The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0614 Friday, 5 March 2004
Date: Friday, 5 Mar 2004 02:29:25 -0800
Subject: "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"
I have an item saying that the University of North Colorado will be
producing MND with the setting changed:
"Instead of ancient Greece, the modern setting is Las Vegas.
"The Duke's court is the high-roller room of the Casino Athena, of which
Theseus is the owner. The forest is the hot Nevada desert, and the
fairies are showgirls and showboys, [director Tracy] Salter said.
"'It makes it more accessible to a modern audience,' she said."
(There's not much more than this but the whole article is at
How so, I wonder. One sees this accessibility rationale for restaging
quite often. Reset R&J to a tough city school--but keep the friar who
knows about drugs and have R and J go through a suicide duet in a family
tomb at the end. Reassign JC to Mussolini's Rome--but fight an ancient
historical battle in Macedonia anyway. Relocate Macbeth to a corporate
boardroom, or a burger joint in Pennsylvania. Make Othello chief of
Scotland Yard, with Dessie at home in a Thameside condo.
Does this really help modern audiences "get" Shakespeare, or does it
reinforce the idea that the Bard is old, old, old? Although the MND
director in Colorado will no doubt make some cuts, the language is not
being rewritten and the wild story in a dreamworld remains Shakespeare's
melange of fairy lore, courtly pageant, Chaucer, Apuleius, Ovid,
chivalric romance, and other things in Sh.'s mental storehouse.
Thus the Las Vegas casino and Henderson County desert will be the
setting for some pretty remarkable things. As the Fort Greeley paper
says, "Oberon has his servant bring him magic love drops to put in
Titania's eyes as she sleeps and will make her fall in love with the
first thing she sees when she wakes up. Somehow, Hermia, Demitrius,
Lysander and Helena get mixed up in the prank and wind up falling in
love with the wrong person and shocking their lovers. Mischievous Puck
further complicates things by giving Bottom, a weaver, the head of a
Does resetting time and place make Sh. more accessible to modern
audiences--or just confuse things even more?
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