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On A Hiding To Nothing

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On A Hiding To Nothing The perception of a director, producer, actor, theatre director or impresario pondering on a new adaptation of a Shakespeare play could be described as to being on a 'hiding to nothing'. This is so because no artist or playwright has ever had his or her work construed, conferred, evaluated and observed as frequently as 'The Bard of Avon': Shakespeare. Nevertheless, there is consistently one or more productions in varying situations, be it primitive conditions or modern taking place at any time. The effort put in must be worth it. To generate the perfect edition, to be the Hamlet, Lear, Lady Macbeth or Juliet, for their generation must be the ultimate aspiration of actors ubiquitously. Having recently watched several live and filmed versions of Shakespeare plays, I would like to explore the pleasures and pitfalls of producing the Bard's classic plays. The first film I would like to remark on is Kenneth Brannagh's version of the legendary play, Hamlet. Kenneth Brannagh, in a career high, had decided to take a huge risk, and put on this epic Shakespeare film. The risk of this show being that other directors had tried to film it before - and failed. Michael Almereyda tried to do what Baz Luhrmann did for Romeo and Juliet, updating it for a younger audience. Unfortunately, it was not well-received and got poor reviews from many magazines. ...read more.


These are the dwellings of the two most powerful families in Verona, the Capulets and Montagues. The movie kicks off in an epic gun frenzy between the two houses. It seems as if it is going to be a peaceful day at the garage for the Montagues but before long, some of the Capulet posse turn up. Cue trouble. This introduction is only a taster of what is to come. There are two main settings for Romeo and Juliet; Verona Beach and The Capulet Mansion. Verona Beach is host to many vital scenes, including the death of Mercutio (Romeo's best friend) courtesy of Tybalt (Juliet's cousin). This tragic loss impels Romeo to seek out Tybalt and take revenge, eventually resulting in Tybalt's death. The Capulet Mansion is where many of Juliet's soliloquies take place, and is, of course, the location where Romeo and his beloved Juliet meet for the first time. As this film has a budget in the tens of millions, it is a huge investment. Because of the vast amount of money Baz Luhrmann is able to persuade big Hollywood stars to be in his film. This means that because these big names are starring in the film, it is almost a guaranteed sell-through. These actors who may have multiple Oscars to their name, are bound to attract most people's attention. Included in this blockbuster are Leonardo DiCaprio (Romeo), Claire Danes (Juliet) ...read more.


Many limitations also come with being a small theatre company. Money is a big problem as many of the actors are making a living out of performing plays and it is their only source of income. As the majority of the money is going to pay for the actors' wages, there is little left to pay for props and other essential items. But this interpretation isn't about grandiose sets and illustrious casts, but about getting a message across to adolescents and to help them to experience the play directly, and not just through words on a page. On the other hand the Black Cat Theatre Company may be performing a perfect version for first time viewers, who find the blockbuster movies too complicated. As the actors can interact with the audience in their production, it can gain their attention with ease. Overall I think that these three versions are very different. The Black Cat Theatre Company aims at younger people, trying to get them into Shakespeare's works. Baz Luhrmann is still targeting a younger audience but uses modern iconography to get their attention. His intention is also the same; he is trying to get people to appreciate Shakespeare, but he is approaching it from a different angle. Kenneth Brannagh however is aiming at a much broader audience and is trying to accomplish a very difficult film. But in my opinion he is not doing it for Shakespeare but for his own career. Therefore I think that none of them are on 'a hiding to nothing'. ...read more.

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