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Is this a bear that will never love fruit?
October 15, 2012 4:27 AM   Subscribe

King Lear with a happy ending (once more popular than the original!) Audio version. The Tempest with extra characters. Parody version of the tempest with extra characters (set in London). Romeo and Juliet, where Juliet fights crime as the Red Whirlwind, Verona is built on a floating island in the sky, and Prince Escalus is a tree (anime; manga). More unusual Shakespeare adaptations.
posted by gnimmel (23 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I can't find a source for it now, but I read somewhere that Davenant, that old proto-luvvie and theatrical innovator, used to do Romeo and Juliet with a happy and a tragic ending on alternate nights. Pick your preference - or why not see both!!!
posted by Segundus at 4:41 AM on October 15, 2012


When I read "A parody version of The Tempest with extra characters," I guess I was picturing, like, a version where they had too many actors so there are just sort of added parts.

MIRANDA

You have often
Begun to tell me what I am, but stopp'd
And left me to a bootless inquisition,
Concluding 'Stay: not yet.'

FRED

That's true.

PROSPERO

The hour's now come;
The very minute bids thee ope thine ear;
Obey and be attentive. Canst thou remember
A time before we came unto this cell?
I do not think thou canst, for then thou wast not
Out three years old.

MIRANDA

Certainly, sir, I can.

DAVE

Wow!

PROSPERO

By what? by any other house or person?
Of any thing the image tell me that
Hath kept with thy remembrance.

MIRANDA

'Tis far off
And rather like a dream than an assurance
That my remembrance warrants. Had I not
Four or five women once that tended me?

WARREN

Wow!

PROSPERO

Thou hadst, and more, Miranda. But how is it
That this lives in thy mind? What seest thou else
In the dark backward and abysm of time?
If thou remember'st aught ere thou camest here,
How thou camest here thou mayst.

MIRANDA

But that I do not.

JANE

I thought she would! What a surprise.

PROSPERO

Twelve year since, Miranda, twelve year since,
Thy father was the Duke of Milan and
A prince of power.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:15 AM on October 15, 2012 [11 favorites]


Oh, dear lord, Shakespeare. I've worked in theater and a college friend was a combat choreographer for years; have I ever seen adaptations of Shakespeare. I've seen a Mad-Max take on MacBeth, hippie versions of Romeo and Juliet, I worked on a production of Hamlet which featured a woman as Hamlet the princess of Denmark, I've seen a Shakepeare Haunted House and a commedia/vaudeville take on King John, and saw a show that crossbred MacBeth and Fast Food Nation, with Ronald McDonald in the lead, Colonel Sanders as the King of Scotland and a prophecy foretold by the Three Fry Guys. (It worked, believe it or not.)

A lot of people want to do some crazy, crazy shit to Shakespeare. But somehow the script is often strong enough that even in the most batshit production, something will stand out - the hippie Romeo & Juliet was the first one I've ever seen with a lead actress who really tried playing Juliet as a 14-year-old girl - all giggles and overwrought drama and the heartbreaking amount of childishness that 14-year-olds still have that makes the play so tragic. The Shakespeare Haunted House was the only time I've seen the three witches "Double Double Toil and Trouble" sequence staged in a way that genuinely creeped me out (they got the whole cast to dance around the cauldron and chanted it to this infectious stomp-and-clap jam); and Hamlet-as-a-woman opens up all kinds of interesting things with the Hamlet/Horatio relationship.

Mind you, I've also seen some utter crap - but sometimes the ideas that sound most batshit on the face of it are the ones that work really, really well.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:15 AM on October 15, 2012 [5 favorites]


It would appear that you left out Tromeo and Juliet.

Actually, thank you for leaving out Tromeo and Juliet.
posted by item at 6:35 AM on October 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


SHARKS/JETS dance, everybody!
posted by Artw at 6:37 AM on October 15, 2012


There's also Jean-Luc Godard's King Lear with Woody Allen as the Fool, Molly Ringwald as Cordelia, and Burgess Meredith as a gangster King Lear. Before Quentin Tarantino was a director, he falsely claimed that he was in Godard's King Lear in his acting resume, because he knew that the chances of any casting director in Hollywood actually having seen the film were nil.
posted by jonp72 at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2012


Verily, this clears up many odd things that showed up in my students' essays on Romeo & Juliet. Okay, not really, but dammit, whenever I showed the Luhrmann instead of the Zeffirelli in class, I swear, kids would write about Mercutio getting shot. (:head-desk:) Still, it *is* a testament to the Bard that his works can be restaged any number of ways to provide new insight.

I've seen a Shakepeare Haunted House
I would so buy tickets to that, if nothing else than to hear what Banquo & Hamlet's father would have to say to each other.
posted by smirkette at 6:48 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


I would so buy tickets to that, if nothing else than to hear what Banquo & Hamlet's father would have to say to each other.

If memory serves, they went more with the Three Weird Sisters and scenes from Titus Andronicus (a.k.a. "Shakespeare's slasher-film period").
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:57 AM on October 15, 2012


The oddest one I've seen is a "glam rock" production of Richard III. Once Richard becomes King everything became this sort of nightmarish David Bowie world, complete with soundtrack and Ziggy Stardust makeup on Richard. It sounds terrible so I have no idea how it got produced, but it was pretty great in finished form.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:08 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


the hippie Romeo & Juliet was the first one I've ever seen with a lead actress who really tried playing Juliet as a 14-year-old girl - all giggles and overwrought drama and the heartbreaking amount of childishness that 14-year-olds still have that makes the play so tragic.

The NC Shakespeare Festival did R&J this year and they played it that way. It was interesting, even though I went to a performance at the end of the run when they were getting a little ragged.
posted by winna at 7:12 AM on October 15, 2012


Bonus points for anyone that's seen a production of A Winter's Tale that included an actual bear.
posted by dry white toast at 8:24 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


Not a full adaptation, but I'm partial to Wayne and Shuster's Rinse the Blood Off My Toga.
posted by angiep at 8:26 AM on October 15, 2012


I've seen the Lion King series broken down this way:

The Lion King is Hamlet (with the happier ending)

The Lion King 2 is Romeo and Juliet

The Lion King 1.5 is Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
posted by gc at 10:49 AM on October 15, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem I always have with Shakespeare is that it's so hard to find good English translations. The modern-day Hamlet is one of the few movies where I just couldn't finish watching.
posted by ckape at 11:09 AM on October 15, 2012


Back in the early/mid 90s a few of my college friends were in a production of "Twelfth Night" where periodically the actors switched roles, so that by the end of the play everyone had taken a turn in every role. I rather liked it, although it was admittedly perhaps only good for those who knew the play. The gradual shifts in cast created assorted interesting ideas - the main one I remember is that a woman who played Sir Toby when hatching the plot against Malvolio ended up playing Malvolio when he shows up in the yellow stockings and gets humiliated.
posted by dnash at 12:33 PM on October 15, 2012


"Back in the early/mid 90s a few of my college friends were in a production of "Twelfth Night" where periodically the actors switched roles"

I directed a version of "Midsummer Night's Dream" somewhat like that, with six actors playing all the roles (because there are six Rude Mechanicals). Two actresses memorized Helena and Hermia and traded off the roles each time via a random lottery. Two actors did the same with Demetrius and Lysander. Meanwhile, another two actors traded off Oberon and Bottom. The Helena/Hermia actresses also switched off as Titania and Hippolyta, and the Demetrius/Lysander actors switched between Puck and Peter Quince. It was a lot of fun, and it added a layer to the identity switching that already happens in the play.
posted by grumblebee at 12:39 PM on October 15, 2012


It is not totally uncommon to do a staging of a Shakespeare play that emulates the way that Elizabethan performers would have seen it, with the actors learning their parts individually and never performing together until opening night. Such performances are raucously fun: the actors are totally rapt and have to be on their toes.

The problem I always have with Shakespeare is that it's so hard to find good English translations.

Translated from English to what?
posted by ricochet biscuit at 1:11 PM on October 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


If it ain't Lawrence Olivier your Hamlet ain't shit.
posted by Artw at 1:15 PM on October 15, 2012


Behold: METAL. MACBETH.
posted by Sonny Jim at 1:18 PM on October 15, 2012


My clue that I didn't want to watch the R&J anime, despite on-paper awesomeness, came during the first episode when an in-series character representing the Playwright is mocked for writing boring plays.

Great animation, though.
posted by subdee at 1:39 PM on October 15, 2012


subdee: That's all but what happens in Gnomeo and Juliet and voiced by Patrick Stewart. For shame.
posted by feelinglistless at 2:27 PM on October 15, 2012


There's a difference between a production concept and a wholesale re-adaptation or rewrite of one of Shakespeare's plays.

To whit, the Ethan Hawke "Hamlet" or the Baz Luhrmann "Romeo + Juliet" were fairly faithful versions of the story that made some editing choices, but didn't ultimately change the plays in a meaningful way.

The Tate "Lear" and the Dryden "Tempest" genuinely changed the text extensively.

My favorite story of Shakespeare adaptation gone wrong was a South African production of Othello during apartheid. According to one iteration of The Book of Lists, they couldn't have black and and white actors on stage at the same time, so they eliminated the character of Othello and replaced him with three other characters.
posted by Joey Michaels at 2:28 PM on October 15, 2012


And the Tate Lear is just a return to the original happy ending: the Queen's Men's "King Leir" (1585-7) ends happily, with Cordella and France rescuing her father, defeating her evil sisters and restoring him to the throne.

Shakespeare was the one who changed the story...
posted by jrochest at 5:38 PM on October 15, 2012


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