The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #86624   Message #1613123
Posted By: Grab
24-Nov-05 - 06:19 PM
Thread Name: shakespeare
Subject: RE: shakespeare
Just read a book by a guy called Gervase Phinn, who's a schools inspector in Yorkshire (N England). Kind of James Herriot in schools. Anyway, one story is that he goes into a classroom to find two kids out the front of class slagging each other off and drawing knives. He jumps in to stop them, and then finds it's practise for staging R & J. :-)

R&J generally ain't one of his best, I have to say. It's wonderful until about 3/4 through, then he pulls that crappy "let's-make-it-a-tragedy" bit out of his arse which lets down everything that went before it. For a better one, try King Lear or Macbeth. The BBC did "Macbeth on the Estate" about 10 years back, set in a criminal-run English tower block estate and using many people who'd never acted before, and it was phenomenal.

But most of the comedies don't work today. They're too based on wordplay, and we simply don't speak the same language today. For all that Peace says he was writing in English, he wasn't writing in any form of English that's familiar to us today. Imagine trying to perform The Importance of Being Earnest to an audience that doesn't know what trains, stations, handbags or prams are... Plus too many of Shakespeare's plot devices (mistaken identity for one) look stale and boring today (they weren't even original in Shakespeare's time), and frankly modern audiences have come to expect better plotlines than most of the comedies have to offer. If we see Shakespeare as just another playwright, then these are the equivalent of him doing hack work for a sitcom to make a few quid. The only comedies that really work are the ones with a somewhat stronger plot - so Midsummer Night's Dream and Twelfth Night, for examples.

Oh, and if people really want to attract kids to Shakespeare, then leave the rude bits in!