Isabella has a problem. Vicentio, the ruler of Vienna, has left Angelo in charge because, Vicentio says, he needs to leave the city on a diplomatic mission. Angelo is strict and has made fornication a capital crime. Claudio, Isabella’s brother, has gotten his girlfriend pregnant, and as a result he has been sentenced to death. Isabella, a novice nun, pleads to Angelo to have mercy and not execute her brother, but Angelo gives her a choice: Either Isabella has sex with him and does not tell anyone, or her brother dies.
Apparently, I am either the first or second person in the world to translate all 38 of William Shakespeare’s plays into today’s English. (BOOKCAPS has done this kind of translation, but I don’t know how many authors worked on their retellings of Shakespeare’s plays. Of course, many people have written summaries.) I may also be the first person in the world to translate at least three of Ben Jonson’s plays and at least two of John Ford’s plays into today’s English.
One of my composition students, Maggie Wendell, wrote a paper about the first day of her first class as a freshman at Ohio University. It was a public-speaking class, and she was shocked when she learned that the professor was going to have the students speak for five minutes without preparation on a topic that the professor would tell them. Maggie is a student who likes to be super-prepared for every test and every assignment, so impromptu speaking is not at all her thing. When it was her turn and she got her topic, she immediately began staring at the back wall and spewing whatever verbal diarrhea came into her mind. She even invented an Asian-American friend as she talked about the youth in Asia. When her five minutes was up, she stopped talking and saw that the other students were looking at her and trying to stifle laughter. What was wrong? Were her pants unzipped? Her professor said, “Thank you, Ms. Wendell, for your enlightening talk on the youth in Asia, but your topic was euthanasia. You may know it better as mercy killing.” She said weakly, “I know what euthanasia is,” sat down, and after the class was over, immediately dropped it and took another class. Fortunately, embarrassment plus time equals comedy, and by the time Maggie was a senior, she thought that what had happened was funny.