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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: March ::
"It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.0618  Monday, 8 March 2004

[1]     From:   Anne Shirey <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 2004 08:27:07 EST
        Subj:   Re: SHK 15.0614 "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"

[2]     From:   Todd Pettigrew <
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        Date:   Friday, 5 Mar 2004 10:47:00 -0400
        Subj:   RE: SHK 15.0614 "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Anne Shirey <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 2004 08:27:07 EST
Subject: 15.0614 "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"
Comment:        Re: SHK 15.0614 "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"

 >Does resetting time and place make Sh. more accessible to modern
 >audiences--or just confuse things even more?

My .02, and then I will go away.

Personally I do not mind high concept Shakespeare - if, in fact, the
concept has a reason, a base, something to add to or say about the text
and story.

I have seen so many so-called "modern adaptations" of plays like Hamlet
and R & J - modern adaptation meaning there are a lot of street drugs,
tattoos and head banging music. Fine. Do I walk away learning anything
or "getting" anything more? No.

I have seen high-concept productions of plays such as Pericles, Tempest,
Lear, and yes ... R & J. High concept meaning different things - gender
reversal or change, narrative passages told through dance,
non-traditional casting, settings in different eras - and have walked
away "seeing" the play in a whole new way.

There are infinite excuses/reasons/justifications to modernize. Simple
accessibility is not enough. There must be foundation within the text to
support the adaptation.

What is so accessible about Las Vegas showgirls and boys anyhoo? I guess
the big ... tips.  LOL.

The MSD production you describes sounds ... gratuitous. Artistic
masturbation. Concept for the sake of concept. But then, in order to
judge the production, one must see/hear it. I just have other things to
do ......

Anne Shirey
Producing Director
The Bullshed Theatre Project
http://www.geocities.com/bullshedtheatre/

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Todd Pettigrew <
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Date:           Friday, 5 Mar 2004 10:47:00 -0400
Subject: 15.0614 "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"
Comment:        RE: SHK 15.0614 "It makes it more accessible to a modern audience"

Al Magary asks: "Does resetting time and place make Sh. more accessible
to modern audiences--or just confuse things even more?"

I have often thought that modern settings move the audience away from
the play rather than bring them closer to it. Why? In a traditional
staging of Dream, let's say, when Puck refers to the forest ("Through
the forest have I gone/ But Athenian found I none"), he is understood to
mean the forest in the normal sense of the word, a sense that everyone
readily understands. In the Vegas production that Magary describes,
however, the audience hearing that same line is given an extra task:
they must transpose the normal tone of the word into the new key of the
modern setting. That is, they are implicitly told, 'when characters say
"forest," they actually mean "desert" and so on throughout the play.
This transposition requirement is common in modern-dress productions:
when Capulet says "Give me my long sword" in a production where everyone
is carrying guns, we are supposed to accept that in this world, people
call guns swords and make the shift. It will not be difficult for
readers to fill in other examples.

This is not necessarily to say that modern-dress productions cannot work
and work well. Obviously we are canny folks and we can do the
transpositions, but the easy assumption that such a mode of staging
inevitably bring the play closer to the audience seems highly suspect to
me. Turning much of the literal into metaphor tends to make the plays
even more difficult, not easier.

Todd Pettigrew
UCCB

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