Ah, ah, ah—true Shakespeare mustn't stray but a hair's breadth from the source!
Earlier this week, the opinion pages of the Wall Street Journal, noted
cesspool venue for nuanced cultural commentary, weighed in on a question that has long vexed us here at the Washington City Paper: whether Shakespeare without words can properly be considered Shakespeare.
Taking as his inspiration the upcoming Synetic Theater revival of its movement-driven Midsummer Night’s Dream, noted
twat troll theater expert James Bovard decries the use of NEA grants to fund the “grunts, grimaces, and grins” produced by a pair of husband-and-wife nepotists—“raised in Soviet Georgia,” which should have given us a clue—who’ve made a career of wresting the spoken word from the cold dead hands of the Swan of Avon.
Rather than responding with a photo of Midsummer’s Bottom, post-transformation, the Synetic forces replied with a measured explanation of their approach. To them we say: Pfaugh! Art may truly be Art only when it is Pure, produced in strict accordance with the Wishes of its Originator. By Whom we mean God, because all True Art is the Product of Divine Inspiration, and should be produced in the original English.
Herewith, other egregious fakeries perpetrated upon the public in the name of creativity:
Roméo et Juliette, opera by Charles Gounod
This is not even good Italian, much less English. Shakespeare talks about a nightingale, dammit, not a rossignol; however will the audience get the symbolism? Also, Juliette, we have news for you: The composer may have given you an aria called “Je Veux Vivre (I Want to Live),” but you’re still going to die. Alone.
Any production featuring women
What is this, amateur hour? If you’re not dressing men up in atrocious makeup and grating falsettos to play the Bard’s ladies, you’re not really doing Shakespeare as the era intended. And don’t even think about giving his females sympathetic tweaks: Every true Elizabethan scholar knows that the Shrew, Lady Macbeth, and pretty much every queen in the canon are simply written as awful people, and should be portrayed as such. NEXT!
Slimmed-Down Treatments for the Magic Lantern
(That's the cinema, you dolt.) The Bard is not for the faint of heart nor the short of attention-span. Amendments and abbreviations are rightly consideredby all serious aficionados as anathema. Auteurs not prepared to follow the example of Kenneth Branagh and turn in a four-hour Hamlet using all the available words need not apply.
Read more A Response to the Wall Street Journal‘s Defense of Traditional Shakespeare