Monthly Archives: September 2012

When there’s a William, there’s a way

Path along Avon River

Path along Avon River near Saltford, North Somersetshire. Image courtesy of Derek Lilly, Morguefile.

Oh, boy. I heard from a fellow blogger this week that one of my favorite writers, Joss Whedon, created a new movie version of William Shakespeare’s play, Much Ado About Nothing. Now this is going to be a must-see movie for me whenever I can get a copy. Joss Whedon is a supremely talented screenwriter and Shakespeare is my favorite playwright. It sounds like a recipe for success to me!

But that’s the beauty of Shakespeare. I’ve seen his plays performed in several ways. One version used classic Elizabethan clothing, while other versions tried 1912 clothing and modern-day clothing. I’ve even heard of a 1970s hippie version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. I’m just waiting for the day that somebody decides to do a Vegas version with one of the kings dressed up to resemble Elvis.

Hey, don’t giggle. Theater people are a creative bunch. It could happen.

Shakespeare is so timeless that you can stage him in almost any way and his messages about human behavior still shine through. The guy hit it all in his comedies and tragedies: ambition, misguided love, revenge, racism, loyalty, idiocy, jealousy, betrayal, mistaken identity, grief and wooing difficult members of the opposite sex. Okay, the characters speak a version of English that makes some students yelp and run for cover, but part of the fun is figuring out what the characters are saying. And when the actors are talented enough, the meaning comes through anyway.

I’ve always wondered about the relationship between Beatrice and Benedick in Much Ado About Nothing. What happened to them prior to Benedick going off to the war? The only clue we’ve given is something Beatrice says to Don Pedro: “Indeed my lord, he lent it (Benedick’s heart, she means) me awhile; and I gave him a double heart for his single one.”

When they meet again, they hide their real feelings behind witty words and do their best to put down the other. Benedick says, “I cannot endure my Lady Tongue.” And Beatrice has one insult after another for the poor guy. But Benedick gives as good as he gets. Finally, they have to be conned into admitting their real feelings for one another. Neither one wants to be vulnerable and wants the other one to admit those feelings first.

I’m constantly amazed that Shakespeare’s been gone for almost 400 years and we’re still performing his plays. I guess that as long as humanity lasts, so will Shakespeare.



Filed under Writing