The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 18.0720 Monday, 22 October 2007
From: Dan Venning <
Date: Sunday, 21 Oct 2007 15:54:25 -0400
Subject: 18.0712 Hamlet
Comment: Re: SHK 18.0712 Hamlet
I saw the Wooster Group's HAMLET in April at St. Ann's Warehouse, and
agree with the analysis that it was "not quite there." The production
seemed to rely too heavily on one particular concept (that of comparing
theatrical and filmic point-of-view, and the fact that "recreating" a
past staging is always impossible, even when actually mimicing a film).
It's important to come into the production, however, with the
understanding that the goal is not to produce Shakespeare's HAMLET, but
The Wooster Group's. This acknowledgment is clearly made
throughout--they're doing their own thing, using Shakespeare's text not
necessarily as the basis for production, but as, in a sense, a backdrop.
The goal isn't to put on Shakespeare's play, but to make a statement
about theatrical art.
One can admit that this production won't be for everyone, particularly
SHAKSPERians who aren't interested in avant-garde theatre. Heck. I
certainly didn't like it, and might even go so far as to say that it
made me dizzy at times.
On the other hand, as scholars I don't think it's necessarily
appropriate to completely dismiss and demean avant-garde art without
serious critical evaluation, or at least without seeing the show itself.
While Ron Vawter did die of AIDS and Gray committed suicide, the other
founding members of the Wooster Group are alive and well, although most
have gone their own ways. The Wooster Group is acknowledged by many
theatre scholars to have paved the way for the contemporary avant-garde,
particularly involving the use of multimedia in theatre. The Wooster
Group never "ripped off" CRUCIBLE--they adapted the text, and *invited*
Miller to a rehearsal, which is when he sent the letter.
This show may not be for everyone and I'm certainly not recommending it,
but dismissing the Wooster Group offhand simply displays a lack of
concern for contemporary theatre, something I'd hope most SHAKSPERians
(and Shakespeareans!) could avoid. The Wooster Group's BRACE UP! was the
best version of THREE SISTERS I've ever seen, and for that one they got
the translator, Paul Schmidt, involved.
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