All The World's A Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare, by John Reed

Rights

Inquiries as to reprint should be directed to Penguin/Plume.

Theatrical rights have been reserved by the author. Performance rights are granted free of charge, by permission, to non-professional, not-for-profit, educational, and low-budget theater. Inquiries about performance permission or other matters should be directed to: 

john (@) johnreed.org

or 

easyreeder (@) gmail.com


Scenes for Actors

Iago & Hamlet—Act 1, Scene I

Hamlet monologue—Act 1, Scene II

Juliet & Hamlet—Act 1, Scene IV

Lear monologue—Act 3, Scene II

Iago & Lear—Act 3, Scene VI

Macbeth & Witches—Act 4, Scene VI, or in the Brooklyn Rail  

Queen & Macbeth—Act 4, Scene VII

Queen monologue—Act 4, Scene VII


Endnotes

The endnotes are organized by act and line number, as keyed to the Penguin/Plume edition.  They reference the provenance of each line, notable meter, and scene locations.   


The Quartos

There are currently four quarto versions, cut for the stage.  Lengths (at 10,000 words per hour):

 5,000 words: selection

 8,000 words: selection

14,400 words: Quarto 3

17,400 words: Quarto 1 (10,000 words shorter than the Penguin/Plume edition).

PENGUIN/PLUME—

What it is: the known works of W.S., reconstructed, line by line, into a new tragedy, starring Hamlet, Juliet & Romeo, Iago, Macbeth, The Queen, Three Weird Sisters, Rosencrantz & Guidenstern, and the Ghost of the King.

The story: Hamlet goes to war for Juliet, the daughter of King Lear.  Having captured his bride—by unnecessary bloodshed—Prince Hamlet returns home to find that his mother has murdered his father and married Macbeth.  Hamlet, wounded and reeling, is sought out by the ghost of his murdered further, and commanded to seek revenge.  Iago, opportunistic, further inflames theenraged Prince, persuading him that Juliet is having an affair with Romeo; the Prince goes mad with jealousy.

The issues engendered: War, parody, the question of what is authorship, sex and exploitation, the current Shakespeare fracas, the long history of Shakespeare adaptations, Shakespeare and Hollywood, the Public Domain, the literary canon, the state of contemporary letters in relation to “great” works, the creative future we bequeath our children.


I had just decided to name my new play “A Year Without Shakespeare,” to express my weariness with the recurring unimaginative return again and again to the Bard. Then I came upon John Reed’s NEW/old play, and I feel fired up! What a dramatic re-imagination is herein offered us! —Richard Foreman

The literary trick of the year! —Page 6, New York Post

I can’t quite believe “All The World’s A Grave”: such an original idea. —Ian McKellen

It’s a shrewd, gutsy remix that brings the conscience of Shakespeare to our troubled times. —Spalding Gray 

In All The World’s A Grave, Reed is a director, an orchestrator, and an assembler taking what was present to work with, and making one brand new Reed/Shakespeare partnership play. He says it’s a Shakespeare play, but really it’s a Reed. How could it not be? Reed does to Shakespeare what Shakespeare did to himself. However, this is part of his big question, his radical literary populism, asking where is the author now, where lies the genius ? ... It is at once an act of homage and conquest. —Jordan A. Rothacker, The Believer

An inspired bit of bricolage ... This “remix version” of Shakespeare proves fascinating and entertaining. Reed clearly loves the Bard. His pastiche contains many of Shakespeare’s best passages, which are always a delight to reread. More impressive, though, Reed fashions from this familiar material a story containing enough surprises to delight even those well versed in the Bard. —Jack Helbig, Booklist 

What's destabilizing—and often wildly comical—is not just the rude mash-up of characters and settings violently plucked from their canonical sources but the way in which the power of Shakespeare's language flickers uneasily, surging and hissing and fizzing out only to revive and fade again as the words play against their new contexts. —Christianity Today, Favorite Books of 2008 

We haven’t experienced this much haughtiness since college! —Timeout New York

A proven Thomas Edison ... sophisticated fun. —Allan Jalon, Huffington Post

An absolute feast of Shakespeare remixed, reborn, and given a freshness I didn't expect--and it's somehow seamless in the re-appropriation for this new narrative. —Sustainable Arts Foundation

Reed caramelizes the Bard’s plays into a great and terrifying world ... a dizzying feat of writing and scholarship, and uncannily contemporary in its brew of constant trouble. —Lynne Tillman

This is the Frankenstein's monster of Shakespearean tragedy. It raises the Artistotelian emotions of pity and fear to a new level as the audience agonizes over the uncertainty of which catharsis John Reed's play is heading toward. —William S. Niederkorn

Reed has brought music's remix culture to literature with stunning results. —David Gutowski, largeheartedboy

All the World’s a Grave alerted the world to a timbre of postmodern genius never before seen in American letters. —Rami Shamir, Evergreen Review

This send-up of the bard is both new yet familiar; by using a literary form of montage, Reed plays with our understanding of some of the best known characters from Shakespeare's oeuvre and creates a work that is eerie in its timeliness. —Finn Harvor, Rain Taxi 

The language is Shakespeare's, but the drama that unfolds is as fresh as the blood on the stage. —Fictionwise

The resulting story is both familiar and fresh, and the characters are energized and enlightened. Reed’s juxtaposition allows him to give added depth and dimension to characters. ..  Shakespeare fans can expect classics, like Hamlet’s “to be or not to be” soliloquy or Lady Macbeth’s “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” lament. But Shakespeare fans will have particular fun catching all the familiar Shakespeare lines that come in surprising contexts. It’s not Juliet, for instance, who cries “O Romeo, Romeo! Wherefore art thou, oh Romeo?” —Scholarsandrogues 

With all the cleverness of Touchstone and the mischievousness of Puck, Reed has boldly reimagined the Bard by cutting, pasting, puzzling, and rearranging Shakespeare's own words and characters into an entirely new play. ... Reed has tapped into that muse and produced a re-envisioned Shakespeare that proves to be both provocative, substantial, and entertaining. —hipsterbookclub

A new and invigorating interpretation ... electrifying and comprehensive. —Zoe Rosenthal, BatesStudent


SELECTED PERFORMANCE HISTORY

—1/19/21 - 1/27/21

Arts Express

WBAI 99.5 FM NYC

Radio broadcast of All The World's A Grave, as broadcast today on WBAI NYC and Pacifica affiliates.

Directed by Jack Shalom; played by KeShaun Luckie, Josh Miccio, Mary Murphy, Rick Tuman, Marty Levine, and Jack Shalom.

7/27/18 - 8/26/18, 

Stages Theatre

Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, Sundays at 2pm: All the World’s a Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare, by John Reed

Directed by Jill Johnson. 

Starring: KC Marie Pandell, Damian Alejandro Arteaga, Bella Gil, Julie Kirkman, Christine Cummings, Rose London, Jill Cary Martin, Josh Williams, Abel Garcia, Scott Smith, Cristian Rincon, Marcus J. Andrews. 400 E Commonwealth Ave, Fullerton, CA. 

Press Release

—2/17/17 - 2/19/17

Hardin-Simmons University

7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, 

2 p.m. Feb. 19

Van Ellis Theatre, 2410 Cedar Street

Director: Courtney Mentzel 

Assistant Director: Hope Hargrove Fight Choreographer: Haulston Mann

Hamlet: Ryan Garmoe

Iago: Michael Bentea

Romeo: Dakota Medliin

Macbeth: Riley Arnold

King Lear: Justin Holland

Queen: Reagan Dyer

Juliet: Amy Arevalo

Rosencrantz: Adriel Varlack

Guildenstern: Bret Bondoc

1st Weird Sister/Player 2/Messenger: Titanyna Hudson

2nd Weird Sister/Noble Guest #2/ Queen’s Lady: Kristin Pickop 3rd Weird Sister/Noble Guest #4/ Player 4: Maddie Lowry Pastor/Noble Guest #3/ Player 3: Emily Hatch

Noble Guest #1/ Player 1/ Doctor: Molly Cate Hoehn King Hamlet’s Ghost/ Apparition: Dom Gordon Captain of Royal Guard/ Player 5: Michael Fosha

Servants/Soldiers:

Elise Cumbia Ben Burke Carley King Will Dickey Bridgett Mistrot Tia Brown

—5/23/16 

Gershwin Live: A selection from All The World’s A Grave, A New Tragedy by William Shakespeare, by John Reed 

(Penguin/Plume), read by Michael Wiener and Mieko Gavia. Curated by Neke Carson. @ Dixon Place, 7:30pm

161A Chrystie street, Manhattan.

—01/29/10

AMERICAN COLLEGE THEATRE FESTIVAL FESTIVAL XLII: ALL THE WORLD'S A GRAVE: A NEW PLAY BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE by John Reed @ UNIVERSITY OF NEW HAMPSHIRE, Paul Creative Arts Center, DURHAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE. 7:30pm

Directed by Professor Paul Kuritz

Costume design by Carol Farrell

Scenic and Lighting Design by Michael Reidy

Music by George MacDonald ’10

Commedia staged by Amanda Huotari

Film by Matt Reynolds ’10

The Cast,  in order of appearance ...

HAMLET, the Prince of Bohemia: Timothy Fox

JULIET, the Princess of Aquitaine: Marielle Vigneau-Britt 

THE QUEEN, wife to Old Hamlet, the king of Bohemia: Caroline Servat 

MACBETH, lover to the queen (and soon to be king): Rory Cosgrove 

GUILDENSTERN: Kate Fetrow

ROSENCRANTZ: Max Arnell

THE WEIRD ONES: Caitlyn DeFiore, Lauren Christianson, Travis Jones, Diana Jurand, Corrina Parisi, Adam Rawlings, Marketa Ort

As Noble Guests: Adam Rawlings, Lauren Christianson, Diana Jurand, Corrina Parisi

As Player King: Travis Jones

As Player Queen: Caitlyn DeFiore

As Player Villain: Lauren Christianson

As Doctor: Adam Rawling

As Messenger: Marketa Ort

As Soldiers: Adam Rawlings, Travis Jones, Corrina Parisi, Marketa Ort, Diana Jurand

IAGO, lieutenant to the prince: Kevin “Artist” Chambers 

ROMEO, general to the prince: Drew Gallagher

KING LEAR, the king of Aquitaine and father of Juliet: Stan Spilecki

OLD HAMLET’S GHOST: Timothy Fox

QUEEN’S LADY: Jen Flanagan ‘12

POLONIUS: Nikhil Krishna

—11/12/09 - 11/16/09

Bates College: ALL THE WORLD'S A GRAVE: A NEW PLAY BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE by John Reed, Schaeffer Theater, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine. 

Directed by Professor Paul Kuritz

Costume design by Carol Farrell

Scenic and Lighting Design by Michael Reidy

Music by George MacDonald ’10

Commedia staged by Amanda Huotari

Film by Matt Reynolds ’10

HAMLET, the Prince of Bohemia: Timothy Fox

JULIET, the Princess of Aquitaine: Marielle Vigneau-Britt 

THE QUEEN, wife to Old Hamlet, the king of Bohemia: Caroline Servat 

MACBETH, lover to the queen (and soon to be king): Rory Cosgrove 

GUILDENSTERN: Kate Fetrow

ROSENCRANTZ: Max Arnell

THE WEIRD ONES: Caitlyn DeFiore, Lauren Christianson, Travis Jones, Diana Jurand, Corrina Parisi, Adam Rawlings, Marketa Ort

As Noble Guests: Adam Rawlings, Lauren Christianson, Diana Jurand, Corrina Parisi

As Player King: Travis Jones

As Player Queen: Caitlyn DeFiore

As Player Villain: Lauren Christianson

As Doctor: Adam Rawlings

As Messenger: Marketa Ort

As Soldiers: Adam Rawlings, Travis Jones, Corrina Parisi, Marketa Ort, Diana Jurand

IAGO, lieutenant to the prince: Kevin “Artist” Chambers 

ROMEO, general to the prince: Thomas Chapman

KING LEAR, the king of Aquitaine and father of Juliet: Stan Spilecki

OLD HAMLET’S GHOST: Timothy Fox

QUEEN’S LADY: Jen Flanagan ‘12

POLONIUS: Nikhil Krishna

—04/27/09 

American Shakespeare Lab Reading of ALL THE WORLD”S A GRAVE @ Gershwin Hotel: Terrence O’Brien directs a reading of the play, featuring: Katharine Abbruzzese, Michael Borrelli, Richard Ercole, Maia Guest, Eleanor Handley, Katie Hartke, Jason O'Connell, Kelsey Olson, John Christian Plummer, Ryan Quinn, Gabra Zackman. 7 East 27th St., 8:00pm, Manhattan.

—10/22/08

All The World's A Grave @ Book Culture: with Matthew Sharpe and John Reed. 36 West 112th Street, Manhattan. 

—10/17/08

All The World's A Grave @ the National Arts Club: with John Reed and Ben Greenman, hosted by Fran Gordon. 15 Gramercy Park South, Manhattan.

—09/14/08

1:00pm, All The World’s A Grave: Brooklyn Books Festival: with Actors from Troupe will perform excerpts from John Reeds’ new book by Shakespeare. 209 Joralemon Street, Manhattan. 

—08/30/08

4:30pm, All The World’s A Grave, Workshop Performance @ New York Marble Cemetery, Second Avenue, between 2nd and 3rd Street, Manhattan.

—08/21/08

All The World’s A Grave, “Sneak Peek Workshop” @ Mary Devlin-Margaret Harmony “Women of Grace” Outdoor Stage, Waterville Valley, New Hampshire.