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Lady Ice
09-20-2009, 03:25 PM
I want to do a radical overhaul of Romeo and Juliet. Same characters, roughly the same storyline- but with a twist.

What should I do about the language?

dpaterso
09-20-2009, 03:59 PM
Just asking -- any reason we can't move this question out into one of the discussion forums so more people will see it?

-Derek

Shakesbear
09-20-2009, 07:02 PM
Shouldn't the language be determined by the time and place you are setting the overhaul in?

Lady Ice
09-21-2009, 10:09 PM
Just asking -- any reason we can't move this question out into one of the discussion forums so more people will see it?

-Derek

I'd love that- but I don't know where to put it :(

katiemac
09-21-2009, 11:26 PM
Shouldn't the language be determined by the time and place you are setting the overhaul in?

This.

Shakesbear
09-22-2009, 12:11 AM
This.


Huh?

Toothpaste
09-22-2009, 12:38 AM
Huh?

She was agreeing with you.


Lady Ice - It really shouldn't be a big deal really if you are modernising the play. It's been done many times before, you may want to check it out to see how others have done it, West Side Story is a perfect example.

Shakesbear
09-22-2009, 05:18 AM
Thanks for trhe explanation Toothpaste, much appreciated. I was having a braindead moment!

Baz Luhrmans film is also a good take on the play - especially if compared to the Ziferelli one. The contrasts between the two films are, in some ways, quite remarkable. There have been various other re-writes, some with happy endings, but I am not sure if they are still in print.

If you are looking for a copy of the text that will give you explanations of the text I'd recommend the Cambridge University Press edition as they have lots of additional information that could be of use to you.

Toothpaste
09-22-2009, 07:00 AM
Except that Baz's version of the play was simply a restaging. It wasn't modernising the text, nor trying to create a story "based on Romeo and Juliet". It simply was Romeo and Juliet staged in a unique (and not altogether successful) way. Whenever anyone directs a version of the play they are restaging it in some fashion. I directed it last year and set it in an Edwardian music hall. West Side Story on the other hand takes elements from the play, but also adds its own vision, characters, ideas on top of that. Plus the actual writing is not the play.

Lady Ice - for further help here are some other reimaginings of Shakespeare plays that aren't actually restaging the plays themselves:

Ten Things I Hate About You - The Taming of the Shrew
O - Othello
West Side Story - Romeo and Juliet

BBC also did an entire series of such interpretations with versions of Much Ado and Macbeth and many more. None of which kept the original text, just the basic themes and plot outline. Macbeth was really interesting, set in a hotel kitchen.

You can't re-write Shakespeare literally otherwise you're just copying Shakespeare. And then that's just plagiarism.

Lady Ice
09-23-2009, 08:38 PM
I'm not sure whether to have some characters speaking in an archaic style and others in a modern (ish) style.

ChristineR
09-23-2009, 08:47 PM
Can you write in an archaic style without making mistakes? It's easier said than done; I know Shakespeare really well and have no trouble reading him or watching the plays without notes or glossary, but I couldn't copy his language without having modern usages creep in.

Kurtz
09-23-2009, 09:00 PM
BBC also did an entire series of such interpretations with versions of Much Ado and Macbeth and many more. None of which kept the original text, just the basic themes and plot outline. Macbeth was really interesting, set in a hotel kitchen.


I remember this one being an absolute hoot. Weren't the witches a trio of binmen?

Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLZ6HQ1P1Fw) is one of the best Shakespearean adaptations of all time. It doesn't use a single word of the original (it's in Japanese, you see), but remains remarkably true to the story (EVERYONE GOES CRAZY). It keeps all the main themes of the story, and puts them in a unique atmosphere and makes everything very, very Japanese. The finale is one of the most affecting in cinematic history.

Ran (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C58jxwu9vNQ) is also a brilliant adaptation of King Lear, but it alters Shakespeare's play very heavily. The daughters become sons for one.

Shakespeare wasn't really one for original stories. Most of his plays are reworkings of already existing myths and legends. There's no harm in reworking Shakespeare, but there is in copying him.

Toothpaste
09-24-2009, 07:33 AM
I'm not sure whether to have some characters speaking in an archaic style and others in a modern (ish) style.

What exactly is your vision? I can't quite understand why you would have some people speaking modern and some archaic unless it was a time travel kind of situation.

Toothpaste
09-24-2009, 07:34 AM
I remember this one being an absolute hoot. Weren't the witches a trio of binmen?

Akira Kurosawa's Throne of Blood (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DLZ6HQ1P1Fw) is one of the best Shakespearean adaptations of all time.

Ran (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C58jxwu9vNQ) is also a brilliant adaptation of King Lear, but it alters Shakespeare's play very heavily. The daughters become sons for one.
.

Yes they were, and James McAvoy was Macbeth. It was awesome!

Thanks for the recommendations, btw, will totally check them out.

Ms Hollands
09-24-2009, 11:00 PM
I did like the way Baz Luhrman used the existing language in creative ways, like: "send it post haste" - and then you see a Post Haste postal van and worker trying to deliver the message. Hehe.

Also, words aren't everything. Actions can be everything. For example, the film version Shakespeare's Henry V has been done more recently by Kenneth Branaugh (who also played the king from memory). Unlike Baz's Romeo and Juliet, Branaugh kept the play set the time Shakespeare had written it in. Yet if you watch the newer version and compare it with an older version, you'll see massive differences in representation that really give the later film a more modern feeling. The war scene is really different in that in the old version, everyone is parading around after, gloating in their victory and very happy. In the Branaugh version, the aftermath of the war scene is one of desolation, sorrow, death and futility.

Toothpaste
09-25-2009, 03:58 AM
Once more though, I will say, that a restaging is very different that trying to do a reimagining. Branagh's Henry V is an edited version of the play, much edited. But it's still the Shakespeare play. Luhrman's Romeo and Juliet is also much edited, but it is still the play. It is rare beyond rare to see a Shakespeare production at full length these days. Almost everyone edits it down for size. Rare too is seeing it staged in the original Elizabethan time period. Nonetheless, all such stagings are still stagings of the original play.

On the other hand, Ten Things I Hate About You is NOT The Taming of the Shrew, but merely BASED on it.

The biggest difference: one uses the original words, one does not. Next biggest: substantial changes to plot and characters to make a unique point within the context of the original story.

I would still love to hear Lady Ice's vision. I think it would make it the easiest for us to help her with her problem.

MsGneiss
09-25-2009, 04:23 AM
I think Romeo and Juliet has been beaten to death with adaptations. Some were good, others, not so much. Personally, I am a huge fan of modern adaptations of Shakespeare and the Greek plays. As with all things, if done right, it can be brilliant. My favorite modern retelling of Shakespeare is Jane Smiley's "A Thousand Acres."

Lady Ice
09-30-2009, 10:27 PM
A Thousand Acres was a very good book (not so great a film).

Lots of people have done Romeo and Juliet culture clash theme- the racial differences. I wanted to do something controversial to force people to re-read the play.

It's set in 1984, England. Capulet and Montague are fighting it out for town mayor. Unemployment is high and so is capitalism. The biggest change is that Romeo and Juliet are both male (Juliet's real name is Giles but he took up the 80's fashion of gender-bending). In my version I hope to show more of the characters' motivations for being attracted to each other.

I wanted to use archaic language for the parents and teens initially until R and J fall in love and use their own heightened modern language.

suki
09-30-2009, 11:03 PM
A Thousand Acres was a very good book (not so great a film).

Lots of people have done Romeo and Juliet culture clash theme- the racial differences. I wanted to do something controversial to force people to re-read the play.

It's set in 1984, England. Capulet and Montague are fighting it out for town mayor. Unemployment is high and so is capitalism. The biggest change is that Romeo and Juliet are both male (Juliet's real name is Giles but he took up the 80's fashion of gender-bending). In my version I hope to show more of the characters' motivations for being attracted to each other.

I wanted to use archaic language for the parents and teens initially until R and J fall in love and use their own heightened modern language.

A Male-Male retelling of Romeo and Juliet was posted as recently sold on Publisher's Marketplace last week, and there has already been loads of other retellings...I think to make your version standout it would need to be a really exceptional book - the retelling itself isn't going to cut it. It's just not that new a concept.

I'm not trying to discourage you, but to point out that the market already has a whole lot of retellings and reimaginings of R& J, including a Male-Male R&J, so the concept isn't going to get you anywhere - only the execution. And on that front, mixing the archaic with the modern only works IMO if one character is a time traveler or brought out of the book or something that explains why he or she is speaking in archaic form in a modern world.

~suki

Kurtz
09-30-2009, 11:04 PM
The first two acts of Mean Girls is a loose reworking of Juilius Caesar.

Toothpaste
10-01-2009, 06:34 PM
So when you say archaic, do you mean language like from the 50s/60s when the parents in your version would have grown up, or do you mean Elizabethan English? If you mean the latter, what is your intended goal with that? Considering you are setting your work in a "modern" time (at least relative to Shakespeare's), this would be highly unusual, and not naturalistic. Which is fine, so long as you have a point with it.

Lady Ice
10-02-2009, 10:21 PM
Oh, did I mention it was a play?

Yep, it's not realistic. It's more abstract and expressionist.

Medievalist
10-02-2009, 10:36 PM
Please god, no. It's been done, what, sixty times? Give the bard a rest.

Look at another playwright--Marlowe, or Webster, or hell, do a modern version of The Knight with the Burning Pestle.

If you must do the bard, avoid Mackers, Othello, R and J, Twelfth Night, Taming of the Shrew, Hamlet, Tempest, Midsummer, and Much Ado--they've been done, re-done, done-over and done again in just about every conceivable form.

Don't do non-twentieth/twenty-first century language unless you've genuine expertise.

Lady Ice
10-03-2009, 05:08 PM
I have been looking through Webster actually...

I love to do the bard :P

Julius Caesar- such a modern play :D