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Home :: Archive :: 2005 :: September ::
BBC Shakespeare This Autumn
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1574  Thursday, 22 September 2005

From: 		Susanne Greenhalgh <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 20 Sep 2005 20:23:09 +0100
Subject: 	BBC Shakespeare This Autumn

In addition to the four contemporary rewrites of Shakespeare plays 
scheduled for BBC1 this autumn, these two programmes will be screened on 
BBC4.

Susanne Greenhalgh

Shakespeare's Happy Endings

This comic genealogy of rewritten Shakespeare is penned, presented and 
performed by Patrick Barlow, who stars as Professor Simon Starkman - 
academic, amateur thespian and novice documentary presenter.

Romeo and Juliet, Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead and West Side 
Story are just some of the many classic reworkings of Shakespearean 
text, paying due homage to his work, the apotheosis of the art of the 
dramaturge.

Barlow embarks on a whistle-stop tour of some of the most interesting 
and ludicrous bowdlerisations of Shakespeare throughout the history of 
theatre.

Some theatrical howlers from this litany of shame include: The History 
Of Richard II (1680), making Richard sympathetic withdrawn after one 
performance; The History Of King Lear (1681), in which the Fool is 
removed, Cordelia is married off to Edgar, and which concludes with Lear 
being restored to two thirds of his kingdom; and a Romeo And Juliet 
(1597) in which, surprisingly, the young couple live together happily 
ever after, which played on alternate nights with the original tragedy. 
One stood the test of time; the other.

Patrick scrutinises the lunatic scribblings of Nahum Tate, Kemble and 
Dryden, the bombast of Garrick, the entrepreneurial Victorian 
actor-manager Henry Irving and the ludicrously camp 20th century player 
Wolfit, among others.

Part documentary, part staged performance, Shakespeare's Happy Endings 
builds on BBC FOUR's reputation for grown-up humour, candid biography 
and a surprising take on a subject that everyone thinks they know.

A Waste of Shame

An intense drama about the passionate and destructive love triangle that 
consumed Shakespeare in his troubled middle years, A Waste of Shame 
adapts some of the most celebrated, sexual, raw, bitter and vitriolic 
love poems ever written.

Shakespeare's Sonnets are the most compelling source for an emotional 
and dramatic journey into the psychology of the man himself.

Self-analytical and brutally honest, they allow us to go behind the 
scenes of this complex genius - they are his story told in his very own 
words.

Internationally-acclaimed novelist and screenwriter William Boyd has 
written A Waste of Shame and brings to life Shakespeare's inner thoughts.

The drama is biographical: it focusses on Shakespeare's mysterious 
relationships with the 'lovely boy' and his extra-marital relationship 
with the 'dark lady' of his sonnet sequence.

The film tells the fraught, passionate love story behind the composition 
of the Sonnets.

Based on academic sources, A Waste of Shame delves into the mystery of 
the identity of who these people really were, and how they influenced 
and affected the greatest writer in our literary canon.

They didn't just tug at his heartstrings: they also changed the 
direction of his play-writing.

Shakespeare is presented as a corpulent, middle-aged writer and 
businessman, separated from his wife Anne Hathaway and grieving for the 
death of his son Hamnet.

Plague has sprung up again in London, and the theatres have all been 
closed as a result.

Desperate for work, Shakespeare takes a commission to write 17 sonnets 
for an androgynous young lord, William Herbert, soon-to-be Earl of Pembroke.

This young man gives one half of the inspiration to Shakespeare for the 
most celebrated love poems ever written.

The second half is given by the 'dark lady' Lucy, an exotic courtesan 
who sells sexual favours to the literati of Elizabethan London.

A Waste of Shame is the story of how these two liaisons dangerously 
intersect in Shakespeare's life.

Susanne Greenhalgh

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