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Old July 1 2013, 05:31 PM   #78
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Re: Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing

Gaith wrote: View Post
^ Are they, though, or are we just so used to seeing them freely transposed that we've come to accept it as natural?

Actually, the time and place Shakespeare intended for them was 16th century England. If you put "Julius Caesar", "Antony and Cleopatra" or "Troilus and Cressida" in the title, that would not be funny... It would really be new and original to stage those plays in the time and place Shakespeare "intended", i.e. the way his company played them: with Julius Caesar, Brutus, Antony, Cleopatra, Achilles etc. wearing the costumes of 16th/17th century English people. Which is exactly what's usually done in traditional productions with Hamlet or King Lear - despite the obvious anachronism. Why not his Roman or Ancient Greek/Trojan plays as well? Why are they wearing togas in Julius Caesar?

And then there are those comedies and romances of his like A Midsummer Night's Dream or Winter's Tale that are staged without any regard towards geography or history.

Staging Shakespeare's plays in a modern setting is, in fact, far more faithful to Shakespeare, since that's exactly what Shakespeare himself was doing.

Sci wrote: View Post
Shurik wrote: View Post
Add to this the fact that the theatre was, at the end of the day, a mechanism for propaganda as much as it was anything else; all plays had to be approved by the Master of the Revels, and theatrical performances were subject to heavy censorship from the Elizabethan/Jacobian dictatorships. Elizabethan/early modern authors were very conscious of the fact that they were shaping the public's understanding of historical events for political purposes -- this was not something they shied away from. Hence why King MacBeth is the epitome of temptation and corruption, and the ancestors of King James are depicted so heroically.
And then there's Richard III, which is a very good play, but it reads like a propaganda piece more than everything ... Not surprising, considering Richard was the one whom Elizabeth I's granddad defeated on his way to the throne. Not that historical Richard III was a saint or something, but Shakespeare presents him as a complete monster devoid of humanity.
And on the flip side, there's Henry V, which depicts the title character in such unambiguously heroic terms that it would rival a North Korean biography of Kim Il-Sung in terms of being cult-of-personality propaganda.
Err... I don't think so. That description reads more like an account of watching Olivier's version of Henry V (or to a smaller extent Branagh's) than reading the actual play. Both of these films removed all subversive elements from the play - and there certainly are in the text, to the point that some critics have read the play as a smart, subversive satirical play under the guise of a patriotic hero story. Shakespeare was a smart fellow.

I almost wonder at moments how he got away with some stuff, such as a prose conversation between two minor characters who compare Henry V to Alexander the Great - which is a good thing, right? Or maybe not... When their point of comparison is that Alexander killed his best friend (they are commenting on Henry's treatment of Falstaff, and IIRC it comes shortly after Henry orders the execution of prisoners), and the Welsh comic character keeps calling him "Alexander the Pig"... which I'm sure was seen as just a big of lowbrow comedy for the masses (you see, the Welsh comic character mistakes "big" for "great" and mispronounces his "gs" as "ps")... That's all it was... or maybe not, since it's a bit too convenient - especially when you keep in mind the less than flattering way Shakespeare portrayed Julius Caesar and the Greek conquering heroes in Troilus and Cressida.

stj wrote: View Post
Nor do all aspects of Shakespeare really survive translation. Richard III really doesn't translate into thirties Fascism. It's about glorifying the Tudors by blackening their predecessor.
Actually, it translated wonderfully. And for 99.999% the audiences today, as well as a hundred years and two hundred years ago, Richard III isn't about the Tudors or their predecessors. Most people don't care about the Tudors or the Yorks or about the historical Richard (who, BTW, doesn't really seem to have been any nicer in real life, based on the available evidence; he's certainly likely to have ordered the death of his nephews). I would argue that it was never what the play was about; it was just why it was written. The play is about ambition and ruthlessness - about his incredibly ambitious guy's obsessed with power because of his other deficiencies, and will stop at nothing to become the ruler. That's a timeless story.

The vision at Banquo's feast is meaningless to us. A woman's statue coming to life (I've forgotten if that's Cymbeline or A Winter's Tale) had resonances that simply do not apply today.
There's this thing called Suspension of Disbelief. By your logic, most people today believe in vampires, zombies and superheroes, or how else is the fiction about them so popular?
Treason, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder.

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Last edited by DevilEyes; July 1 2013 at 05:53 PM.
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