Skepticism

Afternoon Inquisition 1.31

Last night, Tim3P0 and I went to the new Guthrie Theater (which is awesome, btw) to see Shakespeare’s The Two Gentleman of Verona, staged as though it were a 50s sitcom taping, complete with vintage cameras (feeding live video to screens on either side of the stage) and a doo-wop band singing during scene breaks. It was very fun.
I love it when people do creative things with Shakespeare.

So here’s the deal. Tell me what work (classic or otherwise–it could be an ’80s cartoon show, for all I care) you would like to see (or have seen, for that matter) set in what era/aesthetic. (Or tell me that you prefer your Shakespeare with puffy pants and elizabethan collars, thank you very much.)

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60 Comments

  1. I once got to see King Lear set in Victorian England. Peter Ustinov and Douglas Rain! How cool is that?

    I’d like to see Macbeth set in present day Wall Street, with geeks using chaos theory instead of witches.

  2. I’ve always wanted to live in the world of “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?”

    Partially because I totally dig that era of cars, suits, hats, and expecially the jazzy/bluesey music, but mostly because I want to live in a world where boobies go “Sproing!”

  3. Now that I think about it, any of the Shakespearean plays which depend upon women dressing as men (or rather, boys playing women dressing as men who invite men to hit on them as practice) would be remarkably fun to try in a Ghost in the Shell postcyberpunk future where swapping cyborg bodies is common practice.

  4. Glad to hear you liked the Guthrie show. My wife and I have tickets for next weekend for that same show. I can go either way with the Bard, enjoying both traditional and novel approaches to his work. Sometimes the non-traditional stagings do seem to try way too hard to be “different” and “edgy” and end up just being “crappy” instead.

    I like the new Guthrie OK, but they didn’t add enough space between seat rows. My wife and I are both over 6′, and I feel like I need knee-replacement surgery after sitting in one of those seats for a couple of hours!

  5. One of my favorites was an episode of Moonlighting called Atomic Shakespeare which was a very funny retelling of The Taming of the Shrew. It took place in the same setting as it usually does, but it had a distinctly modern twist.

  6. I saw Julius Caesar done in Franco’s Spain once-mighty interesting. I also did a full dramaturgy setup and set/costume design for a Gibson-esque cyberpunk Othello. Didn’t have the opportunity to bring it to stage, but I still have everything…

  7. I once saw a performance of Shakespeare’s The Tempest where the enchanted island was Australia in the late 18th Century populated by Aborigines.

    The set was designed to look like a barren desert, much like the Australian outback. So it seemed rather odd when Gonzalo said, “How lush and lusty the grass looks! how green!”

  8. I prefer seeing Shakespeare’s plays performed in black box theatres. It places more emphasis on the characters and less on the set, which is often grand and, in my opinion, takes away from the value of the play.

    That, or set in 1920s Harlem.

  9. There’s an excellent Norwegian book called “Ã…” that juggles stories, settings and genre like that. It includes an SMS-version of Romeo and Juliet and the story of David and Goliat in the style of a trashy western pulp novel.

    My brain threw up “Winnie the Pooh as cyberpunk”, but I think that’s just the late hour talking.

  10. I’d like to see Star Wars depicted on Earth in the present day. A young Arab man in Afghanistan sees his family murdered by the evil American Empire. He travels to America with the help of an Atheist truck driver and a Roomba that provides comic relief. All this leads to the thrilling final battle against Emperor Obamessiah.

  11. Mostly I like my Shakespear straight, but can enjoy any well done production.

    The best version of A Midsummers Night Dream I’ve seen was on the outdoor stage at The Old Globe Theater here in San Diego. Under the stars, right next to the zoo, with all the random animal calls in the background.

    In addition, they gave Oberon two faery henchmen who wore all black armor, and moved almost in synch with each other. The director described them as: “I’ll have a beer, and two for my faeries.”

  12. I’ve already directed Richard III set in the post-Civil War Reconstruction period. I had Richard in a Union uniform, with the Lords and such as robber barons. Richmond was Malcolm Reynolds, essentially, but the outfit gave him an appropriately Populist look.

    I wouldn’t mind doing it again, some day, with a non-zero budget this time.

    I do like Rebecca’s idea, though.

  13. Also, I feel somehow that I must suggest Casablanca… in SPACE as well, though.

    And has anyone done War of the Worlds as a blog yet? The original reads enough like a journal that it shouldn’t even need much adaptation.

  14. @Blake Stacey: Or, EVEN BETTER, Richard III in the present-day Marvel Universe. Ian McKellan reprises Richard and Magneto at the same time. Reed and Sue Richards’ kids could be the twins in the tower. Tyrol is The Punisher!

    RICHMOND IS SPIDER-MAN HOLY CRAP THIS WOULD BE AWESOME.

  15. @Joshua: Are you refering to the movies or comics or cartoon?

    In the movies I think Cyclops died and Prof X managed to transfer his own conciousness into another person body.

    As for the comics there are some many alternate realities that I don’t know. I don’t keep apprised of the comic book situation.

  16. Yeah, I’m not counting the X-Men movies, since they just confuse things. But in the current Uncanny X-Men series, the X-Men have moved to San Francisco with Cyclops as their leader. I don’t know what actually happened to Professor X, though, and I’m too lazy to look it up.

  17. Professor X is dead?!

    I don’t… I don’t know how to process this.

    I think Kitty Pride was the object of my absolute first adolescent crush. In Mojo Mayhem (Excalibur) she’s on a train thinking about how Wolverine taught her how to get to sleep real fast, and she’s in her undies, and oh god…

    I think it was Mojo Mayhem. That was a while ago

  18. The Cask of Amontillado’s a favorite of mine, I think that could be fun in almost any setting. Maybe mummify someone in a pyramid. It’s a little too quick and easy to just send someone out an airlock, so space might be boring. It’d be much more fun with immortals, maybe vampires. There we go, a Twilight crossover. Or pirates! Bury ’em up to their neck in sand. Lots of potential there.

  19. I still fondly remember seeing a production of Macbeth as a 16 year old student, with the opening scene done as it should be…3 distinctly non-cronish, young and rather voluptuous witches, prancing round the cauldron totally starkers. :o)

  20. @Protesilaus: Damn, that felt good. Can we do it again with CBU’s? Napalm?

    War of the Worlds as done by the Muppets.

    Ben Hur as done by the Animaniacs.

    The Last Temptation of Christ as done by the original Monty Python team.

    The Birds as done by Colonel Sanders..

  21. @carr2d2: I knew it was a complement (thank you very much), I was just continuing on with the Titus fun with all that baking your nemesis’s sons in a pie and serving it to said nemesis stuff.

    @Tim3P0: I don’t think I’ll ever think of Hamlet again without hearing Gilbert Gottfried’s voice spewing , “SOMETHING IS ROTTON IN THE STATE OF DENMARK!!!”

    Julius Cesar done by the cast of 24. Jack Bauer says, “be gone with your base spaniel fawnings”.

  22. @Katherine: There was actually a show produced in 1997 called Play On! which was a musical based on Twelfth Night using the music of Duke Ellington and set in the Harlem Renaissance.

    As to the original question, I worked on an all female production of Othello set in Franco’s Spain which turned out pretty well and had some interesting implications. But in general I find classics- in-a-different-setting shows/movies to be gimmicky and irritating. That may be just be burn out; one can only see so many versions of classical plays set in the 1970s Van Nuys porn industry before getting fed up with the whole thing.

  23. Hey there! total newbie, here.

    When I was younger, my best friend found out short notice that he’d been selected to student produce-direct a show. I helped him with the production since it was so short notice. We had zero budget and had to be extremely creative.

    We decided on Moliere’s School for Wives (public domain, no moolah needed) set in an artist colony of squatters (massive budget savings on sets and costumes). When our Alain quit the production, we had no means to replace him. Since all of Alain’s dialogue is cued on Georgette’s, our Georgette new the dialogue pretty well, so we turned the character of Georgette in to a crazy spinster who talked to herself and replaced Alain with a sock puppet (both to Smite the actor who left and provide a means to the end). We cut the play and added embellishes to make Arnolphe the owner of the building/warehouse which the squatters occupied. I don’t remember everything, but we desperately played with the dialogue and staging to make the whole thing work. And I think the production was funnier for it. And the satire-on-satire played off quite well.

    For all the chaos that went in to it, it appeared very polished and intentional. It was the first time I’d ever seen the creative process work.

  24. @carr2d2: Seriously, if you get the opportunity to see MacHomer, jump on it. It is extremely funny, and lasts a bit more than an hour…which is really just the right length. Some of this guy’s voices are great. (His Marge in particular is amazing.)

    I hadn’t watched the TV show itself for years when I saw this, so it was just really great nostalgia for the good old days.

  25. In Vancouver, BC last year, Bard on the Beach did Titus Andronicus set to a 1940’s WW2 era theme.

    It was absolutely amazing and I also love seeing live theater done in non-traditional and unique ways.

    If I had a chance though, I’d love to see Romeo and Juliet set in a 1950s greaser gang theme. Now that would be neat.

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