“I hope Disney does more Shakespeare adaptations in the future. I can totally see plays like ‘The Tempest’ and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ being turned into family-friendly movies.“
Neither of those are particularly family-friendly, just because there’s magic and fairies doesn’t mean it’s automatically good for kids.
You could very easily make Tempest and Midsummer family-friendly. Honestly, apart from a few references to Miranda’s sexuality and calling Caliban & Ariel Prospero’s “slaves,” I’m not sure what makes that play unfriendly to a family atmosphere? I’ve worked summer Shakespeare shows for the past couple of years, and we always get kids and families for the comedies.
Yeah, I guess the references to sex could be taken out of both. Not sure the plotline about Hermia being executed if she doesn’t marry Demitrius (or the reference to Demitrius taking Helena’s virginity and then leaving her) would go over as well in Midsummer but I’m sure there’s ways to rewrite that, too.
I have to jump on you for this, because I saw you mention it in the tags. The Tempest is Not a play about colonialism. This is something that a bunch of modern and post-modern scholars have decided to play up, but the play loses it’s thematic relevance and punch if you try and make it about something it’s not.
Primarily its themes are forgiveness and family, the father figure Prospero’s great plan to place the needs of his children (Miranda, Ariel, Caliban) above his own passions and desires (his ‘art,’ love of learning, desire for isolation, control of the island, etc.) as well as forgiving those who have wronged him. It’s very powerful when the focus is put on love and sacrifice, and the natural comedy is allowed to work. This colonialism bullshit makes me roll my eyes, because it’s such a modern spin on the play that completely ignores the actual text.
I’m a devout arguer of not analysing things from something that didn’t exist at the time. Colonialism was barely beginning when Shakespeare wrote it. You could make a more modern adaption with colonialism being involved I suppose (heck, it was made into a sci-fi movie) but it’s not about colonialism. I don’t think having one interpretation, incorrect as it may be, would have to be mutually exclusive with the actual themes, unless it completely ignores them.
…why am I even talking about the Tempest I don’t even like it.
Call me a fence-sitter, but I think both analytical approaches are valid, important even. It’s important to understand the times from which the play originates, what Shakespeare’s influences and intentions likely were, etc. But a modern audience can’t ignore the resonances it has with our own times (or any other times between Shakespeare’s and now). Just because Shakespeare wasn’t consciously commenting on colonialism at the time, we can’t shut off the part of our brain that draws those parallels now.
You cannot recreate a Shakespeare performance exactly as it happened back then, largely because you can’t conjour up an Elizabethan / Jacobean audience to receive it. It makes more sense to me to perform these works with the knowledge and acceptance of what current audiences will take from them, not just what Shakespeare may have intended. The purpose of any given performance is to connect with the audience in front of you, not the imagined one Shakespeare wrote for.
And Shakespeare’s works are so frequently performed, it doesn’t really matter if any given performance is a definitive interpretation of the text or not – another one will be along soon enough.