Title

Shakespeare Adaptation in Film: Exploring Universality and Authorship

Submitter Information

Rachel OfferFollow

Type of Proposal

Oral Presentation

Start Date

23-3-2018 10:35 AM

End Date

23-3-2018 11:55 AM

Location

Alumni Auditorium B

Faculty

Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Faculty Sponsor

Dr. Michelle Macarthur

Abstract/Description of Original Work

Shakespeare adaptation into film is an area where many artists take liberties in order to mould the story to their vision and the point they are trying to make. Scholars are divided on the universality of Shakespeare's work:whether it can be taken out of context and still remain effective or if the conditions of racism, sexism and colonialism under which his plays were written undermine any attempt at modern day storytelling. In her short film Richard III: A Kingdom Unto Perpetual Night, Mona Zaidi uses text from Shakespeare's Richard III with her own images to make a statement about the current refugee crisis. Can Shakespeare's work only be truly effective within the context of its creation or is his work expansive enough that it can transcend borders of time and space? If an artist changes the original material to make it fit contemporary understandings of the world, can it even be considered Shakespeare's work anymore? Drawing on current critical theory on Shakespeare and adaptation and an interview I conducted with Zaidi, I analyze this film and its exploration of migration through Shakespearean text. In the eyes of Zaidi, Shakespeare's stories can be broken down to their core human values and can therefore transcend the context in which they were written. This means that regardless of the views of Shakespeare as a product of his time, his ability to capture truly human emotions and journeys makes his work accessible across countries and centuries. However, we need to be careful not to assume his work is ‘universally applicable’ simply because of his excellent writing abilities, and artists adapting his texts should be conscientious of the original context and the contemporary context in which they are performed. Within this, decisions made surrounding altering of the text may be made with all the information available. The resulting work might then be seen as a collaboration or conversation between the adapter and Shakespeare, not as Shakespeare's work alone.

Grand Challenges

Understanding Borders

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Mar 23rd, 10:35 AM Mar 23rd, 11:55 AM

Shakespeare Adaptation in Film: Exploring Universality and Authorship

Alumni Auditorium B

Shakespeare adaptation into film is an area where many artists take liberties in order to mould the story to their vision and the point they are trying to make. Scholars are divided on the universality of Shakespeare's work:whether it can be taken out of context and still remain effective or if the conditions of racism, sexism and colonialism under which his plays were written undermine any attempt at modern day storytelling. In her short film Richard III: A Kingdom Unto Perpetual Night, Mona Zaidi uses text from Shakespeare's Richard III with her own images to make a statement about the current refugee crisis. Can Shakespeare's work only be truly effective within the context of its creation or is his work expansive enough that it can transcend borders of time and space? If an artist changes the original material to make it fit contemporary understandings of the world, can it even be considered Shakespeare's work anymore? Drawing on current critical theory on Shakespeare and adaptation and an interview I conducted with Zaidi, I analyze this film and its exploration of migration through Shakespearean text. In the eyes of Zaidi, Shakespeare's stories can be broken down to their core human values and can therefore transcend the context in which they were written. This means that regardless of the views of Shakespeare as a product of his time, his ability to capture truly human emotions and journeys makes his work accessible across countries and centuries. However, we need to be careful not to assume his work is ‘universally applicable’ simply because of his excellent writing abilities, and artists adapting his texts should be conscientious of the original context and the contemporary context in which they are performed. Within this, decisions made surrounding altering of the text may be made with all the information available. The resulting work might then be seen as a collaboration or conversation between the adapter and Shakespeare, not as Shakespeare's work alone.