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Home :: Archive :: 2003 :: October ::
Renaming Shakespeare's Plays
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.1926  Thursday, 2 October 2003

From:           Al Magary <
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Date:           Wednesday, 1 Oct 2003 13:33:02 -0700
Subject:        Renaming Shakespeare's Plays

There's a new Stuart exhibit at Windsor Castle that includes, it says
here, "Charles I's own copy of Shakespeare's Comedies, Histories and
Tragedies (1632), with the king's annotations and his suggestions for
new titles for the bard's plays."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jhtml?xml=/news/2003/09/25/nstu25.xml&sSheet=/news/2003/09/25/ixhome.html

Now this is an interesting idea that a columnist should have seized on
immediately.  First of all, what were Charles' suggested new titles?
Perhaps along these lines:
--Henry V:  Hoorah for the King!
--Henry VI, Part 2:  First of All, Kill the Lawyers
--As You Like It:  Oliver, the Villain
--Hamlet:  The Dead King's Revenge

I googled a bit but found that new titles are a neglected corner of
Shakespeare scholarship.  Certainly we know about attempted
resurrections of what perhaps *should* be the proper titles--e.g., the
Wells-Taylor choices for the complete works:
--Henry VI, Part 2:  The First Part of the Contention of the Two
Famous Houses of York and Lancaster
--Henry VI, Part 3:  The True Tragedy of Richard Duke of York
and the Good King Henry the Sixth
--Henry VIII:  All Is True

But the more imaginative business of renaming can be found in the
numerous Sh. adaptations ca. 17-20C.  For example, these titles for
Taming of the Shrew knockoffs, sequels, spinoffs:
--Sauny the Scot
--The Cobbler of Preston
--A Cure for a Scold
--Catherine and Petruchio
(These were plucked from the RSC's page on TS's performance history,
http://www.rsc.org.uk/tame/about/performance.html)

This is getting rich.  Let's throw in the title of the bad quarto:
--A Shrew

And John Fletcher's sequel:
--The Woman's Prize, or the Tamer Tamed

The hopelessly jaded can look to the foreign translations of TS to
revive their interest:
--La Bisbetica domata
--La Fierecilla domada
--La M

 

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