The Bard of Avon!!
First, my warning: I do not hold the works of William Shakespeare on a pedestal, to be revered from far away, where only those with the malady of StickUpTheButtitis can be the only ones, the elite, to treasure the man’s work. I would not be the one on the stage balcony of the Globe, only wishing to be noticed, and in so doing, care only about that (take that, bourgeoisie!).
I’d want to be with the groundlings (not the famous, and well deserved to be, Improv company…although if they asked me to join, it couldn’t hurt). The groundlings, the common people, that made up the majority of the audience. The popular culturist of his time. I truly believe, and I say this to my students, that if Shakespeare were alive and writing today, he’d be writing for HBO or be a rapper.
So…considered the “English world’s greatest writer,”… but what chutzpah we have, in that editing Shakespeare’s plays is TAUGHT in schools/higher learning!! Meanwhile, a certain playwright who I won’t name (NS) would sue your pants off if you even changed an “A” in one of his plays and, in my opinion, NS is no Shakespeare. We edit Shakespeare for a number of reasons, time being one of them (well over two hours, in most cases, if the play is done in it’s entirety). Then we play around with setting, time periods, etc. as fits the whims of the director &/or the location it is being performed in.
So, I am in the process of EDITING SHAKESPEARE: “A Midsummer Night’s Dream“, one of my favorites. I have to take this way over two hour play and not only it edit it down for time, but also to make it an age appropriate program for a Drama Camp. If you don’t know, Shakespeare is full of bawdiness and innuendo, and his satire was aimed at the elite, the folly of men and women, and overall the plays that he adapted (yes, I said it: Shakespeare was one of the worlds greatest adapters) were rife with the socio-political climate of his day.
I’m almost done with my first edit. Since I am adding singing and dancing to the production, I am adding time as well, and more edits will have to happen. BTW… Thank YOU to Mr. Mark Rylance. I had the extreme pleasure of seeing “Measure for Measure” at The Globe Theater in London when he was the Artistic Director. He directed and starred in the production, and his going to the roots of how a show might have unfolded in days of yore was eye opening. Easily one of the best productions I’ve seen, and heard. You go to hear Shakespeare. It’s language is musical, when done well.
So, I will most likely have to edit this down even more after the first read through. I had a tough time “selling” this as the play I wanted to direct this summer. Big and splashy musicals always seem to hold more sway over the minds of what should be done. Audience pleasers. I hope that with the enthusiasm I have I can show what can be just as pleasing.
Shakespeare: never for just the “elite,” even if they still think it is so.
More over the summer about these trials and tribulations.
Have you ever edited a Shakespeare play? Why and werefore and to whit and hencewhy?
What was the best edited WS show you’ve ever seen?
Above, Mickey Rooney as Puck!!