A Fellow of Infinite Jest

In A Fellow of Infinite Jest, Will Kempe enters a London tavern late at night in 1599 as Shakespeare sits writing a play.  Kempe complains about Hamlet’s advice to the players and learns that Falstaff, a part he enjoyed playing, is not in Henry the Fifth, but, like Yorick, dead.  Shakespeare says there will be no more jigs or improvisations; from now on they’re sticking to the script.  Kempe says the script is just a road map, that he is an entertainer, a comedian, who made it possible for Shakespeare to work in theatre.  Shakespeare says he is grateful but cannot allow Kempe to ruin his scripts with his old irrelevant slapstick routines that have nothing to do with the play.  Kempe rages that the theatre is not a building or words but flesh and blood and gonads.  He says he will be remembered in a hundred years and that Shakespeare is nothing.  He storms out but comes back in, and Shakespeare offers to put Falstaff into Henry the Fifth as long as Kempe says the lines as written.  Kempe refuses and Shakespeare says that Falstaff is dead.  Kempe says he will dance a jig on the smoking ruins of the theatre.  He leaves, Shakespeare writes, and the lights go out.

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