22 January 2006

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet, prologue

Adaptation will be the topic handled today, children, specifically the adaptation of plays/stories. Well, as luck would have it, I'm sort of teaching drama to kids these days, and something got me thinking the other day as I was telling them the story of Romeo and Juliet: This story would work REALLY well in Jordan. no, think about it: Two warring factions (clans, tribes, families with grudges), a boy from a rival family sneaks into a wedding, meets the girl, falls in love with her, they get married in secret, their love can never be...the grudge (tha2r) gets worse as people keep getting killed...it works!

I'd like to say at this point that I'm not necessarily in favour of adapting/modernising plays in general. As I mentioned to Tololy on her Oresteia entry, one of the things that drives me insane is pretentious directors trying to put "current" elements into plays by hammering a square peg into a circular hole. Julius Caesar CANNOT be made into a commentary on the invasion of Iraq, neither can the RSC's version of Hecuba. Also, starting a play about the Baader-Meinhof Gang with a speech that seems taken from a reactionary reply to the so-called War on Terror is NOT clever. It's obvious and lacks imagination.

There's also the ethical question of whether or not someone SHOULD adapt a classic. of course, a lot of people think they can improve on the original...which in some cases, is not too difficult...a cut or two here and there in the text are almost expected. But where is the line crossed? When one updates the references? Is that even ethical? Can you do that outside of the context of a translated play?

Hmmmm.....I wonder. And ponder. Anyway, I'm supposed to do an Arabic version adaptation of King LEar in the summer. Guess that'll be an experience.


Tololy said...

Ethics have always been the question, haven't they? I say discard that glitch and move on, world.

Seriously now, this was an interesting read. I am definitely looking forward to that King Lear in Arabic episode, keep me posted.

Fedaykin said...

Indeed...not like ethics are anything we can define....hmm...thanks...you just gave me an idea for another post!
The King Lear thing's happening in the summer, I hope. Got a call from a great lady and a marvelous director called Majd Qasas on the second day of the new year, asking me if I'd like to be in the play...I accepted as soon as she'd finished the sentence. It's going to have physical theatre elements, so it should be fun to work on. The idea is to juxtapose materialism with spiritualism. I'm looking forward to it!