Tuesday, January 13, 2009

When was this play set?

Why is it that when we choose to set a play out of the period it was written as, we always update the setting? We are fast to set Richard III in a foe-Nazi setting and Twelfth Night on the moon, but why do we never see "Caveman Hamlet" or "Toga Macbeth."

The first answer that comes to mind is the growth of culture. How do you justify advancements in technology, customs, and even thinking showing up in a time where there was nothing comparable? How do you have Ophelia denied burial in consecrated ground before Christianity has even been invented?

But we are able to accept it when Ian McKellan calls out "A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse" in his World War II era of Richard III or Baz Luhrman having Tybalt and Mercutio duel with pistols in Romeo + Juliet, why can we accept Willy Loman selling goods door to door in anchient Greese.

But wouldn't it be interesting to have the duality of hundreds if not thousands of years. To compare our "sophistication" to less advanced times to show how far we've come. Or perhaps it may highlight how barbaric we still are - a caveman Stanley enters dragging a piece of bloody meat and shouts "Stella." Who knows? It may not be the best device to make your point, but it is an interesting way to comment on shortcomings that your theatre piece is calling for change on.

Happy Birthday: Kaj Munk (1898-1944)

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