Julius Caesar is one of the most famous historical figures. I’ve known his name for as long as I could remember and more than that, I knew all the stories about him, his conquests and, of course, the Shakespeare play. Okay, maybe I only found about the play in high school but still I think that’s earlier than most people. Anyway, as I was on my way to school the other day I was listening to music when a line caught my ear. “Veni, Vidi, Vici. I came, I saw. I conquered…” This famous line, attributed to Caesar after one his many victories in battle, reminded me of another famous speech, but this one was not by Caesar.
“Friends, Romans, Countrymen, lend me your ears…” The beginning of Mark Anthony’s speech/soliloquy in Act 3, Scene 2 of Shakespeare’s tragedy, I believe, is one of the best “attention grabbers” or “audience catchers” ever written and why not? In the play, Mark Anthony spoke after Brutus and before Mark Anthony uttered those famous words, the people were still talking/raving over what Brutus said about honor and ambition and how he loved Caesar but loved Rome more. In short, the crowd was not focused on Mark Anthony, so I guess that first line was really to get their attention and shut up those Romans who kept talking. These kinds of lines are still often used today, especially by politicians. They are used to get the attention of big audiences and is perfect for setting a tone of persuading or motivating. In the case of Mark Anthony, he used it to persuade the crowd to turn on Brutus and the his accomplices.
In modern popular culture, this famous line is seen in many different mediums but the purpose stays the same. In the Beatles hit, “I Get By With a Little Help” we hear the line “… lend me your ears and I’ll sing you a song…” and from the context of the song, the line is being used by the persona as a way of asking his friends to listen to his “song” or story just like Mark Anthony pleaded with the Romans to hear him out. Another song I found, “Listen” by Talib Kweli, also incorporates the line in its lyrics. “Friends, Romans, Countrymen lend me your ears. Start repenting ’cause the ending is near, but don’t panic. You can’t function if you living in fear. Pay attention, you gotta listen to hear.” From the title of the song itself, you already know why the line was used. Again, the line is found at the start serving the same purpose of grabbing the listeners’ attention. Being followed up by the line “… you gotta listen to hear.” adds more impact.
For me, the use of the line in music is pretty one-dimensional. So I tried looking for other forms media that mentioned or used the line or even the whole speech in some way.
First thing I found was a clip from the show, “Phineas and Ferb” In this episode, Phineas addresses his friends using the line “Friends, Bullies, Irving…” I guess it pretty much was still used for the same purpose. It’s just interesting to me how one line can be used at so many different levels. From making a speech in front of a big audience to simply talking to one’s group of friends, this just shows how much today’s culture can easily incorporate Shakespeare. This can be seen in the next video, which features two teenagers trying to study Mark Anthony’s speech from the play. The clip shows exactly how today’s culture can easily incorporate Shakespeare and help make his works something everyone can enjoy.
The Past, the Present & the Not-so-post-colonial Shakespeare Online
The BBC has done it again.
Being the long-standing, leading provider of Great Britain and the rest of the world with what is generally agreed to be higher-than-usual quality public service broadcasting that aims to inform, educate and entertain, the BBC launched last May, a multimedia, multi-platform, cross-genre, global arts service that supports video, audio, articles, image galleries, games, interactive applications and live streams and is capable of being available on smartphones, tablets, computers, smart TVs, and Freeview HD.
This is known as ‘The Space’ whose site is thespace.org, where one can watch full performances, catch unmissable live events, delve into rare archives and explore interactive collections. The Space is also a place where everybody can experiment with ideas and play with images, text and sound. With all of the arts in one place – and with new material added daily – it allows one to feel free to discover, participate and enjoy art.
With regards to Shakespeare’s transmediality, the BBC of course is historically and popularly known to have more than one special place for the Bard’s works in its programs and projects; from Shakespeare-inspired/alluding television shows, camera-captured theatrical performances, to the Shakespeare Animated Tales, once can say that when “Shakespeare in Modern Media” is uttered, the BBC is a company that quickly comes to mind. It is no surprise then that this newer effort of The Space would contain more of the Bard’s things.
The Past: Silent Shakespeare
Containing parts of a collection of very early films of William Shakespeare’s works from the British Film Institutes archives, The Space features four cinematic love affairs with Shakespeare, dating from the earliest days of film. In its infancy film was regarded as a rather lowbrow medium, and the budding film industry attempted to elevate its cultural status by imitating the theatre. Adapting the works of Shakespeare was the film-makers’ greatest challenge, especially since films at that time – pre World War 1 – tended to be only one or two reels long.
The four films in this unique collection – from Britain, Italy and the USA – are created from the only known surviving materials, nitrate prints preserved by the BFI’s National Archive. They have survived for almost a century, and include beautiful examples of hand stencilling and tinted prints. There is a magical version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream containing some remarkable special effects, a wonderfully dark and moody early Italian adapation of King Lear, a charming five-minute film of The Tempest, and the very first Shakespeare film ever made, King John, in 1899. This unique and fascinating record shows us the exuberance, invention and conviction of these early film-makers and further demonstrates the possibility of the Shakespearean text.
The Present: World Shakespeare Festival
The World Shakespeare Festival is a celebration of Shakespeare as the world’s playwright, produced by the Royal Shakespeare Company, in an unprecedented collaboration with leading UK and international arts organisations, and with Globe to Globe (to be elaborated on later), a major international programme produced by Shakespeare’s Globe. It includes more than 70 productions, as well as events and exhibitions right across the UK.
The Royal Shakespeare Company is currently working with independent production company Rare Day to produce a series of films for The Space called World Shakespeare Festival Television. Documentary film-makers, video artists and animators will provide their own perspective on the Festival and Shakespeare. So far, The Space itself contains fourteen of these: An Introduction, Comedy of Errors, Romeo and Juliet in Baghdad, The Dark Side of Love, The Rest Is Silence, ‘I, Cinna’, ‘I, Cinna’ Backstage, Open Stages: Romeo and Juliet, Open Stages: Macbeth, Coriolan/us, Julius Caesar, Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare’s Confessions and Forests.
The Not-so-post-colonial: Globe to Globe
Also shown on The Space are some parts of an event of unprecedented ambition, when last April 21 to June 9, 2012, all 37 of Shakespeare’s plays were performed, each in a different language, each by a different international company. Every day for six weeks, national theatres, renowned artists and new young companies celebrated performing Shakespeare in their own language, all within the architecture Shakespeare wrote for. These artists played ‘the Globe way’ – telling stories through the word and the actor, complemented by costumes, music and dance – and attempted to complete each play within two-and-a-quarter hours. Ultimately, the Globe to Globe festival’s roster of participants proved to make for a carnival of stories; There were inspirational stories – companies who worked underground and in war zones; momentous stories – the first ever visit to these shores for some of the world’s most prestigious national theatres; and returning stories – groups which have already wowed audiences at the Globe, in the Barbican and in the West End, who have come back for more.
To augment this experience though, wherever one is in the world, he can take part in the Festival through a new digital platform, My Shakespeare, launched to mark the start of the Festival last April 23rd. This major new project aims to create a global digital conversation, creating a view of Shakespeare through a twenty-first century lens. The site will include guest bloggers, a unique online search of Shakespeare’s plays, a chance to create your own visualization and new artists’ commissions released onto the site.
Overall, the unprecedented artistic collaboration aimed to seed new international and national partnerships which could inspire new ways of working. It sought to bring Shakespeare to a wider audience through live performance, education, events, exhibitions and digital projects. Many of the new commissions created for the Festival were planned for having a future life and will be used to begin a global conversation about Shakespeare through My Shakespeare, creating an understanding of his place in the 21st Century.
From this, we can see that new technologies are enabling forms of borrowing, appropriation and “remixing” of media materials in exciting, provocative ways. Although many creators and observers of such work assume the practice is brand new, a unique feature of our digital culture, the truth is that the act of seizing upon and repurposing artistic materials belonging to others is as old as art itself. The history of the use and appropriation of Shakespeare is an especially instructive instance of this eternal (and necessary) cultural process.
In the beginning of this class, when we were asked to present how far Shakespeare reached in terms of media, I stumbled upon this video made by Nice Peter on YouTube:
It is a rap battle between Dr. Seuss and Shakespeare and the funny thing about it is, besides the great raps and visuals, they both had a point. Dr. Seuss said Shakespeare and his works were boring and that people needed a translation of his plays, unlike Dr. Seuss’, because they were just too hard to understand. I then recalled the first time I encountered Shakespeare, which was during my first year in high school, and reading the play, Merchant of Venice, overwhelmed me. It seemed like a totally different language and I could not understand a single line from the play. It took me a while before I started to understand the play without having to translate it first and to actually like Shakespeare’s plays and sonnets—I even had to get a tutor for my first few exams about Shakespeare. It wasn’t long till I didn’t mind watching and reading Shakespeare’s sonnets and plays for school and just for the heck of it. However, if it wasn’t for the amazing teachers I had and the great help of the Internet, I would not have even tried reading Shakespeare in the first place.
Now that we’re required to write a multimedia essay on Shakespeare, I thought of writing about how Shakespeare is introduced and taught by teachers, professors, etc. to the youth in the modern times of today. The generation of today has been sucked in to the virtual world and literally, for some, can’t get their hands and eyes away from their laptop, computer, iPad, iPhone and the like. Generations ago, when the Internet wasn’t close to being invented, reading was everyone’s favorite pastime. Nowadays, it’s not too often that you find a teenager or a young adult drowning himself or herself in reading a book—most especially Shakespeare’s plays and really taking interest in them. In order for people to find interest in the bards plays, teachers and other modern companies have come up with a way to interest the youth of today and show that Shakespeare’s plays are not just some boring books written in some foreign language by some dead man.
Here are some examples of modern ways of teaching Shakespeare to the kids these days:
This first video is an original rap by Katie Kovacs and Danny Wittels. Their rap is about the play Othello and if you actually listen to the entire rap, it isn’t at all bad! I’ve seen a few Shakespeare raps on YouTube and a lot are not that great, some not at all. This is one of the few that I really liked because it doesn’t stray from the story and the rappers have good rhyming skills and lyrics.
This second video is of Akala, the founder of The Hip-Hop Shakespeare Company who basically talks about the fusion of Shakespeare and hip-hop. Here’s a brief introduction to the video and a little background on Akala by TedxTalks:
Akala demonstrates and explores the connections between Shakespeare and Hip-Hop, and the wider cultural debate around language and it’s power.
MOBO award-winning hip hop artist ‘Akala’ is a label owner and social entrepreneur who fuses rap/rock/electro-punk with fierce lyrical storytelling (think Wu-Tang Clan and Aphex Twin meets Rage Against The Machine). With Akala’s latest record, convention-defying album DoubleThink, Akala has proven himself as one of the most dynamic and literate talents in the UK. Inspired by the likes of Saul Williams and Gil Scott Heron, Akala has also developed a reputation for stellar live performances with his drummer Cassell ‘TheBeatmaker’ headlining 5 UK tours and touring with everyone from Jay-Z, Nas & Damian Marley, M.I.A. and Christina Aguilera to Siouxsie Sue and Richard Ashcroft, appearing at numerous UK / European and US festivals (Glastonbury, Big Chill, Wireless, V, Hove and SXSW) also partnering with the British Council promoting British arts across Africa, Vietnam (the first rapper to perform a live concert in Vietnam), New Zealand and Australia. In 2009, Akala launched the ‘The Hip-hop Shakespeare Company’, a hotly-tipped music theatre production enterprise which has sparked worldwide media interest since its inception. Previous collaborators include: British actor; Sir Ian McKellen, actor/musician; Colin Salmon and Royal Shakespeare Company Voice Director; Cicely Berry. 2011 sees the launch Akala’s latest endeavour ‘Illa State Productions’ to garner his budding scriptwriting talent alongside TV presenting and as a music composer for various TV and Film projects.
These two online articles also talk about the evolution of Shakespeare’s interpretation nowadays—very insightful and good reads.
Having been taught to appreciate The Bard’s influence across many different forms of media, a semester’s class of Transmedial Shakespeare has also brought to my mind one of my favorite films – Shakespeare In Love.
Shakespeare In Love imagines the story of William Shakespeare (played by Joseph Fiennes) as he writes Romeo and Juliet, and casts an actor named Thomas Kent as Romeo. Thomas is in fact Viola de Lesseps (played by Gwyneth Paltrow) who is disguised as a man because women, at the time, were not allowed to perform plays. After finding out Viola’s true identity, they fall in love. Unfortunately, Shakespeare is married, and Viola is engaged to the Duke of Wessex. Will their love transcend the confines of reality, or will they end up like Romeo and Juliet?
The film is a minefield of references to Shakespeare’s plays. These are what I noticed:
- In the scene where Shakespeare has writer’s block while writing Romeo and Juliet, he throws balled-up pieces of paper to different corners of his room, which show props from other plays: the skull from Hamlet and the open chest from The Merchant of Venice.
- Shakespeare writes to Viola: “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?”, which is a line from Sonnet 18.
- Viola becomes Shakespeare’s inspiration for the character of Viola in Twelfth Night.
- The plot of the movie uses story elements from many of Shakespeare’s plays, including cross-dressing, adultery, star-crossed lovers, the “play within a play” concept, and the appearance of a “ghost”.
This film interests me so much because it portrays Shakespeare as the man behind the playwright. The plays featured are also given another (speculative) layer to them, suggesting a back story to their conception. Although it is purely fictional, we see The Bard shown as just another hopeless romantic in longing, loving, and losing.
Cristelle Elaine V. Collera
II AB Interdisciplinary Studies
Ateneo de Manila University
Thomas Armand C. Tang | IV AB PSY
The onset of massively multiplayer online role-playing games or more often called as MMORPG’s has captivated the time spent by adolescents or maybe even adults online. As like any other role-playing game (RPG), MMORPG’s function the same way the only difference is that it is massively multiplayer and is online. It follows the format of either creating your own character with a look, choosing a race (human, orc, elf, you name it), or you play a role of a specific character given to you by the game itself. RPG’s are single player; you play alone, while in MMORPG’s you play with people playing the same game across the world. MMORPG and RPG’s basically have two goals: you get stronger and/or you unravel the game’s story. Note that the “or” here bears meaning. Some people don’t pay attention to the game’s narrative and just want to bash some computer generated monsters or kill other players for the sake of fun or venting out the rage within. I am guilty of this but only for some games. Reason being is that the stories given by those games are run-off-the-mill. They are too predictable and so you try to squeeze out what you can from what you paid for by mindlessly killing anything you see till you are content. However for the most part of my gaming life I have played a lot of games that have unique stories that have depth in the them and makes you ask for more. A lot of my friends who play these RPGs play for the game’s story. The experience that you yourself take part in the story makes it a lot entertaining. Yes, it’s role playing after all. The main difference however between RPG’s and MMORPG’s stories is that in RPG’s the stories end while MMORPG’s in a sense don’t. Game developers of MMORPG’s make huge money by keeping their gamers online so what they do is they make a story but instead of thinking of an ending they continuously keep an opening. Along with these stories come features new to the game that entice gamers and make them want to wear their leashes forever. This scheme is devious but it works. The success of MMORPG’s lies in their addictiveness.
The addictiveness given by these games are deadly as they do waste a big chunk of time and money. Despite the capitalist nature of MMORPGs I believe there lies a saving grace in MMORPG’s story-telling nature. The class in transmedial Shakespeare has taught me that Shakespeare can exist outside of books. This knowledge of “transmediality” gave me this quirky idea of incorporating Shakespeare in games so people may encounter his works in their favorite games.
I came across this game called Mabinogi, a korean MMORPG, that incorporated some works of Shakespeare namely: Romeo and Juliet, Merchant of Venice, and Hamlet. Unlike World of Warcraft who referenced various snippets from Shakespeare’s plays Mabinogi a whole step forward and puts the plays themselves inside the game. This gave life to my idea of “transmediality” in games. The plays aren’t part of the games main story line but they are stories that one can take part in. The game features cut scenes that show famous parts of the plays an example of which is Hamlet:
The play is still divided into respective acts and is narrated in a way that you, or your created character, takes part in the development of the story. The plot changes quite a bit because of your presence but the whole story remains intact. The main task of the player is to let the story continue by accomplishing tasks given by Hamlet in proving that Cladius is the killer. The play ends with Hamlet dying but fortunately you are not part of the Shakespearean tragedy.
Given the addictiveness that MMORPG’s bring is it possible to give these games redemption by adding transmediality in it? The story-telling nature of MMORPG’s makes it an avenue of putting not just Shakespeare but possibly other literature in it. But then the question asked is does it dumb down literature? Will it be a substitute for the text itself or would gamers be curious and read for their selves the text version? Who knows. But what is good about is that people are given the chance to experience Shakespeare in another form of media and from what I see having read the play putting Shakespeare in games is alright it’s insightful but I wouldn’t say profound.
If you are a pretty active Twitter user, you would probably stumble upon @ShakespeareSong, an account dedicated to translating “modern songs and phrases in archaic language, and posting the latest music news,” according to the Twitter site’s description. So far, this Twitter account has garnered more than a hundred thousand followers (136, 047 as of last count), and true to its description, it is composed of tweets of modern song lyrics translated into archaic language, and music news. Anyway, here are sample tweets from @ShakespeareSong below. Can you guess the songs that these translated song lyrics belong to?
Based from this set of tweets, the translated song lyrics have become a source of humor and interest for a lot of Twitter users. Sometimes, these lyrics have also become a form of entertainment, by using these lyrics into questions for “Guess The Song” games everywhere. However, on the aspect of music news, the account just gets its source of music news from various Twitter accounts that provide actual music news through the process of retweeting, since delivering news in archaic language is not feasible. It is just a little jarring from the Twitter account’s theme of incorporating Shakespeare into song lyrics, since random pieces of music news just pop out of nowhere, which breaks up the Twitter account’s theme of Shakespeare and modern song lyrics.
In recent years, Twitter has become this huge social media platform,and Shakespeare has thrived in this field. With the incorporation of music and Shakespeare, this combination has generated humor and interest among Twitter and non-Twitter users alike, to the extent of using these translated lyrics into pieces of trivia. This Twitter account also shows the huge influence of Shakespeare, in a time where technology and social media have influenced a lot of people. It also helps that Twitter has combined Shakespeare and music together, and made it work for a lot of people. Who knows, maybe there’s a Twitter account out there that translates famous movies lines into something more appropriate for Shakespeare’s era. Who wants to see or hear “Four for you, Glen Coco!” (or any famous line in Mean Girls) in Shakespearean language? I do!
Follow Shakespeare Lyrics on Twitter at @shakespearesong!
William Shakespeare’s works have been around since the 16th century. It continues to flourish even up to now. Among other great writers, his works are most well-known and most adored by people. His works have never been forgotten and survived through the test of time. Different forms of media have already used and commercialized his works. For sure his works would continue to be remembered even in the future.
Star Trek writers have accomplished spreading Shakespeare to the world through the use of their works. They have incorporated Shakespeare’s works into their TV shows, movies and cartoons. The characters of Star Trek quoted Shakespeare’s works and even made their episode titles with references to Shakespeare. Patrick Stewart, who played as Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, was also a Shakespearean actor. In one example, Captain Kirk, Spock and Bones were met by three witches after they landed in the Planet of the Scary Things. The witches told them, “Winds shall rise, and fog descends. So leave here all or meet your end.” Spock then commented, “Very bad poetry.”
Spock’s comment refers to some parts of Macbeth, especially the lines of the witches as being badly written and not very Shakespearean. Another one is Hamlet’s soliloquy in the Klingon language. Klingon is an alien race in Star Trek. Note the following:
Khamlet (Hamlet) III.i.55ff. (“To be, or not to be….”)
Khamlet: taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
quv’a', yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
pagh, Seng bIQ’a'Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong — Qong neH —
‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.
Here are some Star Trek episodes that refer to Shakespeare’s works:
STAR TREK (The Original Series 1966-1969)
“Dagger of the Mind”
The title is a reference to Macbeth.
“The Conscience of the King”
The title is a reference to Hamlet. There is more in this episode as the main plot concerns a traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors.
“All Our Yesterdays”
The title refers to Macbeth.
“By Any Other Name”
The title is a loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. Kirk makes additional reference while talking with a woman as he holds out a rose-like flower and says, “As the Earth poet Shakespeare wrote, ‘That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet.’”
“Whom Gods Destroy”
The character of Marta quotes Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.
“Elaan of Troyius”
Here the plot is lifted straight from The Taming of the Shrew with Kirk playing the part of Petruchio.
The plot of this episode borrows parts of Macbeth.
STAR TREK: THE ANIMATED SERIES (1973-1975)
“How Shaper Than A Serpent’s Tooth”
The title is taken from a passage in King Lear.
STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION (1987-1994)
“Encounter at Farpoint”
Just a brief 2 Henry VI quotation by Captain Picard: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” (IV.ii.74).
“The Naked Now”
The Android Data recreates Shylock’s court monologue from Merchant of Venice, asking, “When you prick me do I not … leak?”
“Hide and Q”
Q mistakenly quotes As You Like It, saying “All the galaxy is a stage.” Picard calls him on it. Later Picard quotes Hamlet: “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!” (II.ii.304-308).
As the episode opens; Data and Picard are performing a scene from Henry V in the holodeck with Data as Henry and Picard playing Williams (a combination of the character of Williams and Court).
“Sins of the Father”
The title is taken from Merchant of Venice.
“Menage A Troi”
In this episode Picard frequently quotes Shakespeare’s Sonnets and a little Othello.
The title is taken from Hamlet (I.v.112).
“Time’s Arrow Part II”
Trapped in the past (San Francisco in the 1880s) Captain Picard explains their seemingly odd behavior by explaining that they are practicing a performance of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. They later rehearse Act II Scene i with Riker as Oberon, Data as Puck and Beverly Crusher as First Fairy.
“Thine Own Self”
The title is taken from Polonius’ advice in Hamlet.
The episode opens with Data performing the final scene in the The Tempest as Prospero. Also, much of the plot is taken from The Tempest as well as character names. (An interesting note is that this is one of the series’ final episodes and the use of the play is seen as homage, since it is widely believed that The Tempest is Shakespeare’s own farewell to the theater.)
STAR TREK: DEEP SPACE NINE (1993-1999)
The title is taken from The Tempest.
“Heart of Stone”
The title is taken from Twelfth Night.
“Once More Into the Breach”
The title is taken from Henry V.
“The Dogs of War”
Here the title is taken from Julius Caesar.
STAR TREK: VOYAGER (1995-2001)
The title is taken from Hamlet.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
The only Shakespeare reference here is Dr. McCoy, who again quotes Hamlet: “Angels and ministers of grace defend us!” (I.iv.3).
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.
First, the title is from Hamlet (III.i.80), but not only that — one character, General Chang (Christopher Plummer) constantly quotes Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (II.ii.184), 2 Henry IV (III.ii.212),Richard II (III.ii.155-56), Henry V (III.i..1; III.i.32), Julius Caesar (III.ii.168; III.i.60; III.i.274), The Tempest (III.i..148), Merchant of Venice (III.i.56-63), and Hamlet (V.ii.10-11; I.iii.78; V.i..163; III.i.58-60; III.i.57). The character of Martia (Iman), a shapeshifter, quotes from Hamlet when she says, “I thought I would assume a pleasing shape” (II.ii.612).
Shakespeare has been immortalized through a Sci-Fi themed TV series, movie and cartoon. Not only is Shakespeare known by his literary works but also through very famous TV show, movie and cartoon. Maybe even alien races would know Shakespeare in the future just like the made up alien race, the Klingons. Shakespeare has become a cultural icon an important piece of human history and he will always be remembered.
The materials gathered are from:
At beginning of my Transmedial Shakespeare class, one of the first questions that we were asked was… “How is Shakespeare important?” And that simple question, boggled everyone’s minds to the point that it made us think really hard about how we can prove his importance. Obviously we know he is important based on the simple fact that he’s being taken as a subject in many different schools, but that doesn’t seem to suffice. I realized that moment how relevant and encompassing that man is despite how long ago he lived, and how long ago his plays were made. Shakespeare truly is something important because we all know about him no matter how minimal our knowledge about him and his works may be. That simple question led us to the task of getting anything interesting we can on him in through any means, and present it to the class in the next meeting. While my classmates, already knew that they wanted to do (some even had a theme all planned out just for their presentations) , I just simply typed the word “Shakespeare” on my Google browser, and viola! The World Wide Web provided me with all things Shakespeare related. I opened every link that caught my eye, and every photo on Google images that seemed to be out of the ordinary. I gathered them all and presented it to class the next meeting. Basically, these are the things that I showed them:
These photos immediately opened my eyes and gave me more or less the answers to the prevailing question that was asked during the first day of class. The simplicity, is the answer.
It’s very often that we hear about Shakespeare in literature and because of this and that is how we see his importance. We take him up in class, we can barely understand the English that he uses in his plays. These things eventually led us to the conclusion that he is the highest form, basically the basis of the literature that we know today. And the fact that people bow down to us when they hear that we’re taking Shakespeare up just shows how high they think of him. But that is not what makes Shakespeare important. Really, it’s in the simpler thing like neckties, the mint, the tissue holder that we see exactly how encompassing and necessary he is to us. I mean, why would he placed on these things that people use everyday if he wasn’t important? If he wasn’t know to everyone?
Iphone cases, tissue boxes, neckties and mint. Seeing these things eventually, shows us now just how he stops just being being just valuable and how he turns into a necessity. If you think about it, valuable things get displayed in showrooms or they get viewed by the elites, and studied by those who are deemed “capable.” But necessary things are those that we get to see and use everyday. Such as the words Shakespeare has invented which are being used literally everyday by all English speaking people (whether they know it or not), his works, his themes and plays, we often hear the term “Shakespearean” because of how the theme of a movie, song or show emulates any one of Shakespeare’s plays. And now we see tissued holders, mints, neckties and iPhone Cases.
Shakespeare truly is encompassing, standing the test of time through all forms and mediums and in the simplicity of these mediums, we see how necessary Shakespeare truly is to our lives.
Throughout the entire semester of Transmedial Shakespeare, we looked across the many different ways that Shakespeare managed to make himself and his works an integral part of human culture. We learned the history of Shakespeare, and how back then he was quite different from the cultural icon that he is today. We attempted to trace the progress of when and how Shakespeare came to be recognized in the modern times, going back and forth across various readings, trying to find the story behind Shakespeare’s rise to prominence in society. We saw the prominent influence Shakespeare’s many works had on the artists that followed in the centuries after him. We saw him subjected to commercialism, philosophy, parodies, and radical re-interpretations, each one a distinctly different form but always managing to keep in line with the Shakespearian idea.
Perhaps the most interesting part of the course for me, however, was when we got nearer the end of the semester, and began looking at the interpretations and re-interpretations of Shakespearian works. This is when we touched on the topic of the differences between stage-Shakespeare movies and movie-Shakespeare movies. Stage-Shakespeare movies often stayed as true to the original text as possible, with actors speaking the lines word for word. In effect, they simply recorded what you would find in a theatre, except with a bit more fanciful set design and costumes. Movie-Shakespeare movies, however, changed the way we saw Shakespeare’s works. While they would still follow the storylines, movie adaptations would (usually) forego the classic dialogue of Shakespeare, and instead make use of languages more in the keeping of the times. What I noticed, though, was that everything we watched only concerned how Shakespearean plays were being “modernized”, in a way. So one day, as I was browsing through the internet, I stumbled upon these.
These videos show a modern movie turned into a stage play. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, Pulp Fiction was directed by Quentin Tarantino, and starred John Travolta, Samuel Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, and those are just the more famous names. It is often hailed as one of the most iconic and influential of Tarantino’s films, with many “quote-able” scenes from the movie finding their way into popular culture. Oh, here are the originals, by the way: you may need them for reference.
What I find more intriguing, about this video is the label on it that says it is “Pulp Fiction Shakespeare”, implying that the stage play in Shakespearian style. This label interests me the most about this video recording, reminiscent of the earlier attempts to bring stage-Shakespeare into the film industry, because it begs the question: how is it in the Shakespearian style? What is it that makes this thing “Shakespeare”? From what we’ve seen and learned throughout the course, Shakespeare is much more than actually just speaking in old English. As the oft-misquoted phrase from Hamlet goes, “… (though) this be madness, yet there is method in’t”. Shakespeare’s works range from tragedies to comedies and everything between, exploring love and life through dialogue and soliloquy alike.
Yet at the same time, there is something unique about Shakespearian works, enough so that the name “Shakespeare” alone becomes recognized as a symbol, representative of an idea. How did this recognition come about, though, when Shakespeare never originally intended his plays to be nothing more than entertainment? There are multiple theories on this, of course, some of the more prominent ones pointing at the resurgence of interest in the arts during the Romantic periods. But what is undeniable is the fact that whoever “resurrected” Shakespeare after he died did a really good job, turning him into much more than what the man himself could have hoped to achieve from entertaining nobles and groundlings alike at an open theatre.
Arguably, this is one of the points that the class of Transmedial Shakespeare would like to ask people who have experienced Shakespeare to think about. Lots of people know who Shakespeare is, practically everyone has an idea of what he’s done. But when you apply the label of Shakespeare to anything, you should try to understand what’s the real idea behind the Shakespeare. Because from what I can hear, and what I’ve seen from the videos, that’s not Pulp Fiction a la Shakespeare. That’s Pulp Fiction in Old English.
Don’t get me wrong, though: I still love the idea, and I would probably die of joy if I ever got to see it live onstage.
(Before starting with this article, I strongly suggest you check this out first:)
So aside from attesting to Shakespeare’s universal, all-encompassing influence on every medium of human creativity, what else can we get from looking at Shakespearean pornography? (Marry, by “look” I mean to study, not necessarily to “view” them, ‘slid!)
“Ebony and ivory, live together in perfect harmony…”
Let us momentarily set aside our strict sense of propriety (and I’m sure this wouldn’t be the first time for all of us) to once again remind ourselves of the elements in Shakespeare’s plays that could have made Shakespearean porn possible.
For starters, one cannot deny Shakespeare’s uncanny ability to make his characters sexually appealing, that is after we’ve learned how to tame the wildness of his early modern English. Personally, I’ve always had a strange crush on Desdemona. The whitest, snow-whitest girl you can think of, falling in love with a Moor? Many scholars have suggested that “size” could have contributed to this attraction — apart, of course, from Othello’s natural charm, and his fantastic adventure stories. Every girl likes a good bed-time story now and then.
There’s also Juliet, and Romeo, arguably the spunkiest teenagers in the whole Western Canon. Can we still ever enjoy a Romeo and Juliet production that winces to admit that the lovers DID “do” it in Act 3, Scene 5? And Antony and Cleopatra must have tired themselves to their respective deaths enjoying each other’s company. The Two Gentlemen of Verona, scholars say, can’t fall in love with their chicks only because they can’t help falling in love with each other. Bromance is brought to a whole Shakespearean level.
The Vienna of “Measure for Measure” may very well be one big Red Light District. Titania of “Midsummer Night’s Dream” keels over for a donkey-headed fool. The gang of Olivia, Viola, Orsino, and Sebastian is a foursome too homoerotically confused for comfort. The Troy of “Troilus and Cressida” is a cesspool of syphilitic bawds and prostitutes. “Titus Andronicus’” Chiron and Demetrius learned the not-so-subtle art of rape and mutilation through the instruction of their very own mother dear. On the other hand, Hamlet found his mother all too “game” for her age, and if Freud should be believed, has the whole Oedipus thing going. And Shakespeare’s sonnets, which we now celebrate as the quintessence of romantic love, in actuality’s all about the persona’s adulterous, unquenchable lust for a young man and a dark lady. (Believe you me; these are just a few of the “green” things in Shakespeare’s works.)
This Hamlet’s really got “sullied flesh”
All in all, it’d be foolish to NOT see how natural it is for pornography to be one of the many media Shakespeare’s genius will end up influencing. These porno flicks may have oversimplified Shakespeare’s plot for their audience’s immediate satisfaction, but one must admit that turning Shakespeare plays into an excuse for Rated X content still requires a certain amount of imagination and creativity. In fact, I daresay, kudos to these producers who wish to not only entertain, but educate in their craft! Sophisticated and sexy, indeed!