The Merchant of Veneris: How did THE DIG miss this woke Shakespeare?


The Merchant of Veneris

or: How's By Ewe?


THE PLAYERS: LEONATO, a mature noble presenting external genitalia. HERO, his self-gender-assigned offspring, presenting as cisgender with binary internal genitals. BENEDICK, a noble warrior who may or may not have one, not that there’s anything wrong with that. BEATRICE, cousin of HERO, possessor of binary genitalia, erstwhile paramour of BENEDICK. CLAUDIO, a Count, wearing a codpiece which may or may not have anything beneath it. DON PEDRO, comrade in arms to CLAUDIO. Noble COMPANIONS and SERVITORS of the various houses: L, G, B, T, cis-sexual, pangender, two-spirit, hijra, etc.



Enter CLAUDIO and DON PEDRO, perusing an illustrated folio depicting an image of loveliness.


CLAUDIO: Look well, Don Pedro, at this fair form. A ram, now softest ewe.


DON PEDRO: Mark that – though not hatched so, yet ewe so lovely?


CLAUDIO: Yea, friend: It is a whole new ewe.

And yet, but hear the tmerfs and twerfs…


DON PEDRO: What names are these, good Claudio?


CLAUDIO: Trans-men exclusionary radical feminists, good friend.

And trans-women exclusionary radical feminists, their dark twins.

Some even are themselves trans women, or queer cispeople,

Hold womanhood superior and all men shit.

If a man be trans he is, by cruel default,

A sexist douche. If woman trans from man, she is

but a pretender

For whom th’ hot flames of the stake were none too kind. Oh sir,

They dox and harass trans men, even as do your twerfs

Harass trans women, like this tendersome new ewe.


DON PEDRO: Poor ewe.


CLAUDIO: Poor me, poor thee, poor all of us. But soft. Here’s Leonato.

Sound him well.


LEONATO, entering at the last of CLAUDIO’S speech: Say what??


DON PEDRO: What part, my goodly lord, of this our discourse

Grasp’d thou not?


LEONATO: Good friend, the tumbled times have made me frail

And on my silvered head heaped little measure of understanding

Of what the hell goes on. For in my day was this, my stout John Henry,

Yclept by straighter names than ‘front externals;’ nay, then

Short hard names of few letters sufficed; a spade

A spade was called; a furrow, furrow. Yet I wot now, with joy:

A shot-putter can be queen, a stout Olympian

Leap all hurdles, get him a furrow, and become

A lady hot as Hades! Nay, in th’ age that would for most be dotage

By art and coin and Annie Liebowitz, put Venus in the shade!


DON PEDRO: My lord, you said a mouthful. But speak we now

Of softer things. For Claudio, my own dear lord,

Has lost his heart to a pure maid: your daughter.


LEONATO: My daughter Hero, then, has won his favour?


DON PEDRO: Pardon – thy daughter, Hero?


LEONATO; Yes, by my troth.


DON PEDRO: Saving your grace--called Hero--and yet possessed of

A vagina?


LEONATO: Vagina, say you? Verily say I,

Nay, swear by all penectomy, that noxious word shall ne’er

To my good child prevail!

What e’er she choose, shall that sweet spot be named,

Nay, not by nature bound, nor yet false gendered

She by her hard will and doughty devices

Shall call it what she will – “Vagina” her, good sir,

No vain “vaginas,” of which no longer do our sages prate that

No thing could be finer!


DON PEDRO: And yet I wotted not that Hero were a maid.


LEONATO: Wot: Not?


DON PEDRO: Not never nohow. Claudio?


CLAUDIO, Nay, no more did I. We thought, milord,

You did have twins.


LEONATO: Nay. what then, fie, forsooth, should she be called?


DON PEDRO: Well, how ‘bout Hera? Should Hero go

In flowing gowns and Spanx?


LEONATO: How now: Be’st thou and thy limp lord

Mere poxy tmerfs and twerfs?


DON PEDRO: Nay, good my lord; I’m no more tmerf than thou. My genitals

Are all externals.


LEONATO: So sayest thou! Now, by my troth I swear thee thus:

No tmerf or twerf shall in this noble house obtain my child’s fair hand,

No, nor neither plumb her frontal hole!


DON PEDRO: Her frontal which?


LEONATO: What, terfy varlet! Spoke we not of champions fresh furrowed

And yet thy lesson’s still unlearned? Prepare to meet thy doom!

For I am proof against thee. No tmerf born of ciswoman

Can harm Leonato!


DON PEDRO: Despair thy charm!

And tell the hijras whom thou still hast served

Don Pedro was from turkey baster

Untimely dripped!


LEONATO; Nay!


DON PEDRO: Yea! LEONATO: Hoo!


DON PEDRO: Hah!

LEONATO: Vile tmerf!


DON PEDRO: Foul twerf!


All three joust. LEONATO falls. DON PEDRO falls athwart. CLAUDIO, beneath, is suffocated. All die.


HERO and BEATRICE embrace. Exeunt, left, to gender-neutral lavatory.


Exeunt COMPANIONS and SERVITORS, half the COMPANIE singing: “Let Me Call You, Sweetheart;” the other half, “Yes, I Have No Banana;” each beating the other compunctionlessly about the head and neck



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