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mice-eyed empower writers More than a few years ago when I was in my salad days and bent on ‘seeing the world’, a Czech friend took me to a dingy club in Prague where a mob of dirty young people had assembled to listen to a dirty young band who played a brand of music we remember as ‘garage rock’ or ‘garage punk’ but that sounded like anarchy with a

in Reading Shakespeare’s mind
The Merchant of Venice, Measure for Measure, Twelfth Night

of All’s Well . Indeed, it may be the very background of a thoroughly and incorrigibly rotten society – the domain of the hitherto irre press ible Lucio (‘Marrying a punk, my lord, is pressing to death, whipping, and hanging’ ( MM , V.i.522–3)) – that enables comedy and tragedy to stay in balance, not to say harmony, to the end (and, in the audience’s memory, beyond). All’s Well , by contrast, evokes an irresistibly entropic play-world, in which chronically tragic substance is painted over, before our eyes, with the thinnest of comic overlays. It is not common

in The Shakespearean comic and tragicomic
The 1988–89 NYSF Coriolanus

-hero. The audience giggle at Chris and like that Shakespeare should be grabbed by the scruff and dragged down Delancey Street [in Manhattan’s Lower East Side], the home of delis and street graft spawning the small-time punk who becomes a parody of himself singing his ultra-limited vocabulary and body language and thus lionized and exalted in a thousand movies

in Coriolanus

, with rough, leathery material, chains around their necks, dead animals hanging from their belts, and spiked or punk hairstyles. Eileen Atkins’s Tamora ‘looks like a punk queen in a shock of unruly red and orange hair with small ghouls braided into it’, along with ‘a gold ring through one side of her nostril’, overdone make-up, and ‘a gown cinched with a corselet made of what looks like fish scales – a creature who has no doubt oozed from the slime’. This ‘savage, animalistic effect’ (especially in the first two

in Titus Andronicus

another severely cut adaptation) was a waif, a little Orphan Annie Joan with punk hair, but wearing ‘grown-up’ clothes, a medieval-style tabard with a fleur de lys on the front, inscribing her with the official insignia of France. In 2000, Fiona Bell played a Joan in skirts: no child, but a formidable woman whose voice marked her as ‘other’, Bell’s muscular Scottish accent

in Shakespeare’s histories and counter-histories
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The minor films

offended the ‘widest possible audience’, but it must have failed to hit the mark with its true target demographic: students. It is hard to imagine the teenagers who were then cheering for iconic punk bands like The Ramones and the Sex Pistols finding much to excite them in such a production, even if they had found other approaches to ancient Rome (such as I, Claudius) compelling. Small wonder, then, that

in Julius Caesar
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‘Ariachne’s broken woof’

. Cymbeline’s subjects wore cross-gendered clothes recycled from blankets, army surplus and lace tutus in a style loosely evocative of ‘shabby chic’ punk that suggested an inventive potential for renewal through the integration of diverse source materials. The script reflected a layering of influences: Latin, Italian and French were spoken, with the English text projected upstage. Attention was drawn to

in Interweaving myths in Shakespeare and his contemporaries
Instead of a conclusion

Escalus’s interrogation of Elbow and Pompey may look like a distraction, but as Elbow’s comic accusations warn, Pompey’s prunes and promiscuity suggest that his punishment, and Lucio’s own, is coming. What no audience could have predicted is how it fits the crime: Lucio reveals the false friar as the real Duke, who readily condemns him to real marriage with his – also nameless – pregnant punk, one of

in Interweaving myths in Shakespeare and his contemporaries
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1994 and 1999

of Western culture from classical to punk’ (Blumenthal, 8). Scenic designer Derek McLane’s set consisted of ‘ancient Roman columns that were black-and-white xeroxed photo blow-ups on stretched translucent plastic that could track in and out of the space. The back wall was occupied by a plastic cyc[lorama] that was distressed and scarred with black ink.’ The stage also featured two versatile set pieces, ‘a Victorian, Roman-style bathtub that tripled as the public bath where the soldiers purified themselves, the pit in

in Titus Andronicus