Sunday, October 3, 2010

Notes on Rescripting Shakespeare - Conclusions

There is commonly a disparity between what directors will say in response to interviewers' questions and what they are able to manifest under the constraints of limited time and budget, and Dessen has therefore cited examples mostly from his own notes (236).

Despite what any theatre historian may say about original practices or conditions, there is actually very little that can be said about either with great certainty (237).

cf Wells, Stanley. "Shakespeare's Text on the Modern Stage." Shakespeare-Jahrbuch 1967. West. p. 189

"On a spectrum that ranges from the Second Quarto of Romeo and Juliet to West Side Story at what point does one move from interpretation to rewrighting?" (238)

"Staging Shakespeare's scripts on a reconstituted Globe stage certainly does not serve as The Answer to All Problems, with or without strictures from the Authority Police" (239).

cf Berry, Ralph. On Directing Shakespeare. London. 1989. esp p 79 - 80.


Dessen is spot on when he says that it is ultimately the ticket buying public who will determine how much rescripting is needed to make the works of the early modern stage accessible to modern audiences (240). It is important to remember that too much rescripting can also be a bad thing. How much custom music, Indian boys, and cutting can Midsummer take before it becomes both alien and inane from Shakespeare's text? If a one person Hamlet can work in 90 minutes, why should a 15 person Hamlet take more than thrice as long? Ultimately, if directors rescript too much, they run the risk of trying to fix something that isn't broken. There is a reason that, despite 400 years of linguistic and cultural static, these plays are still performed.


Dessen, Alan C. Rescripting Shakespeare: The Text, the Director, and Modern Productions. Cambridge. Cambridge UP. 2002.

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