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Full of Sound an Fury: Taking Shakespeare from “Deadly” to Transforming for Modern Audiences Kelli Lynn Shermeyer University of Delaware March 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Full of Sound an Fury: Taking Shakespeare from “Deadly” to Transforming for Modern Audiences Kelli Lynn Shermeyer University of Delaware March 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Full of Sound an Fury: Taking Shakespeare from “Deadly” to Transforming for Modern Audiences Kelli Lynn Shermeyer University of Delaware March 2011

2 Peter Brook and The Empty Space

3 What is Deadly Theatre The assumption that there is a “correct” way to peform a play People expect to see the play done a certain way because of a preconceived idea of “high culture” Directors refuse to depart from the “traditional way” of staging a play The idea that there is a “formula” for a successful production of a specific author Classics, like Shakespeare’s works, are particularly susceptible to this

4 The Deadly Director “Deadliness always brings us back to repetition: the deadly director uses old formulae, old methods, old jokes, old effects; stock beginnings to scenes, stock ends; and this applies equally to his partners…A deadly director is a director who brings no challenge to the conditioned reflexes that every department must contain”.

5 Shakespeare as the Victim Shakespearean texts can be mistreated by directors and audiences who put them in a box The power of tragedy is to transform an audience, to access the depths of our humanity The power of death on stage—and the suspension of disbelief – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead

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7 Issues with Shakespeare Today 7Ow 7Ow What are some good modern adaptations? Do they keep the original language or do they just keep the plot elements?

8 “The Text is your god” If what you are doing doesn’t mesh with the text, then you’re doing something wrong. This does not mean the text isn’t open for editing-the pluses and minuses of public domain The greatest sin a director can commit is to lead his production in a direction that is away from the original spirit of the text – Midsummer example: E-52/REP productions

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11 The Virtues of Editing—regardless of placement “That guy”—people who expect certain parts of the play to remain the same Simplifying certain sounds Vocabulary—don’t “dumb it down” Cutting scenes ? – R&G as an example of a modern playwright who encourages active textual editing

12 Shakespeare’s Clues Punctuation Iambic Pentameter Verse/ Prose And But, Yet, Now Oh! Ah!

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14 Good adaptations: imw&feature=related imw&feature=related Even though it uses the original language, this version of Hamlet is not only in the “spirit” of the original production, but alters the pauses, and cadence of the play in order to better suit our natural pattern of speech

15 Making the Bard Modern Never forget: The Bard IS modern “The Text is your god” Be aware of the historical context of the play. Ignorance in this area does no one good – You will miss important historical references, like the Gunpowder Plot, King James’ obsession with witches or the execution of Henry Garnet Decide what about the play is compelling to you as a modern thinker? Be realistic about what may translate, but rely on the suspension of disbelief phenomena

16 Continued… When in doubt use Occam’s razor aka aim for simplicity, as it is probably the best resolution Don’t get too caught up in spectacle—the use of modern theatre technology can really add wonderfully to a production, but it can also weigh it down. Choose your effects carefully. – American Shakespeare Center Never underestimate your audience

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18 When it doesn’t quite translate…Magic and Demons Concerns of Directors: – The thin line between scary and funny – How to deal with audiences that aren’t as superstitious or sensitive to magic as they once were – Finding areas where we can “tap in” to mainstream beliefs and cultural moods –

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