N ews item: After weeks of haggling over whether to give city money to the annual Grove Shakespeare Festival, Garden Grove Mayor J. Tilman Williams reversed his opposition this week, casting his swing vote with councilmen Milton Krieger and W.E. (Walt) Donovan in favor of the subsidy.
Williams parted with his former allies, councilmen Raymond T. Littrell and Robert F. Dinsen, who opposed the expenditure on grounds that Shakespeare is too sophisticated for Garden Grove's "hard-hat" community, and that the city budget would be more wisely allocated to the Police Department and elsewhere.
The council, however, also voted to phase out the city subsidy over the next three years.
In light of these events, Grove artistic director Thomas F. Bradac and board spokesman Robert C. Dunek may wish to consider staging the following modest, newly discovered "lost work" by the Bard.
THE COMEDY OF AIRHEADS
King Tilman of Williams, ruler of the Grove
Lord Raymond of Littrell, the man who would be King
Robert, Duke of Dinsen, noble and ally of Lord Raymond
Milton, Duke of Krieger, friend of poets and actors, foe to the King, Lord Raymond and Duke Robert.
Walt, Duke of Donovan, ally of Duke Milton
Sir Thomas of Bradac, a regular guy
Sir Robert of Dunek, another regular guy
SCENE--The Kingdom of the Grove
Scene I.--The castle. The royal meeting chamber.
Enter King Tilman, Lord Raymond, Dukes Milton, Walt and Robert of Dinsen.
Raymond: My liege! 'Tis rumor'd throughout the land that you would bow before a pitiable band of actors from the grove. If that be true, I beg you--reconsider. The nobles in your kingdom care not for the masquerades of such vipers. What do they to protect your kingdom from attack? With their words do they frighten away the barbarians who would plunder our lands? With their costumes do they clothe our lords and ladies? With their purses do they reward the guards ever watchful at our borders?
No, these ignoble knaves do rob us behind our backs. Long have we granted them gold, yet they do mock us and deliver the fruits borne of our seed not only to the people of the grove, but to the eyes and ears of enemies from foreign shores.
King: Were that we not forced to argue o'er such trifles, but were free to talk of vital things, as commerce and glorious campaigns. Yet, it is not to be. Many threats have I heard from those who would depose your King over this matter. I fear, Lord Raymond, our fate may not play out as you like it.
Robert of Dinsen: Ay, liege, heed the words of Lord Raymond. What twist of honor causes thou, noble King, to offer livelihood to these charlatans? Prithee give it no further thought, sire. The curs should earn their keep, as do farmer, cobbler and miller.
King: Mayhaps there is reason in your charges. What say you, Milton--do we make much ado about nothing?
Milton: Nay, nay, fair King, hear me, 'tis truth I speak.
What of your subjects, would we forget them?
Though farmer tends his crops from sun to set
And cobbler works his shoes from day to night
And miller toils o'er grain without respite
Is not there more to life than plowing fields?
Yea, more than soles and nails or wheat and rye?
What of the heart, the mind at end of day?
'Tis there lies the importance of the play.
King: Pray listen, gentle friends, honorable counsel. For long days, we have suffered the ravages of this tempest that pits knave against lord, son against sire, subject against king. True, these actors and poets beseech our golden temper, and, moreso, our golden coin. It does cause me great unrest, for Duke Milton and Duke Walt do speak eloquently on their behalf; yet Lord Raymond and Duke Robert, who have earned my favor in many a battle past, speak as strongly against. But this day, an answer comes to your good King. I side with the players. For I have heard the wrathful voice of my people, a voice that urges compliance lest I place my kingdom--yea, my throne!--in jeopardy.
Walt: O honorable King, you choose the right!
Retire with us to banquet hall for toast
For verily as King you are the most!
King: But hear me! As it is done today, it shall not be in years ahead. Though heed my subjects' will in this I must, I do not turn deaf ear to loyal friends. So I decree, three summers hence, no more shall the actors of the grove find aid in King's gold. Let the word be spread!
Exeunt the King and Dukes, leaving Raymond alone.
Raymond : Venomous snakes! Loathsome demons all! They, with wills of tin, would yield and throw away the kindgom's troth without a care. Unwise King shall live to rue this day; yea, he will know God's wounds, for as the summer fades and fall ensues, my allies gather. No later than November, I vow to wrest the crown and take it in my righteous hands.
Scene II. A hamlet in the grove. Main Street.
Enter Sir Thomas , Sir Robert of Dunek and messenger .
Messenger: Be it known this day that King and court bestow their royal smile and consent the kingdom's gold to the actors of the grove. . . . Be it known this day. . . .
Thomas: Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this King so wise
And all the clouds that lower'd upon our stage
In the deep bosom of the or'nge grove buried.
Now are our banks filled with bountiful checks;
Our hardened hats hung up for monuments;
Our stern fund-raisers chang'd to merry meetings,
Our dreadful pitches to delightful praises.
Grim-visaged war hath smooth'd his wrinkled front.
Robert of Dunek : Indeed, 'tis time for all to celebrate
Judicious King we raise our glass in cheer.
Good King, great King, although not greatly good,
Has heard our cry and acts the greater good.
Against allies, his very throne imperil'd
Bold King recants, that theater may live.