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Shakespeare in Chicago

Image: PV Bella

“If I did this, then it means I stuck my fist in the fears of Black Americans in this country for over 400 years, and the fears of the LGBT community,” he said. “Your honor, I respect you, and I respect the jury, but I did not do this. And I am not suicidal, and if anything happens to me when I go in there, I did not do it to myself.” (Jussie Smollett)

I have seen a lot of courtroom drama during my time as a police officer. Usually, the dramatists are the attorneys arguing their cases.

Jussie Smollett’s soliloquy after he was sentenced was one of the most incredible performances I ever saw in a Chicago courtroom. It is worthy of a Jeff Award.

Smollett is the Thespian of Chicago. His performance was dramatically charged. His oration was precise and emotional. He timed his rising anger perfectly, yelling louder as bailiffs led him to the holding area.

Jussie Smollett could partner with his Chicago patroness, Kim Foxx, another accomplished emotional, dramatic writer, orator, and thespian. They could write a Chicago Way Shakespearean tragedy.

Jussie must do something during his incarceration. The play would have a cast of backstabbers, charlatans, frauds, friends, allies, enemies, frenemies, traitors, connivers, avengers, retributionists, mobs, and fools. You know, the gamut of Chicago politics.

The plot could revolve around justice, injustice, retribution, revenge, greed, life, death, conspiracies, mob justice, race, misogyny, LGBQT+ issues, power, power struggles, and the Chicago Way.

The nice thing is many of the cast can play themselves.

  • Jussie Smollett as Prince Jamlet
  • The Tuna Sub Sandwich as itself
  • Kim Foxx as Grandis Accusator Vulpes
  • Rahm Emanuel as Arbius Truncus
  • Lori Lightfoot Imperatrix Maximus Virgam
  • Toni Preckwinkle as Summum Princeps Maximus
  • The Osundario brothers as Otello and Moro
  • Chicago Police Officers as Urbs Legio
  • Chicago Police Detectives as Legio Inquisitores
  • Chicago News Media as Equos Asininus
  • Citizens of Chicago (The chorus) as Stultus Suffragi

After two years of the pandemic, Chicago deserves good theatrical entertainment. Maybe the Goodman or Steppenwolf would be an appropriate venue for the production.

The play opens on one of the coldest days of the year. The main character, Prince Jamlet, braves the below-zero weather in the wee hours of the morning to get a tuna sub sandwich. As he returns, fighting the arctic temperatures, polar bears, and Innuits, he is attacked by two men wearing MAGA hats. They call him racial and homophobic slurs. They punch and push him around. They douse Jamlet with bleach and place a crude noose around his neck. The Stultus Suffragii sings the opening song, a, maybe the theme from Rocky.

All the while, Jamlet holds on to that tuna sandwich for dear life. When the duo flees, Jamlet composes himself and walks the rest of the way home in the Arctic cold, with a death grip on the tuna sandwich and the noose around his neck.

While waiting for the police, Prince Jamlet delivers a soliloquy to the tuna sandwich, as he holds it aloft, as violins softly play in the background.

“Alas, poor Sandwich! I knew them, Otello and Moro, fellows of infinite jest, of most excellent fancy; they hath provided illicit substances for me a thousand times…”

When the tale of woe came out, it shocked the world. The Legio Inquisitores were sent throughout the land to find those who committed this heinous deed. Soon, they found the culprit. It was none other than Prince Jamlet himself.

Former Caesar Arbius Truncus was furious. His Inquisitores spent days investigating only to discover the crime was a hoax. Otello and Moro were paid by Jamlet to do this. They turned on him to save themselves.

Grandis Accusator Vulpes at first approved charges against Jamlet. Then, after the intervention of Jamlet’s family and influential political and Hollywood royalty, she refused to prosecute Jamlet.

Caesar Arbious Truncus was infuriated. He wanted heads to roll. He needed them to create a new game called bowling. The orchestra plays “Anger of the Gods.”

Grandis Accusator Vulpes defended herself in dramatic soliloquies, citing truth, justice, and the Chicago Way. She claimed she did nothing wrong and performed well within the rules of the Chicago Way.

Time wore on. Jamlet was free. Caesar Arbius Truncus leaves the stage. Imperatrix Maximus Virgam enters.

Accusator Vulpes is tossed to the side and replaced by a Speciale Accusator. Summum Princeps Maximus was infuriated that a jurist would override Accusator Vulpes and appoint a special prosecutor. She used her massive powers in a failed attempt to keep the honest judge from being reelected. She is conspiring to go after the enemies of Accusator Vulpes. She will do all in her power to crush them.

Jamlet is finally tried, convicted, and sentenced. Justice is served. Jamlet is removed from the courtroom after giving his soliloquy. (The orchestra and the Stultus Suffragii sing a triumphant song.)

Accusator Vulpes is infuriated. She pens a dramatic piece to be scribed and delivered throughout the land, criticizing the whole process and the sentencing.

The play ends with Prince Jamlet sitting alone in his gaol cell. He bitterly clings to a rolled-up hand towel for dear life, pretending it is a tuna sandwich. He delivers another soliloquy, holding the sandwich aloft.

“Alas, Tuna Sandwich. Otello and Moro are traitors. I am innocent. I did not do this. I am innocent. I am not suicidal. I am not suicidal. If anything happens to me, I am not suicidal.”

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