First Look at the New Mac… Scottish Play Adaptation

Mere hours ago the world got its first look at the latest feature film to be adapted from Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Macbeth. And oh what a first look it was…

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That’s right, peel your eyes away from that murderous gaze and you’ll find that it belongs to none other than the current Hollywood darling Michael Fassbender. Chills… I have chills! I know what you’re thinking: he seems to be saying,

I am in blood
Stepp’d in so far that, should I wade no more,
Returning were as tedious as go o’er

Right? (By the way, you can find the explanation for that quote here.)

And if Fassbender gives you goosebumps in this poster, just wait til you find out who’s playing Lady M…

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Double, Double, Toil and Trouble: Branagh’s Macbeth is a Wonderfully Tempestuous Production

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For a brief week, the Seattle International Film Festival was able to bring Manchester International Festival’s production of Macbeth to the Uptown Theater in Seattle. As a part of a series called National Theater Live (which includes Othello with Adrian Lester and Frankenstein with Benedict Cumberbatch and Jonny Lee Miller), this production stars the illustrious Kenneth Branagh as the titular Scottish King. I was lucky enough to get tickets to see this thunderous play.

Co-directed by Branagh and Rob Ashford, the production was spectral, but appropriately stark. A lot of the eerie desolation came from the fact that it takes place in a deconsecrated Manchester church. The floors of the church were ripped out, so the stage was a pit of austere earth across which the witches skulked and the Scottish thanes clashed bloodily. Rain was poured unsparingly onto the actors. The dim lighting was the perfect harshness for this sinister play.

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Rewriting Shakespeare

In yet more news of Shakespearean retellings, Random House is now set to publish a series of the Bard’s plays rewritten as prose. The RH imprint Hogarth has commissioned authors Anne Tyler and Jeanette Winterson as the first to release novels in the forthcoming “Hogarth Shakespeare Project.” The two will be rewriting The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale respectively. These are set for release in 2016 (alas, still far away), exactly 400 years after the Bard’s death.

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Hogarth explains that these new releases are intended to “be true to the spirit of the original dramas and their popular appeal, while giving authors an exciting opportunity to reinvent these seminal works of English literature.” And from the sounds of it, the writers can’t wait to get their hands on these texts…

Tyler, who has previously won the Pulitzer prize for her novel Breathing Lessons, says, “I don’t know which I’m looking forward to more: ‘Delving into the mysteries of shrewish Kate or finding out what all the other writers do with their Shakespeare characters.’”

Her counterpart, meanwhile, feels a special draw to The Winter’s Tale: “All of us have talismanic texts that we have carried around and that carry us around. I have worked with The Winter’s Tale in many disguises for many years. This is a brilliant opportunity to work with it in its own right.” Winterston has written both novels and BAFTA award winning scripts.

Excitement about a new imagining of Shakespeare’s works aside, what are your thoughts on how the new prose form will change the way we think of Shakespeare’s tales? Will the inevitable loss of his poetic language leave readers wanting? Or will we find a fresh new way to appreciate these stories?

If you were to rewrite one of Shakespeare’s works in this way, what would you choose and where would you take it? 


Problematic Peacocks and Other Elizabethan Era Warnings

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Perhaps the reason the Virgin Queen decided to remain so is to avoid the humiliation of having one of her upstart subjects oil paint a picture of her swaddling cat in her arms….

Maybe someday there will be superstitions that arise from the era when Queen Kate and King William reign, but it is unlikely that they will be as elaborate or as colorful as these.  The folks over at The Oddment Emporium recently posted this list from an elderly nobleman known here only as “Sir Cecil” who reflected on the superstitions that arose during the era of the Maiden Queen, Elizabeth the First.

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“During the era of my youth,” Sir Cecil recalled, “it was most important these be followed at all times.”

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Violent Delights: A New Romeo and Juliet Film Coming Soon

r&J

Me, an hour ago on Tumblr:  Scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll… Wait.  What’s this?

Yep.  It’s time for a new cinematic interpretation of the Ultimate Forbidden Love.  It’s been seventeen years, believe it or not, when the then 17-year-old Claire Danes starred as Juliet, opposite 22-year-old Leonardo di Caprio as Romeo.

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This time, the play is returned to Shakespeare’s  intended era and setting, the early 14th century in Verona (the Danes-di Caprio version was a “hip and modern” take, set in a “suburb of Verona”).

Visually, this new film looks lush and beautiful (at least from the trailer).  Its young stars, 17-year-old Hailee Steinfeld as Juliet and 21-year-old Douglas Booth could be described as lush and beautiful as well.

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