April 24, 2004

Shakespeare, eh?

Sometimes following a link brings unexpected pleasures. That was the case when we went to this CBC story about a new website dedicated to the effect of Shakespeare on Canadian culture and then to the new site itself. Called Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare, the website deals with both high- and low-culture adaptations of the Bard, and runs the gamut from interviews with Canadian playwrights and academic essays to South Park and SCTV characters Bob and Doug Mackenzie.

"There are video clips of the Canadian film Strange Brew because it's a takeoff on Hamlet," explained [site overseer Daniel] Fischlin, who believes the project is the first attempt to explore in detail how Shakespeare has had an enormous influence on one country's culture.

"We have Wayne and Shuster's mock TV broadcast of a baseball game done mostly in lines adapted from Shakespeare, scenes from MacHomer, which is a blending of The Simpsons and Macbeth done by a Canadian, and a clip of the episode of South Park called South Park visits the Canadian Shakespeare Festival, an obvious reference to the Stratford Festival, the largest Shakespeare Festival in the world."

Another example of what's on the is Shakedown Shakespeare, a play written as a Shakespeare primer for young people by First Nations playwrights Yvette Nolan and Philip Adams. Their play was a response to schoolkids' complaints to Nolan about how boring Shakespeare was. In this excerpt, King Lear's Fool explains the ending of Romeo and Juliet to Hamlet:

HAMLET Great. So how'd it turn out?

FOOL Badly, actually. Bodies Everywhere. Okay so this wasn't a great example. But it was true love.

HAMLET How badly?

FOOL Well, Juliet took the medicine and the Elder sent a letter - snail-mail - to Romeo.

JULIET lies on the counter and takes the drug. She pulls her scarf over her head.

FOOL But Romeo never got the Elder's message -

HAMLET He shoulda' FAX'd her.

FOOL No machine. Instead, he ran into a friend at the post office who had just come from Verona, who said that Juliet was dead, had pulled a Kurt Cobain, so he got himself his own drug - poison - and hurried back to Verona to see for himself.

ROMEO enters the tomb, sees JULIET. Pulls back the scarf from her face.

ROMEO Oh Juliet, how can you be dead? You are still so rad. Eyes, look your last! Arms, take your last embrace! ( he opens the poison ) Here's to my love! ( drinks ) Thus with a kiss I die. Ouch.

Posted by Magpie at April 24, 2004 01:41 AM | The Arts | Technorati links |

Perfect post for Shakespeare's birthday (and death day)!

Posted by: Elayne Riggs at April 24, 2004 03:50 AM