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Bard Talk: The Shakespeare Thread:

A Mediocre Khan
Okay, we need a Shakespeare thread. Like, now.

Despite being fairly knowledgeable about Willy- having read several books about the guy-, I've only seen one of his plays in an actual theater, in this case, Twelfth Night, which I saw yesterday, making this a run-on sentence. That said, I have to say that few things are funnier than a well-performed Shakespeare comedy.

So, any other thoughts on the Bard? Let's get this thread rolling!
Pika is the bombchu!
I wish filmmakers could adapt Shakespeare without resorting to any of the following:

  • Keeping all dialogue, even though a lot of the original dialogue was supposed to be in lieu of complicated costuming or background scenery. Seriously, if you have proper costumes and props you don't need to describe them.
  • Transposing the plot to a new setting without changing a single word of dialogue. Look, fifteenth century dialogue makes sense in a fifteenth-century setting. If you move Romeo and Juliet to the twentieth century and they're still using fifteen-century vocabulary, you have failed. The important part is the plot, not the dialogue. And you can update the dialogue without spitting on the guy's grave.
  • Hyping the political allegory. I don't care if Shakespeare was directly insulting the nobility of his day; I seriously don't. The sociopolitical climate of the fifteenth century doesn't interest me in the slightest, get on with the story!

mudshark: I don't expect Nate to make sense, really
 3 Tzetze, Thu, 4th Feb '10 5:03:40 PM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
This board is depressingly empty.

So we just finished Hamlet in class. Reading it out loud off of the script, and watching the 1996 adaptation. I uh... didn't like it too much. A lot of things just seemed sorta disconnected, like Laertes coming back from practically nowhere, Hamlet's piracy adventure violating Show, Don't Tell like whoa, and everybody dying in three pages. Do I even need to spoiler that? Eh. Seemed very, I dunno, rushed.

I liked the clown though. :/
 4 blackcat, Thu, 4th Feb '10 7:38:59 PM Relationship Status: A cockroach, nothing can kill it.
Shakespeare. Yup, one of those things. Every year when I try to teach Shakespeare within the context of a theater class I allow myself one timed tirade about how English teachers make kids hate Shakespeare.

Getting a chance to act Shakespeare is great fun, even when the show itself may suck big time. Not that I have experience with this at all.
Love extends the boundaries of what people can accept, but don't depend on it.
 5 Mac Phisto, Sun, 7th Feb '10 11:06:37 AM from Cloud Cuckoo Land
Tell Me A Lie...
did Shakespeare ever act? I heard that he once played the King's ghost in Hamlet

Transposing the plot to a new setting without changing a single word of dialogue. Look, fifteenth century dialogue makes sense in a fifteenth-century setting. If you move Romeo and Juliet to the twentieth century and they're still using fifteen-century vocabulary, you have failed. The important part is the plot, not the dialogue. And you can update the dialogue without spitting on the guy's grave.

I actually thought that was brilliant
Tell Me A Lie... And Say That You Won't Go...
 6 Tzetze, Sun, 7th Feb '10 11:15:15 AM from a converted church in Venice, Italy
DUMB
Yes, Shakespeare acted quite often I believe. He wasn't extremely well-off, he had to work.
I like Shakespeare. King Lear and Julius Caesar in particular, of the ones I know.
 8 Mac Phisto, Wed, 10th Feb '10 8:19:00 PM from Cloud Cuckoo Land
Tell Me A Lie...
if Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Romeo and Juliet, and The Scottish Play are the "Big Five" of Tragedies, what would the "Big Five" of Comedies be?
Tell Me A Lie... And Say That You Won't Go...
Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night I've seen.

There's also...

Comedy of Errors Merchant of Venice Taming of the Shrew

Those right?
 10 Mac Phisto, Wed, 10th Feb '10 10:02:25 PM from Cloud Cuckoo Land
Tell Me A Lie...
I don't know, that's why I'm asking
Tell Me A Lie... And Say That You Won't Go...
 11 yukijin, Thu, 11th Feb '10 8:35:56 AM from behind the scenes
Best I've seen were Twelfth Night and Macbeth, both during Patrick Stewart's return to the RSC. I've read a few (but not enough)and acted in an adaptation of Midsummer. Out director tried to put it in a kinda modern setting (quite 50s) and as suggested above, it didn't really work. Some of the plays work well in a contemporary setting, but not every one.
...is out to lunch.
Queen of Filks
In Los Angeles, Shakespeare in the Park tries to do a production of a Shakespeare play in a more or less modern setting every summer. My particular favorite was probably setting The Merry Wives of Windsor in a 1950's, I Love Lucy-esque world. Overall I'm pretty cool with most updates - except that I think Baz Luhrman's Romeo + Juliet is a travesty against all that is good in literature.

As far as plays, I love Twelfth Night. It's hands down my favorite - great characters, beautiful poetry, a great story, and always a pleasure to watch performed. I especially heart Trevor Nunn's film with a great big heart, but I was honored to watch the RSC do the show in London this past January. *swoons* So much Ho Yay!

And I totally agree about Hamlet - I can't help but feel that Shakespeare finished it up on a rush job and wasn't able to properly work out a second or third draft. And I still don't like Fortinbras. But I'm doomed to be unsatisfied; my favorite character in that show is Ophelia.

 13 Ronka 87, Wed, 3rd Mar '10 5:31:24 PM from the mouth of madness.
Maid of Win
I don't know you can have a Big Five comedies like you have Big Five tragedies. They're the big five because those are the ones people remember.

His most popular comedies are definitely Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night (12th is awesome). After that... I like Much Ado About Nothing, it's a personal fav. The Taming of the Shrew is hard to watch just because it's so misogynistic (and no, even if you direct it to make Kate's speech at the end "ironic", it still comes out bad), but its adaptation was awesome.  * The Merry Wive of Windsor was popular in its day but it's largely forgotten now, I'd say The Comedy of Errors is on the obscure list... All's Well that Ends Well is another good one... and I haven't seen or read Love's Labours Lost, so I can't comment on it.

I'd put The Merchant of Venice with other "dark subject matter but ends well" stories like Measure for Measure, The Tempest and The Winter's Tale, even they are technically comedies. Well, the last two are Romances, but yeah. Tonally, I think they fit together better than outright farces and fantasies like Errors and Dream.

Has anybody read much of the histories? I did a course on them last semester, and I LOVED it. The histories are long but awesome. Richard III is the best evil character ever. Stopping a funeral procession for the King of England and convincing the woman whose father, father-in-law (the king), and husband you spent the last play killing to marry you? GENIUS. That's a masterstroke of evil, right there. And he just gets worse. Historical Villain Upgrade and propaganda or not, he's the best villain in theatre.

edited 3rd Mar '10 5:34:52 PM by Ronka87

Thanks for the all fish!
Would it be an appropriate homage to write under the pen name Dick Grabrod?

edited 20th Mar '10 3:47:28 PM by DonZabu

"Wax on, wax off..."

"But Mr. Miyagi, I don't see how this is helping me do Karate..."

"Pubic hair is weakness, Daniel-san!"
 15 frog 753, Thu, 25th Mar '10 7:52:21 PM from CT and/or MA
Figured this is relevant here: I just got back from the spring production by Hold Thy Peace, my university's undergraduate Shakespeare group. It was a late 1940's eastern Europe set Julius Caesar, and it was quite well done. Many of the characters were cross-cast, namely Brutus, Cassius, Marc Antony, Casca, and Decius. Marc Antony and Casca were actually played as women, but it was also amusing/interesting to see the Ho Yay between Brutus and Cassius as played by two very androgynous girls who are extremely good friends and roommates in reality. There was also a funny current season of Lost-esque factor in that Caesar and Octavius were played by the same guy, prompting an audience member to whisper (before Octavius was ever addressed by name) "Did he come back to life?".

Also, if the military uniforms worn in Act II are to be believed, Casca is East German, Brutus is in the USAF 5th Air Force, and Cassius is merely a corporal.

Excellent performances by all, though, especially the leads.
Flora Segunda | World Made by Hand | Monster Blood Tattoo

^You should read these series.
Queen of Filks
Good stuff!

My dad told me about a production of Julius Caesar my grandfather was in. A high-school production, with my grandfather in the title role. One evening when he was "killed", he happened to fall a little ways in front of the curtain. So when the curtain closed, he was still in front of it. My grandfather had to get up and walk off-stage.

Next scene: two fellas walk in "so now we bury Julius Caesar..."

Audience: "No, he just walked out that way!"

I'm always fond of some cross-casting. Then again, my first experience of Twelfth Night, The Winter's Tale, and... I'm sure something else... has been with the Los Angeles Women's Shakespeare Company, so it's to be expected.

 17 frog 753, Fri, 26th Mar '10 7:36:22 PM from CT and/or MA
We don't have a curtain...

So while we're talking about Shakespeare, I have seen The Tempest, Much Ado About Nothing, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, and now Julius Caesar.

I have read but not seen Macbeth and Othello. And sort of The Merchant of Venice, though I didn't quite finish it...

I have performed a monologue from Henry V, but it would be a stretch to say I've "read" it.

And I've never seen or read Hamlet, but I have seen Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead.

edited 26th Mar '10 7:36:51 PM by frog753

Flora Segunda | World Made by Hand | Monster Blood Tattoo

^You should read these series.
He wasn't extremely well-off, he had to work.
He owned shares to the theater, that's where most of his profit came from.
If an offense come out of the truth, better it is that the offense come than that the truth be concealed.
Shakespeare was an actor first and foremost. In his time period plays were worth very, very little in comparison with just about everything else. In all seriousness, his plays weren't really owned by him and playwrights were well known for stealing each-other's material. His did own stocks in his company since that was the most profitable and safe method of being a player at the time (ie: patent theatres, joint stock companies, dealings with the city of London, etc.).
 
 20 frog 753, Sat, 18th Sep '10 8:19:15 PM from CT and/or MA
Thread necro for great justice! I just came back from several hours of a Shakespeare "open mic". I left on a high note: A girl who graduated last year, back for 7 days before heading off to grad school in England, performed both sides of Brutus/Cassius scene from Julius Caesar (she was Brutus when last I saw her in one of our plays) quite well, and mostly from memory. Wow. Talk about intense. And unintentionally funny too, because she was basically arguing with herself.
Flora Segunda | World Made by Hand | Monster Blood Tattoo

^You should read these series.
As an amateur actor, I've been in three Shakespeare plays - Twelfth Night, Macbeth, and As You Like It. I've seen live productions of The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Romeo and Juliet, and most notably Othello, in a touring production starring Christopher Plummer and James Earl Jones. That last remains the best thing I've ever seen on stage.

Did I say I really, really like Shakespeare? :-)
 
Not Literally Me
I've seen Romeo & Juliet and Timon Of Athens , the latter and the reconstructed Globe Theatre itself.

Timon, for those who haven't heard of it, is a tragedy about a man whose 'friends' only hang around with him because he's rich and gives them money. When he ends up in debt they all leave him and he's left to die in poverty.

So a really cheerful play, all things considered.
"One thing, though- apparently the eldest goat is the bastard child of Muhammad Ali and the Hulk." ~ Exelixi, on The Three Billy Goats Gruff.
Team Edward James Olmos
[up] The first modern-dress Shakespeare production I ever saw was Timon of Athens. Works SO well in business suits.

Anybody read Measure for Measure? It's...pretty weird. It's almost like Shakespeare got tired of writing comedies and went, "Okay, fine. You want a comedy? Here, have your #%&@! comedy. I hope you choke on it." It fits all the conventions of comedy—starts in chaos, ends in order; lots of marriages at the end; proper leader is restored to power, and so on—but you like the chaos better than the order, two of the marriages are forced, and you're not sure how you feel about the leader.

I hated it until I saw a production of it that made it actually funny. Now I like it, but I still like to joke that pretty much every character could have used a Sassy Gay Friend.
"Godspeed, you fancy bastard."
 24 frog 753, Sun, 5th Dec '10 6:53:46 AM from CT and/or MA
Early last month, our Shakespeare group that I keep mentioning did The Winter's Tale, and it went quite well! I had expected it to be confusing or something, but I actually could follow the whole thing very well and quite enjoyed it. Definitely suffers from some bizarre Mood Whiplash, though, but we all know that going in, right? The legendary pursuing bear was essentially composed of light and sound effects, on the grounds that a person in a bear costume would be too corny.

Another great thing: The school's main newspaper actually reviewed it, and the other newspaper did an interview with the director ahead of time. Last year, as I may have mentioned before, Romeo and Juliet got semi-panned by an idiot who seemed not to understand the concept of a modern-dress adaptation, and Julius Caesar in the spring was completely ignored, the first of our plays to suffer such a fate. But this got a glowing review, and pictures on the cover of the newspaper's arts section!

edited 5th Dec '10 6:57:57 AM by frog753

Flora Segunda | World Made by Hand | Monster Blood Tattoo

^You should read these series.
Unchanging Avatar.
I wonder which ones were actually popular under Shakespeare? I mean, genius or no genius, he must have gotten writer's block and repeated a few.
Except for 4/1/2011. That day lingers in my memory like...metaphor here...I should go.
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