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A Short Play about the Writing of Salve Deus

A Short Play about the Writing of Salve Deus

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Published by JOHN HUDSON
SHORT EXPERIMENTAL PLAY about the writing of Salve Deus (1611), which addresses the figure on the cross 'Hail King of the Jews', not with the usual Latin 'ave', but with 'salve' 'are you having a good time on the cross?'. This is the first indicator that the entire poem is a comic satire, written by a Jewish Marrano poet to mock Christianity.
SHORT EXPERIMENTAL PLAY about the writing of Salve Deus (1611), which addresses the figure on the cross 'Hail King of the Jews', not with the usual Latin 'ave', but with 'salve' 'are you having a good time on the cross?'. This is the first indicator that the entire poem is a comic satire, written by a Jewish Marrano poet to mock Christianity.

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Published by: JOHN HUDSON on Oct 21, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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09/07/2010

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1
CUMBERLAND DORSET PEMBROKE
Countess of Cumberland. Middle aged, a successful business woman and manager of her estates, very rich, invests in overseas exploration Countess of Dorset; Young sporty,dances, chatty Countess of Pembroke; Arrogant, elderly,self-absorbed, pious.
MANHATTAN THEATER SOURCE; DECEMBER 2009 AMELIA BASSANO SHORT PLAYS: PLAY NUMBER NINE 
HAVE A GOOD TIME ON THE CROSS, GOD
The Writing of Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum
*
(1611)
A boy wearing stage black and a white loincloth. His arms are outstretched in a cross. It is dark. Amelia is at stage left, wearing colored skirt . She is holding a large dice and a large flashlight which illuminates the cross.
Amelia
. This passion and the death of a dear friend would go near tomake a man look sad.
Boy
. Come tears, confoundOut sword and wound the pap of Pyramus
*
 
The title of her poetry collection, and that of the main poem, refers to the Gospel of Matthew 27;29 which describes Jesus being mocked by soldiers saying Hail, King of theJews. Strangely, Amelia does not use the normal Latin word 'Ave' for hail. She uses'Salve' meaning are you well, are you having a good day, how are you doing? This setsthe mocking tone of the whole poem.
 
 
2
Aye that left pap where heart doth hop
[Amelia slashes with her hand at his left breast] 
Thus die I, thus, thus, thusNow am I dead, Now am I fledMy soul is in the sky.Tongue lose thy light, moon take thy flight.
[Amelia focuses the light at his feet] 
Now die, die, die, die
[Amelia rolls a large meta-theatrical dice into the light at front stage.] 
Amelia;
Here comes Thisbe and her passion ends the play.
[lights up 
]
Amelia
. That’s a good boy. That will be all. (
boy takes arms down 
)
Boy
. Do you want me to do it again mistress Lanier?.
 
Amelia.
No, its fine. There is your penny. That’s all I can afford now.[
he stands there while Amelia addresses the audience] 
I wonder what he thinks. I am sure he has done worse things for money.Did you get it? Do you know what you were just looking at? I hope so. Itwould be nice to have an informed audience after all this time.It has been 15 years since that first performance at the Blackfriars. And inall that time what has happened? All everyone talks about is fairies.Oberon this. Titania that. Isn’t it obvious what it really is? For some,evidently not. And for the wiser sort, those who know to solve theallegory, well they know better than to open their mouths. It isundiscussable. Nobody dares.But I don’t mind telling you. What can they do to me now? It’s a satire. Avery funny satire. The wall between earth and heaven comes down forthe Last Day, so Jesus who you have just seen —in his allegory asPyramus---can come back and unite with the church, played by Thisbe. Itis the Apocalypse but it all goes wrong, and Jesus gets crucified again.The black humor is hysterically funny.….so why am I the only onelaughing?
[ she gestures boy off stage 
]But nobody said a thing. It was just the same for the other plays. Look at
 Julius Caesar,
where Caesar even wore a coronet of nettles and came backas a ghost, just like Christ, but no-one remarked on the parody. TheRomans suck Caesar’s blood from his wounds, “like a fountain with anhundred spouts” (2,2,77) washing in his sacred blood. It was just soblasphemous, nobody would talk about it.Mr Shakespeare has gone back Stratford, so my playwriting daysare over. But I can still write poetry. I wanted to call it
CRUCIFIXION,
but
 
3
the publisher insisted on a Latin title
Salve Deus Rex Judaeorum 
….HailGod King of the Jews…[
knocking outside] 
At least this time I could publish it under my own name. By the Wife of Captain Alphonso Lanier, Mistress Amelia Lanier. God has always giventhe power to wise and virtuous women to bring down the powerful intheir pride and arrogance, as Deborah hammered a tent peg through theskull of proud Cesarus.So I sent out my little booke with letters to the noble ladies of England, asking for their support. My letters to these great one--blessedwith Fame--are my last hope to raise my sad dejected Muse. Shut uphere in sorrow’s cell, poor and full of care, what else can I do? Will womanhelp woman? Will they read my verse? Will they judge if what I havewritten agrees not with the text. Will they seek out virtue? Will they speakgood of me and my endeavors, by their favorable and bestinterpretations, or will they quench my work by their wrongconstructions? We shall soon find out.[
knocking and 
 
voice offstage 
] THE COUNTESS OF CUMBERLAND.
Amelia.
Here comes the first of them. An expert on seamanship and therichest woman in England, will she navigate the true virtue of my verse?[
enter Countess of Cumberland. Amelia does a deep curtsey 
]
Amelia.
Your grace! Most excellent and Right Honorable lady, I am sodeeply honored to see you.
Countess C
. And I, my dear Amelia, was happy to be honored by yourpoem.
Amelia.
In my poor state, having neither rich pearls of India, not finegold of Arabia, nor diamonds of inestimable value, with the writing of myunworthy hand I can but hold up a mirror, dear Madame, to your mostworthy mind.
Countess C.
Not that I understood it of course.
Amelia
. I did but deliver to you Countess, the sweet balm from thebeautiful tree of life. It is so super-excellent, in all its parts, that itexceeds for beauty and riches all the most precious jewels of the world.
Countess C.
For your best wishes for my health, that I may continue toshine my light in the world in increase of health and of honor, for all of that Amelia, you have, of course, my thanks. I can see it is a poem aboutChrist.
Together
. Our noble Lord [
both curtsey 
]
Countess C.
……but is it not a bit, just a tiny bit, macabre? There may Ihis bleeding body all embrace, and kiss with tears of sorrow his dying

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