WHO CARES ABOUT SHAKESPEARE’S WORDS? I have posted a number of times, including here, in support of the linguist John McWhorter’s argument that productions of Shakespeare plays should be “translated” into modern English. I supported this on the theory people should have that choice available—the more the merrier. (This led to a comment I cherish by loki-69: “I think Shakespear needs to talk in modern English, innit, bruv?”)

Emma Rice’s productions go beyond translation of Shakespeare’s words into modern English by cutting a lot of the words entirely.

Michael Billington says: “The treatment of Malvolio reveals a lot about Rice’s priorities. She cuts large swaths of the letter-reading scene in the garden, including all the deliciously dirty jokes….[the] elevation of the visual over the verbal underscores the whole production.”

Stig Abell commented similarly on the Emma Rice production of Romeo and Juliet (directed by Daniel Kramer) that: “…this entire production values appearance over anything else—especially the words written by Shakespeare.”

Abell concludes: “It seems now to be a rare thing to see an entire performance of Shakespeare in which some one doesn’t thrust and gurn, or inexplicably remove their clothes, in sheer panic that otherwise they might need simply to stand and speak to us.”

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