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O What Fools | Twihards, Reputation and more | Shakespeare Foolery News for the Week of November 16, 2012

By November 15, 2012 No Comments

Twilight of a Movie Franchise

I’ve never read the books or watched the films, but you’d have to live under a rock to not have heard about the Twilight films starring a sparkly vampire and the vapid girl who loves him (oh, and a werewolf who takes off his shirt).  Indeed, I think you’d hear about these films/books even under a rock.

While looking for the odd news to bring to you today, I came across this review of the latest Twilight film which pointed out that it was “not exactly Shakespeare.”  Obviously, this is using Shakespeare as a reference to great literature, as is often the case in our culture.

This always amuses me because Shakespeare is now defined as high culture (a dividing line for good taste) but that’s not how he was seen in his day.  Think about his plays–taking plots and characters from other books at the time, sensationalized plots (cannibal pies, rape, murder, bloody body parts!), songs and fools, etc.  They were the common entertainment of the day, not much above our soap operas or, indeed, the popular but not very well respected Twilight movies.

Am I saying that Twilight should be seen as good as Shakespeare?  No, let’s face it, despite Shakespeare writing for a sensation driven crowd and just trying to please them and earn some money, he churned out some fantastic writing that is still admired over 400 years later.  I doubt the Twilight novels or movies will be admired in even 100 years.  What little I know of them is that they are not well written and the films take the poor writing and add bad acting.  However, I think we do make the mistake of holding Shakespeare up as if he were that different that the popular entertainment of our day.  Maybe there is a reason why young folks flock to the movies and not to the theatre.  They just don’t see how Shakespeare was the Tarantino of his time–popping out sensationalized entertainment to get an audience’s attention.  Sure, the plays are well written but they also are entertaining summer blockbusters in their own way.

Toil and Trouble: A comedy

Here’s a play that sounds interesting, Toil and Trouble, taking a play off of everyone’s favorite Scottish play, and also having a bit of fun with hipsters, sheep, and joblessness.

a couple of recent college grads with no money or prospects of any sort (except a business backer in the form of Nana), put their you-can-do-it-too mentalities to work, as in “Toil and Trouble,” Impact Theatre’s most recent comedy production? You get Adam (Michael Delaney) and Matt (Will Hand), two young San Francisco 20-somethings with too much college education (and not enough employment) for their own good. Adam has an MBA, and Matt studied something liberal. Adam believes that “the balls of the future are in our hands!” with a potential plot to market traveling cots that literally follow their owner around. Matt believes that, “We might just have to tuck away our master’s degrees and try to get hired anywhere.”

Has anyone seen this play?  Tell us about it; we want to hear from you.  It sounds completely odd, but maybe in a good way.

MacHomer:  The Simpson’s do Macbeth in a one-man spectacle

Speaking of odd, one man doing voices from The Simpsons doing parts in Macbeth?  I’d go see it if it came to my area!

Apparently the show is ending but it’s been popular and is used in high schools to help teach the play:

“Both Shakespeare and The Simpsons, in a way, acted as a mirror to society and I think there’s a lot to learn from that,” Miller said. “Let’s be honest, high school students hate Shakespeare and if I’m making that learning more experience more enjoyable for them, I can’t complain.”

 Lottery Funding to the Rose Theatre
“Plans to resurrect London’s Elizabethan Rose theatre have been boosted after a Heritage Lottery Fund development grant totaling around £250,000 was awarded to the trust managing the site.”  Good news for fans of theatre archaeology.
I can remember seeing the site when work first began on it (I was there in 1989–right after it was discovered and you could see parts of it) and how excited I was.  It’s come a long way since then and this money will help them excavate the final third of the site.

Romeo and Juliet in a Deer Stand

Camo and hunter’s orange are going to be onstage for this production.

Romeo and Juliet in Da Midwest should come with a piece of this cake
They speak many of the same lines that Shakespeare wrote, but he’s added a few “ya betchas” and has the star-crossed lovers talk via cell phone part of the time. When Juliet asks “Where for art thou,” she adds “I stalked you online and found your name.” Of course, the balcony is in a deer stand.Butt also added contemporary puns and frankly, has had some fun with it.”I’m making fun of Shakespeare, I’m celebrating Shakespeare,” he said. “I’m pulling it into modern time. I’m doing it all in one fell swoop.”The resulting play, “Romeo and Juliet in Da Midwest,” which he also changes into a comedy, will be performed this weekend at the school.
I think I’ll just leave this news here without further comment because I’m speechless.

Bard Bites:  Short Notices of News
*  An all female cast of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar--unfortunately labelled in the media as “Bard’s Babes” and “Bard’s Lasses”–opens soon.

*  Russia has denied entry to a teacher from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust who was going to teach Shakespeare to children because his entry would deny a job to a local.

“Shakespeare is my overwhelming passion and I wanted to inspire through his work,” said Mr Lesser. “The idea was to put on two or three full-length performances and through the rehearsals teach the children stagecraft, how to speak the verse in the original English and so on.” The young actor agreed to work for a modest £500 a month. . . . Local labour officials said the region already had 14 out-of-work people who could head an artistic club, or a Russian could be trained to take the post.

*  The Petraeus sex scandal is given some Shakespeare references with Macbeth and Iago and a reflection on reputation in this opinion piece.  Maybe I’ve just seen too much of this particular story in the news, but the Shakespeare references didn’t excite me much.

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