“The play’s the thing,” wrote Shakespeare (via Hamlet). In context:
I’ll have grounds
More relative than this—the play’s the thing
Wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King.
Hamlet’s hatched a plan to surprise the conscience of his uncle, who Hamlet believes killed his father to ultimately gain the throne. I did a little reading (nothing too thorough, just eNotes), and discovered that about ten years after the first production of Hamlet, another play was being staged by playwright Thomas Heywood. As the actors staged a gruesome murder, a woman stood up in the audience and confessed killing her own husband in like manner.
Speaking of plays (but not of murder), Jonah had his own first school production this week entitled Bugz. It’s typical elementary fare. Cute costumes, funny dances, and entertaining one-liners (delivered with consistent verve by the boy playing the Maggot). Jonah and his fellow Kindergarteners (the boys) were Army Ants. He had one line, which probably only his father and I understood: “I hope they have cheese souffle and tuna casserole.”
The play’s definitely “the thing” for Jonah, but rather than revealing the guilty conscience of a murderer, his play is usually about trying something on. It’s about the suit. “I’m going to dress up as Yoda,” he declared the other night before bed. He donned neon green Toy Store pajamas turned inside out. John found him a cane and an old southwestern flannel shirt (also turned inside out) to approximate a ragged robe. He hobbled around on Sophie’s army green dog bed (“the swamp”) and informed us he would be Yoda for sharing time (it was his turn) the next day. He followed through on that, with John’s help, but he went all quiet and lost most of his dramatic enthusiasm.
Yesterday he went all Harry Potter. Disappeared in his room and reappeared having made a two-tone lightening bolt attempt on his forehead. He tried to use a magic marker to make his hair brown, to little effect (thankfully). He cut and taped several pieces of black construction paper to his pajamas for a cape. He even made Harry Potter feet, though for some reason didn’t cut them apart and so was hopping around like he was on a pogo stick until they ripped and he abandoned them for the swing.
Then there’s this funny self-narration he’s taken to using. He’ll go into Jonahland for a spell and spiel off different voices or comments, usually playing them in a loop. Sometimes it’s something that happened at school. A phrase someone said to him at lunch. Sometimes it’s a few lines from a video. This isn’t new. What’s new is the addition of, “said Jonah.”
Example: there’s a girl in his class who’s a little on the bossy side. She drives J batty, and so we talk about her a lot. Mostly about why she makes Jonah crazy and some things Jonah might say to tell her how he feels about it. So while I was making dinner a few nights ago, I heard him say, “You’re not my boss, said Jonah.” And then, “Quit buggin’ me, said Jonah.” (Which happens to be the logo on one of his favorite t-shirts, complete with a big black beetle.)
That’s the kind of play we’re talking about around here. He was great in Bugz, by the way. He knew all the actions, he knew his line, he even sang a little. He, not surprisingly, also knew some of the great lines his classmates delivered. Like the Yellow Jacket: “Don’t forget it folks—it don’t mean a thing if it ain’t got that sting!” But it was the suit that he truly loved. Who wouldn’t want to wear a camouflage hat with pipe cleaner antennae?