The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.020  Monday, 23 January 2012


From:         Mari Bonomi <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>

Date:         January 21, 2012 11:50:19 AM EST

Subject:     SHAKSPER Discussion


As I looked at Hardy’s list of “wow” moments, what struck me is that we also have in the community of Shakespeare lovers a dichotomy between those who love the appropriation of Shakespeare’s characters and even words into settings and concepts foreign to the original (I’m not talking Shakespeare in language translation here) and those who find it annoying or deeply distressing or even sacrilegious.


Case in point: I truly loathed "Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo & Juliet", in part because Luhrmann called it William Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet, which to my mind it most definitely was not, and in part because I found certain changes distortions beyond acceptability.


Yet I’ve seen excerpts of a Taming of the Shrew done in the Chicago area by director/choreographer David Bell set in the US gangster '30’s which seemed to me spot on and screamingly funny.


I’ve seen the same actor as Mercutio twice in the span of a couple of years, loathed him in the first production (jammed into Victorian England by the old Stratford CT theatre) and loved him in the second, indeterminate-setting production at Circle in the Square, NYC.  (Granted, that could easily have been directorial conceits.)


Taymor’s Titus blew me away . . . but then I don’t know the text of Shakespeare’s Titus well, as I do many of the other plays.  Is it a matter of beloved texts not honoring our own conception of them?

I’ve seen so many Hamlets, set in so many places, but the ones I liked least were the ones that put the issues of the play into some other, non-antique-Denmark/England political/social setting where to me they just no longer rang true.


I lean toward “I don’t like resetting and reconfiguring Shakespeare,” but perhaps its partly “I don't like doing so and calling it Shakespeare’s own work”?

 If you do not feel this is too trivial a topic, or too likely to descend into heat instead of light (I recall the fuming over a former list-member’s repeated contributions of pornographic “Shakespeare”!), perhaps we can have a lively discussion on this topic?


Name the version and defend/attack it based on texts?


Mari Bonomi

Hoping to get to Staunton VA this spring, at last . . .


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