Shakespeare Sanitized for the Present: Political Myths in Recent Adaptations
This chapter analyzes recent Shakespeare film adaptations and stage performances from a presentist perspective, focusing on political myth production. It tackles the fruitful tensions that result from adapting the Shakespeare of the textual and theatrical past into contemporary films. It examines the politics of Michael Almereyda’s Hamlet (2000), Julie Taymor’s The Tempest (2010), and Michael Radford’s The Merchant of Venice (2004) as complicit in an effort to simplify and misrepresent a textual Shakespeare in favour of a depoliticized myth. In stark contrast, two chosen theatre productions, Alex Scherpf’s Hamlet (2003) and Jatinder Verma’s The Tempest (2008), support the thesis that the theatre re-fangs and re-complicates a Shakespeare who speaks meaningfully about current ideas concerning cultural conflicts and the nation-state.
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