TheatricalProductions are ephemeral. Even if a production is recorded on film, the actual experience can never be exactly reproduced. This quality is arguably the quality, along with the live performance thereof, that distinguishes theatre from other forms of art. This is what enables plays to be performed dozens, hundreds, or thousands of different times.

So let's say you have a famous show that is always thought of as being performed or interpreted in a certain way. Then one day somebody decides to revive it, but with a big twist on the plot that changes the way the entire production is done. Congratulations, you've got yourself an AlternateShowInterpretation, a large-scale defiance of OriginalCastPrecedent.

The German term is "Regietheater" (literally "direction theatre") and the trope forms an important part of German theatre culture.


* The TurnOfTheMillennium revival of StephenSondheim's ''Theatre/SweeneyToddTheDemonBarberOfFleetStreet'' (produced first in the U.K., then on Broadway) sets the whole thing in an insane asylum, drops the ensemble, and the remaining performers -- the leads and supporting cast -- play instruments when they aren't singing.
* Over the years, StephenSondheim's ''Theatre/{{Company}}'' has undergone a transformation as to the concept behind the concept musical: in the original production, there was more of a focus on the show being a series of vignettes about married life, but later productions (particularly the 2006 Broadway Revival) interpret the text as a narrative about Bobby's isolation and inability to connect with people as his friends do.
* The Fiasco Theatre production of StephenSondheim's ([[RuleOfThree noticing a trend?]]) ''Theatre/IntoTheWoods'', which depicts the story as told by a bunch of people using whatever they have, playing multiple roles.
* Similarly, the 2002 film version of ''Film/{{Chicago}}'' set all but two of the musical numbers as part of Roxie's imagination.
* The original production of ''Theatre/{{Assassins}}'' was off-Broadway at Playwright's Horizons. The Broadway production was the first time the idea of [[TheNarrator the Balladeer]] [[spoiler: turning into Lee Harvey Oswald]] was implemented.
* Many, many, ''many'' productions of any Shakespeare play--particularly ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}''--decide to take wildly different interpretations of the text. Given how standard the practice of cutting his plays is these days, it's not surprising.
** Instead of painting his face black to play Theatre/{{Othello}}, Creator/PatrickStewart played the titular role in a racially inverted production, opposite an otherwise all-black cast. This was by all accounts one of the more unusual productions of the play in recent memory. And it was ''awesome''.
** A recent BBC television adaptation of ''Theatre/{{Macbeth}}'', which also happened to include Patrick Stewart in the title role, played him as an {{Expy}} of UsefulNotes/JosephStalin.
** It's not uncommon for productions of ''Theatre/JuliusCaesar'' to have Romans dressed as Nazis.
** Steampunk Shakespeare is a thing.
** In the 2011 Oregon Shakespeare Festival production, the only change was making Caesar a woman.
** There was an adaptation of Titus Andronicus that, at the end, revealed the setting to be an asylum and that all the characters were inmates.
** The recent Broadway production of Macbeth starring Alan Cumming. Set in a psychiatric ward, Cumming plays a deeply disturbed man who impersonates almost every character in the show, occasionally leaving clues as to who the patient is, why he is recounting this story, and what has led him to become so tortured. There are only two other actors, who portray doctors commenting on his madness.
** The 2015 performance of Theatre/TheMerchantOfVenice, by the Royal Shakespeare Company in Straford-upon-Avon itself, interpreted the love story as a polyamorous romance between Antonio, Bassanio and Portia. None of the text was changed, but Antonio and Bassanio spent much of the play kissing and embracing, with Portia looking on happily.
*** Some productions have told the story as a tragedy, with Shylock as the protagonist.
* The Berliner Ensemble performance of Schiller's "Der Parasit" ("The Parasite") re-enacts the whole play with actors in puppet outfits (with fake legs and fake arms, done with a sleeve connecting the wrists almost directly to the shoulder). One key character is played by a dozen different actors who pop out of boxes on the stage to chant his lines. The Queen is played by a man (Axel Werner). A comedic sound effect is played for ''every single action''. Needless to say, the actual content of the play becomes moot.
* Modern performances of Creator/BertoltBrecht plays almost demand this trope, to keep the audience alienized, as Brecht wanted it. Common tactics include the use of words projected onto a screen (one of Brecht's favourite tactics), having the actors protest their stage directions, having the actors switch roles halfway through, using minimalist sets, and name-checking Brecht.
** One memorable Berlin performance of "St. Joan" (in the Deutsches Theater) started out with four actors fighting over who got to play which character, all reading from cheap paperback copies of the play. Once they finally all managed to get a private part in the play, they found themselves stuck in the middle of a tragic plot, and desperately tried to stop being these characters again (with varying levels of success). Meanwhile, the actors and a miniature cardboard cityscape were filmed live and projected onto a screen, with the SFX crew clearly visible, and as the plot got more dramatic, the floor disappeared from under the actors, slowly forcing them back towards the screen. On which a counter was displayed showing how many people had died of poverty and hunger worldwide during the performance of the play alone. Oh, and? It ''didn't change or add a single word'' from Brechts original script. The whole thing was a huge CrowningMomentOfAwesome.
* A 2011 Los Angeles production of Bernard Pomerance's ''The Elephant Man'' chose to defy in-script instructions that the lead actor not use any kind of makeup/costume to suggest his deformities (he must use body language and vocal distortion instead) in favor of outfitting the performer in an elaborate prostethic suit.
* The acclaimed 2008 U.K. revival of ''Theatre/LaCageAuxFolles'', which transferred to Broadway in 2010, was deliberately smaller-scale than the original CostumePorn and SceneryPorn-heavy 1983 Broadway staging that had become the precedent. This was something writers Harvey Fierstein and Jerry Herman had wanted for years; as Fierstein explains in the liner notes of the 2010 cast recording, "I wrote about a small drag club but what we've always given the audience was a full-blown Folies Bergere....I've witnessed a lot of productions focus more on the farce and less on the heart."
* The 2015 Deaf West Broadway Revival of ''Theatre/SpringAwakening'', which cast several deaf performers in the roles, making their characters deaf as a result. The deaf performers would sign while hearing actors (who also made up the band) voiced their dialogue and singing. The change really heightened the themes of miscommunication and alienation and changed some of the shows relationships. The biggest change is the show incorporating the policies for the deaf enacted in education at the time, such as forbidding sign language and forcing the students to speak. As a result, [[spoiler: Moritz being intentionally flunked out of school is significantly harsher than the original as it seems like the teachers want to keep a deaf student out of the school and, in turn, their adoration of Melchior is because he can hear.]]