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A study in genre and influence

This entertaining and scholarly book takes as its theme the original argument that Shakespeare’s generic innovations in dramatizing love stories have found their way, through various cultural channels, into the films of Hollywood in the first half of the twentieth century and, more recently, Bollywood. It does not deal primarily with individual cinematic allusions to Shakespeare’s plays, nor ‘the Shakespeare film’ as a distinct, heritage genre, nor with ‘adaptation’ as a straightforward process, but rather the ways in which the film industry is implicitly indebted to the generic shapes of a number of Shakespearean forms based on comedy and romance dealing with love. Particular plays such as The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Twelfth Night, As You Like It, and Romeo and Juliet all powerfully entered the genres of mainstream movies through their compelling emotional structures and underlying conceptualisations of love. Drawing on dozens of examples from films, both mainstream and less familiar, the book opens up rich, new ways of understanding the pervasive influence of Shakespeare on modern media and culture, and more generally on our conventions of romantic love. It is such connections that make Shakespeare a potent ‘brand’ and international influence in 2016, even 400 years after his death.

Representing the supernatural in film adaptations of A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Gayle Allan

Film adaptation seems to offer something Morley could barely imagine – a means of representing ‘creatures of the poet's fancy’ with the requisite ‘grace and delicacy’. From the outset, cinema promised to be the perfect medium for this rendering of the supernatural. Murray Leeder argues that, in the late 1890s, ‘trick’ filmmakers, such as George Méliès and George Albert Smith were keen to ‘show off the capacity of the medium for wonderful appearances and disappearances, animations and transformations’. 12 As Peter

in Shakespeare and the supernatural
Steve Sohmer

societies accustomed to forthright, uncensored modes of expression. In today’s literature, cinema, and Internet entertainment, and in our print and electronic journalism, we expect bald, unmodulated frankness. Shakespeare’s contemporaries didn’t. Unlike our unbuttoned society, Elizabethans knew there were rules against the staging of the sacraments or treating with

in Reading Shakespeare’s mind
Glen Byam Shaw, Shakespeare Memorial Theatre, 1953
Carol Chillington Rutter

, she made a triumphant virtue of the too-wide, too-low proscenium-framed Stratford stage that others had complained of as modelled on art deco picture houses. Did the Memorial stage make spectators think of cinema screens? Harris used that screen to wide-angle effect to map the ‘wide arch / Of the ranged empire’ (1.1.34–35) between two elegant columns across empty spaces spectacularly backed by a cyclorama – Shaw's notional ‘Sky back-cloth’ – that changed colour with lighting – purple, orange, red – to merge sea and sky, air and water. She did away with the notion of

in Antony and Cleopatra
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The Citizens’ Theatre (Glasgow), 1972, and Northern Broadsides (Halifax), 1995
Carol Chillington Rutter

-style entablature. By the time the slum clearances of the 1950s had levelled Gorbals, the Royal Princess's had passed through conversion into a cinema while the Palace Theatre, next door, had become a bingo hall. They, along with the public swimming baths and a single tenement, were all that was left standing of the Victorian square, which today is still empty scrubland. In 1945 the Royal was taken over by James Bridie, whose vision of a ‘Citizens’ Theatre’ had been inspired by a 1909 manifesto along the lines of Yeats's and Lady Gregory's declaration for an Irish theatre. It

in Antony and Cleopatra
Foreign Antony and Cleopatra in Britain and abroad
Carol Chillington Rutter

, which depended on ‘scholarly interpretation and historical accuracy’. Zadek's object was ‘instead to popularize the plays through comedy, grotesquerie, eroticism, brutality, and highly visual imagery’ (Engle 1993 , 94). An iconoclast and provocateur who frequently staged productions in vacant cinemas or factories, Zadek considered the ‘element of provocation … essential’ to what he called Volkstheater , ‘people's theatre’, a theatre aimed at a new audience, at the ‘90 percent who do not attend theatre’ (Engle 1993 , 95). Like Komisarjevsky, Zadek scorned theatre as

in Antony and Cleopatra
Taking the measure of Antony and Cleopatra, Royal Shakespeare Company, 1972, 1978, 1982
Carol Chillington Rutter

that he gives you more from moment to moment than any other dramatist’, moments that tug insistently against, even pull the rug out from under, any ‘received idea’, he had ‘gone out of his way’ with Antony and Cleopatra ‘to point up all the things that do not conform to the myth of the world well lost’ (11 October 1978). There was no gold in this production; no scarabs or animal-headed priests; no cinema-inspired wigs (rather, a Cleopatra in a severe Eton crop); no togas; no gang of court hangers-on. Nothing exotic. Nor what historically had

in Antony and Cleopatra
Robert Ormsby

media ranging from advertising to popular music to fiction and comic books’ (Burt, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ 226). 1 But, despite the qualified prophecy that ‘it may soon be time to speak of the Shakespeare apocalypse’ (Burt, ‘Shakespeare in Love’ 227), the 2011 Coriolanus proves that the playwright’s name ‘is still one to conjure with’ in the cinema (Burnett and Wray

in Coriolanus
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Robert Shaughnessy

Heavily Rosalind The world première of Paul Czinner’s As You Like It at the Carlton cinema in London’s Haymarket on Thursday 3 September 1936 was, by the standards of the time, quite an occasion. Announced, a touch excessively, as ‘London’s greatest opening night’ ( The Times , 1 September), the film premièred before an

in As You Like It
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Why adapt The Spanish Tragedy today?
Tod Davies

’. 3 See her memoirs, Peace Mom: A Mother’s Journey through Heartache to Activism , published in 2006. 4 Several scenes from a 2003 script reading of Thomas Kyd’s The Spanish Tragedy I adapted for the cinema are available on alexcoxfilms’s channel, . They were impromptu

in Doing Kyd