For some time I’ve been mulling over a particular type of Rhode Island male that I had completely forgotten about till coming back home recently. I’ve tried to describe this type a few times without ever arriving at a satisfyingly clear image. Sitting in the audience at The Mediator open mic this past Thursday it struck me that this figure was a sort of Polonius, father of Ophelia and Laertes and inept councilor to Denmark. Seeing this I felt a sort of relief, both because I’d linked this persistent feeling of irritation to my narrative obsession and because it at least gave me that showing up at this open mic again wasn’t a complete waste of time.
Writing this I realize that the most precious experience I have these days is the experience, usually fleeting and fragmentary, of being what might be termed on course. It’s hard to keep this dream alive in isolation, but such isolation is inherent to the dream. Such difficulty, then, relates exactly to the capacity I am most in need of developing.
Anyway, recognizing Polonius at the open mic I was led to the obvious identification of Rhode Island as Denmark. I started to wonder if the whole play could be translated into the vernacular of the state, complete with the characteristic accent. It’s another idea that amuses me greatly, but would be a work to actually realize.
One final thought that followed from this sense of association between RI and Elsinore: the royal family of Denmark was not quite Danish. The German origins of the current royal house of England provides an easy doorway to understanding that European royals constitute a sort of separate nation, the members of which assume the mantles of the nations they rule over, while not really being locals. The royal families are the 1%, a separate breeding stock.
Polonius and his family, in this view, are the actual locals. So, in the (RI) vernacular version of Hamlet, the royal family doesn’t participate so strongly in the local accent.