The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1868  Saturday, 9 October 2004

From:           Marcia Eppich-Harris <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>
Date:           Friday, 08 Oct 2004 13:18:42 -0500
Subject:        Why aren't there more WS contemporaries on film?

Dear friends of Shakespeare,

After a brief search through the archives, I am wondering -- why aren't
there more WS contemporaries on film? Is this simply a money issue? One
of my former classmates thinks it's because Shakespeare's contemporaries
aren't as good as him, in other words, there's a reason why
Shakespeare's Shakespeare and everyone else isn't. But I've been reading
a ton of Renaissance plays for my doctoral exams and find many of them
would be great to teach, but it would be nice to be able to have film
productions to help facilitate teaching them... Especially to students
who might find Bartholomew Fair too heavy on atmosphere, too light on
plot, and too many characters to keep straight. I will admit, as an
undergrad, I had to rent a video of Richard III in order to help me
remember who was who. I think that films can be such a wonderful tool in
the classroom, but not having films for some plays that may be
considered more obscure makes it hard to take a chance teaching them.
I'm not teaching right now, but I hope to be teaching soon, and it would
be really great to feel like I could use all this reading I'm doing in a
teaching setting, rather than feeling like I'm simply reading for 1. My
doctoral exams, 2. My own enjoyment, 3. My own research. A big part of
the reason why I got into this field (Renaissance) was so I could teach
it, but I'm reluctant to teach Shakespeare's contemporaries without
having other tools, like video, to help students get interested. Of
course, the plays can grab interest, but sometimes, as we all know, it
helps to have the visual to keep that interest alive and to be able to
see the plays performed, which many will argue is their purpose in the
first place.

I feel like I'm preaching to the converted, so I will stop. But any
ideas why there aren't more (or any?) Webster, Jonson, Marston, Marlowe,
Ford, Beaumont and Fletcher, etc. etc. on film? And more importantly, is
there anything we can do about it? With the ambitious project that RSC
has taken on to produce all of Shakespeare in the upcoming 2006 season,
you'd think someone would undertake the comparably small ambitious
project of filming a few contemporary's plays.

Marcia Eppich-Harris

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