The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 14.2225 Monday, 24 November 2003
Date: Sunday, 23 Nov 2003 08:22:01 -0500
Subject: The Eternal Now of a Shakespeare Play
The Eternal Now of a Shakespeare Play
November 23, 2003
By BRUCE WEBER
"RIPPED from the headlines" is not the tag line you would attach to
Shakespeare, but the other way around works pretty often; headlines do
seem to be ripped from Shakespeare. The latest reminder of this came
last week at Lincoln Center Theater, where a glossy cast (Kevin Kline,
Michael Hayden, Ethan Hawke, Audra McDonald, Richard Easton) opened in a
production of "Henry IV," which conflates Parts 1 and 2 of Shakespeare's
history-inspired account of the jockeying for the English throne in the
early 15th century.
The key figure in the play, you will recall, is not the title character
but his son, Prince Hal (later to be known as Henry V, who led the
English to a military victory over France, but that's another play). Hal
begins as an irresponsible miscreant, hanging around with
pleasure-loving frat brothers like Falstaff, but in a pivot toward
maturation, renounces his profligacy and finally gains the crown.
Remind you of anyone?
This parallelism is responsible for all manner of directorial
interpretations of all manner of Shakespeare's plays by artists who try
to update or contemporize the action. Myriad versions of "Midsummer
Night's Dream" from the 1960's found the culture of psychedelics and
free love celebrated in Shakespeare.
. . .
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