Lion Queen

Sarabi: The Least Memorable Name

The Lion King is a Disney classic. A Disney classic based on the Shakespearean play, ‘Hamlet.’ A remake of a remake of a remake. The best Disney movie? Maybe. 

I grew up on Disney. If you think about it, that’s the adopted kids’ way. You are read ‘The Chosen Baby’ as a child, and you move onto Disney movies. All main characters are without parent or parents. All is an overstatement, but you believed me, right? 

Mufasa is CNN. CNN, Hamlet’s dad. 

I was once Gertrude. Sarabi, if you will. 

When I was in middle school, I was in band, playing clarinet. I stuck with it to high school – freshman year, any way. Then, I moved. Upon moving halfway through my freshman year, I realized the band practiced in the morning. Like, 6:00 am. Wasn’t for me. I put the clarinet away and did nothing for a year. 

At some point, I remembered I did theater in 6th and 7th grade. I took a theater class, and eventually got into school plays. I then got into the high school improv troupe and eventually the bigger plays. I ended up, my senior year in the play ‘Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead.’ 

If I went to a progressive high school, or had a director who didn’t adore male students quite so much, you may think “man – she would have made a great Rosencrantz,” because I would have. I appreciate your kind words. I was Gertrude. Hamlet’s mom. Ophelia was taken by my dear friend and there technically were no other women.

The play went up, full length, in December. In March, we began our journey into breaking the play down into a one-act. We nailed it, honestly. I was still Gertrude. 

At some point, before a new competition, my director yelled at me. She said something along the lines of “if you don’t get your shit together, we’re fitting someone else for this dress.” My response, as an 18-year-old, was, “well good luck refitting this dress in under 24 hours!” I won that round, and we won that round as a team the next day.

I look back on those nights. Mondays through Thursdays – at school until 12:00am. My parents never even questioned it. I definitely used that to my advantage. 

All this to say, I was Gertrude. Gertrude. Even in the Lion King, Sarabi doesn’t immediately go to Scar for comfort. Gertrude does. That weird human Dane goes straight to Claudius. What a bitch, right? At 18, I was playing (debatably) the most troubled, bizarre, and deep character in Hamlet, and my director was yelling at me.

There’s a spin off of Lion King – there’s many. One of them is “Lion King One and a Half.” It was on our mandatory watch list when we were doing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. It’s weird because the movie Rosencrantz and Guildenstern was not mandatory. 

I was Sarabi.

Sarabi from Lion King with crossed paws looking down
Sarabi, Simba’s Mom in Lion King

Author: lisa freedrinks

Comedian, writer, actor in Austin, TX