HOW AM I GOING TO DO IT?

Monday Magazine's Shakespeare aficionado talks producing the Legend's works

YOUYeah, you’re the director.  So how are you doing the play?

ME – I am going to do it very well.

YOU – But where are you going to set the play to get a new angle on the story?  People can’t take Shakespeare straight.  We need it relevant for now.

ME – Not important.

YOU – Explain!

MEI have seen lots of  Shakespeare plays up-dated so they are more related  to our own times.  Okay, but-

YOU – I once saw “Julius Caesar” set in Mussolini’s Italy!  Brutus and Cassius wore red armbands to show their leftist resistance to fascism.

ME – There is the first mistake.  Brutus and Cassius were actually cranky  aristocrats who resented Caesar’s populist land reforms and free corn doles to the working plebs of Rome.

YOU – I did not know that.

ME – You like the show?

YOU – It sucked!

ME – Why?

YOU – The verse thing.  It was all babble after the first two lines!

ME – The director’s second mistake.  Don’t get me wrong.  I have done plays in different times and places.  I produced and directed “Macbeth” setting it in Nazi Germany with Hitler as Macbeth and Lady Macbeth as Eva Braun.  It was a critical and commercial hit.

YOU – Buuut?

ME – I never let my “brilliant” re-set distract me from the main thrust of the original script.  I worked the actors hard on the sense of the verse and respected Old Will’s original intentions.  He had his message and I had mine.

YOU – I guess the comedies lend themselves better to modern times?

ME – They often do.  Comedy or tragedy it is vital not to direct the new setting all the while ignoring the demands of the original play.  It happens a lot.  You snub Olde Will?  He will turn hard and come back to bite you!

YOU – What’s the worst you’ve seen?

MEI was in a “Twelfth Night” production set in the Swing Era of Britain.  I had to secretly coach the actors in verse styles.  Their speeches were so slurred and confused they needed sub-titles.  The setting totally bombed.  It failed to dredge up any comic gold.  We got through it, just.

YOU – So, you are not against setting Shakespeare plays in different times?

ME – No.  I am doing “King Lear” in modern dress this summer.  But…

YOU – You are keeping to Shakespeare’s original intention?

ME – God, I hope so!

YOU – How about Donald Trump as Falstaff!

ME – Is there a copyright on it?

 

 

 

 

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