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Will Ferrell and Shakespeare | Fit for a Fool

By December 5, 2014 No Comments

This week in Foolery see’s Christmas shopping, legal cases citing Shakespeare Will Ferrell and Shakespeare fresh from Colombia, go on, play on!

Shakespeare from Colombia

Calle Luna has unveiled the show ‘Shakespeare’ – very different from their mainstream drama, this shows sees six Shakespeare characters (with generic names) set in an airplane set drama-thriller. This is to be “Brecht-Style” material. The hope of the producer is that as the audience gradually unearth Shakespeare’s identity they will reconsider the “psychology of some of the defining figures in Shakespeare’s tragedy canon”. Sounds like a brilliant premise to me, and here’s a bit more about it. To read the full article on the show click here.

“Shakespeare” imagines a Man (Hamlet), a Woman (Cleopatra), a Young Man (Romeo), a Girl (Desdemona), a Father (Lear) and a Soldier (Macbeth) as the passengers on Flight 008. Unknown to them, they face a brewing on-ground conspiracy. With an attempted kidnapping, an electric storm the plane’s loss of coordinates, and the imperative necessity for one of the passengers to jump to their death, tension builds tension to flashpoint. Finally, despite all the Man’s warnings, the characters fulfil their tragic destinies.

Not for the fainthearted, this show (which Calle Luna hopes to export) will offer a different kind of interrogation in the lives, and indeed afterlives, of some of Shakespeare’s most famous characters. Sounds like a great instance of Shakespearean appropriation and well worth checking out when it hits TVs.


3C justified by Shakespeare

The reboot, or rather play adaptation of Three’s Company (dubbed one of the first shows that said there was nothing wrong with being gay) has sparked much controversy and a legal case. Over in New York a federal judge has to decide if David Adjmi’s (a playwright) 3C is a breach of copyright of DLT Entertainment owned Three’s Company (a 1970s sitcom). It has a few differences from its predecessor, John Ritter has been cut and replaced by Brad who uses his homosexual identity (unlike Ritter in the original Brad actually is gay) to allow him to live with too women in Santa Monica.

The playwright behind 3C claims it comments on the “ways the TV show presented and reinforced stereotypes about gender, age and sexual orientation”. Such cases in the courts are common – it’s a fine line between using a source as inspiration and plagiarising  the work of another.  The amicus brief penned by David Faux, cites Shakespeare among others as justification for the use of others material to inspire a new production:

“Dramatists often draw on a broad variety of source material for inspiration for their works.Some have drawn on material in the public domain, like Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, which are both running on Broadway at present. But this practice is not a recent phenomenon. Shakespeare’s King Lear was based on a well-known folk tale, and there was another play at the time based on the same story (The True Chronicle History of King Leir).”

So if Shakespeare did it why not? Seems to be the attitude, but the dangers and legal ramifications of such projects are clear. To read more on the case and the full amicus check out this link. What do you think, what are the implications of citing Shakespeare as a re-hasher as a justification? Adaptations and appropriations of Shakespeare are in part what has kept his work alive, but when there’s no large gap removing copyright concerns (as the amicus notes with it’s King Lear example) what then are the implications? The case continues with 3C but as one commenter posted below the article perhaps indeed “appropriation is the cornerstone of art”. Speaking of gay, Shakespeare has been in the headlines again this week over speculation (again) that he may have been gay. Here’s a couple of articles to keep you busy. One, Two, Three!


I Will, take thee Shakespeare

This week news emerged that Will Ferrell (remember the bloke from Anchorman, Elf or The Intership?) is to play in a (as yet untitled) movie developed by Sony which is set to follow the story of a Shakespearean theatre company “who are hell-bent on doing the Bard justice”. Little information has been released regarding the movie, though we know it’s going to be a comedy CinemaBlend‘s report on this news was less than enthusiastic – partly due to the screenwriters whose previous projects they deem write-offs, but with the news of yet another Shakespeare inspired movie, it’s a call for excitement from Shakespeare foolery lovers around the world, and now it’s just a waiting game to see how good or bad this movie Will be. And it’s a different movie to add to the mix when news of a new James Bond and Star Wars and Jurassic Park trailers are populating the headlines.


Terms and Conditions

Recently Twitter and Facebook have announced changes in their terms and conditions, apparently to give us – the users – more power and to simplify the pre-existing terms. This was sparked by a “responsible use of data” report which earmarked Shakespeare as the benchmark of complexity, with this statement “terms and conditions are often totally impenetrable and more complex than Shakespeare” – depending on your relationship with Shakespeare this will probably mean different things to you, if you love his stuff and don’t find it a challenge to delve for meaning then perhaps you should try the Terms and Conditions of a social media site for a real challenge! But seriously, admittedly they have a point with this statement:

Let’s face it, most people click ‘yes’ to terms and conditions contracts without reading them, because they are often laughably long and written in the kind of legalese you need a law degree from the USA to understand.

I’m not sure many of us could lay claim to reading terms and conditions to every site. It’s faster not to. For some perhaps Shakespeare is something skim-read before moving onto the real social scene, but for others it’s a social bridge. It’s inevitable of course picking one author as an emblem of difficulty because to one he may be simple while to the other its another language. Shakespeare is one such example and given that he has cropped up twice in the legal sphere this week alone, it seems he’s a common one.
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We’re now firmly in the month of December Christmas trees are popping up everywhere and we’re demolished at least 4 chocolates from our advent calendars already. But if you’re stuck for gift ideas look no further than the final foolery story of the week.

Christmas Time, Mistletoe and.. Shakespeare

It’s that time of year when you’re struggling to find the gift for that special someone, friend or family member. If they’re a Shakespeare lover who is also partial to a cuppa now and again perhaps one of these offerings from the Shakespeare birthplace gift shop might be an option? Or you could even pick up one for yourself for those times you want a (Shakespeare’s) home brew.


Shakespeare's Birthplace Teapot










Happy Shakespeare shopping, and until next week keep foolin’ around Shakespeare style!

Author Sarah Waters

Sarah Waters is a PhD student at Oxford Brookes University, England where she is currently researching female melancholia in the early modern period (as presented in Shakespearean and early modern drama and proto-medical treatises) and contemporary female depression. She is interested in all things Shakespeare related, particularly contemporary Shakespeare adaptation and appropriation.

More posts by Sarah Waters

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