.  The first is that if you expand this composition project from setting just the lyrics to any possible text in Shakespeare, the available material multiplies by about a thousand fold.  (In addition, the material not in the lyrics is generally much stronger than the writing in the lyrics.  For the most part, it’s where the drama happens.) But the other thing that occurred to me is that if one focuses deliberately on the text delivered by female characters, one often gets a new perspective on the material.

I don’t know why specifically Shakespeare had Titania deliver these words although from a sort of structuralist standpoint, you can see why. He establishes Oberon as the patriarchal King of the Fairies.  There’s some sort of crisis.  The obvious character to rebut Oberon’s policies is the Queen of the Fairies. Why exactly, though, she would give this type of speech that links together the environment and contagious diseases is unknown. 

Whatever the reason, the main point I want to make is that you get to this perspective if you focus on what the female characters are saying.  That’s how this aspect of the project started.   There are other examples.  Again, since I apparently don’t have a word limit, why not provide at least one more?

In most productions of the great forest comedy, As You Like It, the emphasis is on the inevitable (whoops, spoiler alert) marriage of Rosalind and Orlando.  This satisfies the romcom-esque requirements of the genre of that time (as well as ours).  As Emma Smith has pointed out, if there’s a heroine in a comedy who isn’t married at the start of the play, you can bet that she will be by the end whether she want to be (Rosalind) or not (Olivia in Twelfth Night). (See her podcasts, Approaching Shakespeare, which are essentially transcripts of lectures she delivered at Oxford.)  This is the more formulaic part of the play. It’s important, no doubt, but—of course, you can see where I’m going with this—it’s the less formulaic parts of the play that we might want to explore. How can we do this?  One way is to focus on the less formulaic relationships in a play, in other words, not the front-and-center romance between Rosalind and Orlando but between, let’s say, the friendship between Celia and Rosalind.  Because this doesn’t fit in with the inevitable marriage that must occur, it’s more contingent, and what the characters say takes on more the quality of something that could be said but also might not ever be said. The characters are not necessarily destined to have this relationship because of the conventions of the form.  For that reason, Rosalind's and Celia's friendship has a different feel.

Here’s a quick plot summary up to the speech I want to mention, a speech that I’ve set to music.

Rosalind’s father, Duke Senior, has been exiled by Duke Frederick, who is Celia’s father.  Duke Senior then decides to exile Rosalind.  Celia offers to renounce her inheritance to accompany Rosalind in exile. Here’s the dialogue.


O my poor Rosalind, whither wilt thou go?

Wilt thou change fathers? I will give thee mine.

I charge thee, be not thou more grieved than I am.

ROSALIND  I have more cause.

CELIA  Thou hast not, cousin.

Prithee, be cheerful. Know’st thou not the Duke

Hath banished me, his daughter?

ROSALIND  That he hath not.


No, hath not? Rosalind lacks then the love

Which teacheth thee that thou and I am one.

Shall we be sundered? Shall we part, sweet girl?

No, let my father seek another heir.

Therefore devise with me how we may fly,

Whither to go, and what to bear with us,

And do not seek to take your change upon you,

To bear your griefs yourself and leave me out.

For, by this heaven, now at our sorrows pale,

Say what thou canst, I’ll go along with thee.

ROSALIND  Why, whither shall we go?


To seek my uncle in the Forest of Arden.


Alas, what danger will it be to us,

Maids as we are, to travel forth so far?

Beauty provoketh thieves sooner than gold.


I’ll put myself in poor and mean attire,

And with a kind of umber smirch my face.

The like do you. So shall we pass along

And never stir assailants.


Note, by the way, the sort of contingency here in the scene.  It’s not a foregone conclusion that Celia would go with Rosalind.  In Twelfth Night, Viola must venture to a new territory entirely by herself. This could have been written with Rosalind fending for herself alone.  The fact that the dialogue didn’t have to happen means that its lines actually reflect not convention but what the characters, and specifically Celia, really think.

Because the scene doesn’t have to occur, it may be the purest expression of friendship in the play but because it is relatively brief, it often doesn’t receive the attention that I think it should.  

Before I get to a possible solution for this, I need to make a tangential comment about the film adaptation of Dan Clowes’ comic strip, Ghost World.  In the original, the focus is almost entirely on the friendship between Rebecca and Enid.  In the film adaptation, the focus gets shifted to a relationship between Enid and Seymour.   Somewhere along the line, prompted by Terry Zwigoff’s personal interests, the great Delta bluesman Skip James becomes a central figure.  

Look, I love Zwigoff’s documentaries on Crumb and Howard Armstrong and I love Skip James, but I just disagree with the way he shifted the emphasis in his adaptation. The interesting stuff is happening in the friendship between Rebecca and Enid or in the mundane but mysterious crevices of the original comic strip. (Clowes said that the title came to him as graffiti that he saw on Division Street in Chicago.   I know that street, and I’ve probably walked nearby where that graffiti used to be.  It’s unclear to me what Division has to do with Ghost World, but that’s okay.)

For years, I’ve been carrying around this sort of dissatisfaction about the way Ghost World was adapted.  That’s probably why I wrote the musical setting that I did for this scene from As You Like It, which slows down this dialogue, repeats some phrases and focuses our attention on the true import of what Celia is saying.  On one sense I wrote this musical setting to restore Ghost World back to its original form, not that that really makes any rational sense, but again, that’s okay.

There are three different settings that I’ve composed.  These will be scattered throughout the five shows.

On a wider note, there’s a much more general notion at play here, and it’s the idea that the interesting things in Shakespeare may not be the front and center concerns.  I make the argument both above and in my musical setting that it’s not the Rosalind and Orlando wedding that makes As You Like It intriguing but things that are off to the sides.

I would make a similar claim about Cymbeline. The central character seems to be the eponymous one.  After all, the play is titled after him, and he’s the king of Britain so he’s got to be important “by definition”, and the central relationship, if we follow the appropriate protocol should be the one between the central heroine, Imogen (Cymbeline’s daughter), and Posthumus.  

Following Emma Smith’s dictum, Imogen must be married to Posthumus before the play is done, but by this necessity, the relationship takes on a more perfunctory quality. It’s the relationship between Imogen and her long-lost siblings, Guiderius and Arvirargus, that is may be more interesting because it is actually contingent.   There’s no guarantee that they will meet again or that they will form an alliance.  This is what gives the emotional heft to a scene in which Guiderius and Arvirargus think that Imogen has died.  Here’s the first stanza of the song they sing:

GUIDERIUS, as Polydor 

Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone and ta’en thy wages.

Golden lads and girls all must,

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.


Cymbeline (4.2.331)


I particularly like this lyric because it seems like the closest he got to William Blake.  The musical question is how to set this.  The obvious choice would be a minor key, but I decided to go against convention and write it in a major key.  An arrangement was used in Brick by Brick Players’ staging of Cymbeline in 2022.  This tune will be performed at the 2023 Fringe Fest with some additional Baroque ornamentation in the repeat. That’s all I’m going to say.  You’ll just have to attend to hear the rest.


At this point, the reader may recognize that these liner notes exceed the length of both several scenes in the plays and many, typical grant applications.   With that in mind, we refer the reader to the actual production for more details.


The image is from Robert Fludd’s Utriusque Cosmi, Maioris scilicet et Minoris, metaphysica, physica, atque technica Historia (1617–1626).  Fludd was a contemporary of Shakespeare.   One of his images in Ars Memoria is thought to be an image of the Globe Theatre.  The illustrations are by Matthäus Merian and Johann de Bry.


There are many entities I’d like to thank.  I must thank the Fringe Fest for assistance provided on many occasions, but most of all for not imposing a word count on this section.  Thanks also the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council as well as the MN State Arts Board. This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council and also the MN State Arts Board, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund. 

Some of this material was developed in conjunction with Brick by Brick Players and Hadley Evans Nash.

In addition, I would like to thank my luthier, Deb Huke.  For practical purposes, keyboards rather than guitars were used in the production of this show.  Having said that, I would note that support from Deb on my Shakespeare project was crucial to its development, particularly as the pandemic developed.  Deb received a 2014-2015 Artist’s Initiative Grant from the MN State Arts Board to restore guitars built in Minnesota over one hundred years ago.  I purchased one the instruments she restored, a Paul Benson, dated approximately from the 1890s.  Her example as well as advice helped me on my own grant applications and, as crucially, on the decision to pursue much more extensive projects such as the Shakespeare adaptations that make up this show.  This proved to be essential during the pandemic when, as we all know, all in-person gigs disappeared.  The only musical projects that were available to me were a study of the Great American Songbook and composing settings for Shakespeare’s plays.  The project you see is the product of those circumstances and the isolation imposed by that pandemic.

Deb died in the interim period between submitting my application to Fringe and winning a spot in the lottery so, although she knew it was on my list of possible performances, she did not know the outcome.  She would have been one of the first individuals I would have told about winning the Fringe lottery had she been around given her importance in encouraging the project.  An interview with her on her last guitar build is at: .


Transcript of Lyrics for August 6th, 2023 Show

Fringe 2023-08-06


Fear No More

Fear no more the heat o’ th’ sun,

  Nor the furious winter’s rages;

 Thou thy worldly task hast done,

  Home art gone and ta’en thy wages.

 Golden lads and girls all must,

 As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

ARVIRAGUS, as Cadwal

 Fear no more the frown o’ th’ great;

  Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke.

 Care no more to clothe and eat;

  To thee the reed is as the oak.

 The scepter, learning, physic must

 All follow this and come to dust.


Willow, Willow

DESDEMONA, singing

 The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,

  Sing all a green willow.

 Her hand on her bosom, her head on her knee,

  Sing willow, willow, willow.

 The fresh streams ran by her and murmured her


  Sing willow, willow, willow;

 Her salt tears fell from her, and softened the


Lay by these.

  Sing willow, willow, willow.

Prithee hie thee! He’ll come anon.

 Sing all a green willow must be my garland.

 Let nobody blame him, his scorn I approve.

Nay, that’s not next. Hark, who is ’t that knocks?

EMILIA  It’s the wind.


 I called my love false love, but what said he then?

  Sing willow, willow, willow.

 If I court more women, you’ll couch with more




And Will He Not Come Again, Hamlet

And will he not come again?

 And will he not come again?

  No, no, he is dead.

  Go to thy deathbed.

 He never will come again.


 His beard was as white as snow,

 All flaxen was his poll.

  He is gone, he is gone,

  And we cast away moan.

 God ’a mercy on his soul.


Celia’s speech to Rosalind, As You Like It


O my poor Rosalind, whither wilt thou go?

Wilt thou change fathers? I will give thee mine.

I charge thee, be not thou more grieved than I am.

ROSALIND  I have more cause.

CELIA  Thou hast not, cousin.

Prithee, be cheerful. Know’st thou not the Duke

Hath banished me, his daughter?

ROSALIND  That he hath not.


No, hath not? Rosalind lacks then the love

Which teacheth thee that thou and I am one.

Shall we be sundered? Shall we part, sweet girl?

No, let my father seek another heir.

Therefore devise with me how we may fly,

Whither to go, and what to bear with us,

And do not seek to take your change upon you,

To bear your griefs yourself and leave me out.

For, by this heaven, now at our sorrows pale,

Say what thou canst, I’ll go along with thee.


Tell Me Where Is Fancy Bred, Merchant of Venice

A song the whilst Bassanio comments on

the caskets to himself.


   Tell me where is fancy bred,

 Or in the heart, or in the head?

 How begot, how nourishèd?

 Reply, reply.

 It is engendered in the eye,

 With gazing fed, and fancy dies

 In the cradle where it lies.

 Let us all ring fancy’s knell.

 I’ll begin it.—Ding, dong, bell.

ALL   Ding, dong, bell.


Caliban, The Tempest


Be not afeard. The isle is full of noises,

Sounds and sweet airs that give delight and hurt not.

Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments

Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices

That, if I then had waked after long sleep,

Will make me sleep again; and then, in dreaming,

The clouds methought would open, and show riches

Ready to drop upon me, that when I waked

I cried to dream again.

Sigh No More, Ladies, Much Ado About Nothing

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,

  Men were deceivers ever,

 One foot in sea and one on shore,

  To one thing constant never.

 Then sigh not so, but let them go,

  And be you blithe and bonny,

 Converting all your sounds of woe

  Into Hey, nonny nonny.


 Sing no more ditties, sing no mo,

  Of dumps so dull and heavy.

 The fraud of men was ever so,

  Since summer first was leavy.


Blow, Blow, Thou Winter Wind, As You Like It

Blow, blow, thou winter wind.

  Thou art not so unkind

   As man’s ingratitude.

  Thy tooth is not so keen,

  Because thou art not seen,

   Although thy breath be rude.

 Heigh-ho, sing heigh-ho, unto the green holly.

 Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.

   Then heigh-ho, the holly.

   This life is most jolly.


  Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,

  That dost not bite so nigh

   As benefits forgot.

  Though thou the waters warp,

  Thy sting is not so sharp

   As friend remembered not.

 Heigh-ho, sing heigh-ho, unto the green holly.

 Most friendship is feigning, most loving mere folly.

   Then heigh-ho, the holly.

   This life is most jolly.


Under the Greenwood Tree, As You Like It

Under the greenwood tree

  Who loves to lie with me

  And turn his merry note

  Unto the sweet bird’s throat,

 Come hither, come hither, come hither.

   Here shall he see

   No enemy

 But winter and rough weather.

JAQUES  More, more, I prithee, more.

AMIENS  It will make you melancholy, Monsieur


JAQUES  I thank it. More, I prithee, more. I can suck

melancholy out of a song as a weasel sucks eggs.

More, I prithee, more.

AMIENS  My voice is ragged. I know I cannot please you.

JAQUES  I do not desire you to please me. I do desire

you to sing. Come, more, another stanzo. Call you

’em “stanzos”?

AMIENS  What you will, Monsieur Jaques.

JAQUES  Nay, I care not for their names. They owe me

nothing. Will you sing?

AMIENS  More at your request than to please myself.

JAQUES  Well then, if ever I thank any man, I’ll thank

you. But that they call “compliment” is like th’

encounter of two dog-apes. And when a man thanks

me heartily, methinks I have given him a penny and

he renders me the beggarly thanks. Come, sing. And

you that will not, hold your tongues.

AMIENS  Well, I’ll end the song.—Sirs, cover the while;

the Duke will drink under this tree.—He hath been

all this day to look you.

JAQUES  And I have been all this day to avoid him. He is

too disputable for my company. I think of as many

matters as he, but I give heaven thanks and make no

boast of them. Come, warble, come.




ALL together here.

  Who doth ambition shun

  And loves to live i’ th’ sun,

  Seeking the food he eats

  And pleased with what he gets,

 Come hither, come hither, come hither.

   Here shall he see

   No enemy

 But winter and rough weather.

JAQUES  I’ll give you a verse to this note that I made

yesterday in despite of my invention.

AMIENS  And I’ll sing it.

JAQUES  Thus it goes:

  If it do come to pass

  That any man turn ass,

  Leaving his wealth and ease

  A stubborn will to please,

 Ducdame, ducdame, ducdame.

   Here shall he see

   Gross fools as he,

 An if he will come to me.


You Spotted Snakes, A Midsummer Night’s Dream


 You spotted snakes with double tongue,

  Thorny hedgehogs, be not seen.

 Newts and blindworms, do no wrong,

  Come not near our Fairy Queen.


  Philomel, with melody

  Sing in our sweet lullaby.

 Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.

  Never harm

  Nor spell nor charm

 Come our lovely lady nigh.

 So good night, with lullaby.


 Weaving spiders, come not here.

  Hence, you long-legged spinners, hence.

 Beetles black, approach not near.

  Worm nor snail, do no offence.


  Philomel, with melody

  Sing in our sweet lullaby.

 Lulla, lulla, lullaby, lulla, lulla, lullaby.

  Never harm

  Nor spell nor charm

 Come our lovely lady nigh.

 So good night, with lullaby.


Pardon, Goddess of the Night, Much Ado About Nothing


 Pardon, goddess of the night,

 Those that slew thy virgin knight,

 For the which with songs of woe,

 Round about her tomb they go.

  Midnight, assist our moan.

  Help us to sigh and groan

   Heavily, heavily.

  Graves, yawn and yield your dead,

  Till death be utterèd,

   Heavily, heavily.



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