Cobweb describes the modern retirement of the fairy made famous by William Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It is framed in nine stanzas of trochaic octometer.
I’ve always been fascinated by the death of legend. What happens to the ensemble of lore after we have forgotten them? Do they adapt or become something new or fade away? What happens to gods and goblins after their adventures are over?
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is my favorite Shakespeare play. I remember the moment it carved a place in my soul. I had seen the play several times already, and certainly I liked it. But it was a winter night, at a college auditorium I can no longer recall, that I fell irreversibly in love with it.
The fairies were modern divas, the set was something between Tron and Candyland, and Puck spent most of his time mischievously roaming the audience. It dazzled me. I laughed from a sincere place of joy, and remember the sentiment of being so viscerally moved forever after.
On a beautiful autumn afternoon, while drafting Cobweb, I was paid a visit by the Countess of Salisbury, Margaret Plantagenet Pole, played the wonderful and enigmatic K. Tony Korol-Evans, my dear friend, at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. She wore for the role, a gorgeous “eggplant” Tudor gown—eggplant, because purple is reserved only for the royal family, mind—and a head piece she wryly referred to as “the gable”. My booth is located on the boardwalk and, luckily, her then-route brought her my way every afternoon.
She demanded, in her hilarious, high-brow theatre bellow, to know what it was I was writing. I gave it to her. She skimmed the page briefly, glanced at me with sharp, startled blue eyes, and asked me quietly if she might read it aloud. I nodded and she, angling in the corner of the booth so passersby might hear, recited the raw stanzas.
I do not remember if anyone paid any attention. But I remember acutely the thrill of hearing my lines called out by a professional actor. It was an extraordinary moment, and one I will always treasure.
The Maryland Renaissance Festival produced A Midsummer Night’s Dream that year by their talented and renowned cast and crew. Each act was presented on a different stage of the grounds. For my birthday, I built a pub crawl around the schedule of the production. Needless to say, I did not make the final act. I spent that time recovering.
In any event, the Countess asked for a copy of Cobweb, even in its unrefined state, to gift to the actor who played the fairy Cobweb in the production. I acquiesced excitedly, printing it off for her with a little artwork on the fly. I hope she liked it. I hope you enjoy it too.
You can find Cobweb here.
K. Tony Korol-Evans can be found on Facebook through MDRF Cakes & Ale. If you happen to be in town in the fall, check out her show at the Maryland Renaissance Festival!
If you like the theme of legend struggling in the modern era, let me suggest Neil Gaiman’s American Gods. I quite liked it. And the show is worth checking out too. It expands on the ideas narrated in the original literature, is well cast, and Ricky Whittle is smoking hot.
What’s your favorite Shakespeare? Have you read or seen American Gods? What did you think of Cobweb? I would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions!