1.) What do we think of past re-imaginings of Shakespeare, intended to make them more accessible to a modern audience and in particular modern youth? Are they correct to do so or not, are we in favour or against? If no then why so? If yes...

2.) Then what are the best re-imaginings currently in circulation, and why so? (For those who said 'no' to the previous issue, this is an opportunity to express how you think traditional Shakespeare should be presented?)

3.) Can these re-imaginings be put to our advantage as atheists, brights, humanists, naturalists; through skilful rewrites, editing and the like?

Tags: 21st, Art, Atheism, Brights, Century, Film, Humanism, Modern, Naturalism, Shakespeare, More…Theatre, Writing

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Replies to This Discussion

By way of expanding upon the 3rd point, I would just point out that with only a little editorial effort a play like Hamlet can be rendered totally naturalistic if we think of Hamlet as insanely delusional and suffering from hallucinations, the apparition of the king becomes one of mental instability and not of supernaturalism.

Alas, if memory serves, he is not the only character to witness the ghost? For it is Horatio and some soldiers/guards who first draw Hamlet's attention to the ghost which reappeared on several consecutive nights, in spite of his absence. It would take a little re-working to make Hamlet the sole observer of the spirit and thus make it seem like a product of is own imagination.

This is the most overt example of what I mean by point 3; overt in that it completely negates the supernatural undertone of Hamlet's motives and replaces it with a psychological source.
I'm all for it, whatever your 'Re-Imagining' means - from unconventional mise-en-scène (I've seen a great Lear in a Mafia setting) to altering/rewriting the plays or paraphrasing them (as Kurosawa did with Ran), or even re-imagining the Bard's Life (as in Shakespeare in Love.)

If Shakespeare was alive today, I think he'd like to have his plays recycled into new material.
to altering/rewriting the plays or paraphrasing them (as Kurosawa did with Ran)

Well, that's a great way to see it Jaume. However, Kurosawa was a master, wasn't he? And I don't necessarily see him as modern. I mean, I took Christopher's post to mean really modern. For example, I thought the Romeo + Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio was dreadful and inadequate. (But even that is probably 10 years old now.)

Most modern versions I've seen of Shakespeare have been quite bad, I thought. Even the BBC screws it up sometimes.
True. But my point was more like "I've no objection to people doing today what Kurosawa did a few dozens years ago."
Hmm, not sure how I missed this discussion thread.

1.) I have mixed feelings. I kind of feel that dumbing it down for people is counterproductive. I guess some age-appropriate considerations are fine, but when people are of an appropriate age, they should be exposed to it as is. On the other hand, we dumb down science and math and other subjects as part of a step by step process of learning it. It gets successively harder. My problem though is that these re-imagined versions are likely to be the only exposure some kids have to Shakespeare, and that would be unfortunate.

However, on the other hand, visual artists reappropriate classics all the time (like the Mona Lisa), and I don't necessarily have an issue with that, as long as people know what the original work was like.

2.) Well, I think it should be presented as intended, as much as possible. I don't mind people updating costumes and locations at all, though. I think my biggest problem with modern versions is that most actors are incapable of sprezzatura when acting out Shakespeare. They always overdo it.

3.) I don't know how to answer that. I don't think I could easily, anyhow.

Alas, if memory serves, he is not the only character to witness the ghost?

Correct.

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