SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE – Bard on the Beach – September 2019

by admin on September 2, 2019

Judging by the sold-out audience for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, anything with the word Shakespeare in it is good box office.

The Vancouver Bard on the Beach company is following in the footsteps of other Shakespeare companies  and looking for new material, or old material re-worked, to enlarge their choice of plays.  The classic repertoire is a favourite source and last year we saw the Greek comic playwright Aristophanes’ LYSISTRATA,’ in an all-female cast, doing a wildly funny update of this famous anti-war piece with a contemporary feminist twist.

The Ontario Stratford Shakespeare festival now offers classical  musicals and plays by Shakespeare’s contemporaries. Last summer I saw a production of a little-known play there by the Elizabethan playwright, Thomas Middleton, called THE CHANGELING.  It was a brave choice and many of the audience didn’t make it past the intermission break. The language barrier was too great for our modern ears.

The Royal Shakespeare Company has been doing plays by other Elizabethan playwrights for years, as well as poaching on the territory of The National Theatre in London, by producing plays such as T.S. Eliot’s THE COCKTAIL PARTY, which I saw in their second auditorium some time ago.

Tom Stoppard’s original film script for SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE, has reversed the usual process of stage to screen adaptations and loosely based the current stage version on his hugely popular film. Maybe we’ll be seeing more of this happening in future at Vancouver’s Bard on the Beach, to keep the young audiences turning up.

Personally, I would like to see productions of Shakespeare translated into contemporary English so that everyone can see and understand his plays. If the French, German, Russian, Polish and Japanese can translate Shakespeare into their languages and appreciate him, why can’t we?

The alternative is we leave Shakespeare to a dwindling band of academics and scholars, as has happened to Chaucer, who is regarded as the father of English literature and Shakespeare’s source for many of his works.

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