Me vs. The Bard - Can we take agency over great literary works?

When considering reimagining Shakespeare you may be inclined to ask: Why would you do such a thing? Why would you even attempt to take literary mastery and imprint your own ideas onto it? How dare you imply that these plays weren’t right the first time? Well, put simply, the answer to that is; because why not?

Macbeth is considered a timeless play, written in 1607, even using Greek tragic conventions that date back to 6th Century BC - and yet we are still making film and stage adaptations of it to this day. Has anyone ever considered that Macbeth’s story has been told?

Perhaps, lurking in the shadows of this story about regicide, Kings and Queens, power and status, insatiable greed and brassy ambition, there’s another story. A story about normal, everyday people; much like you and I (sincerest apologies to all the Kings and Queens reading this.)

The Porter always stood out to me as an outsider, someone commenting upon and being observant of the events that surrounded him, but not participating in them. But the Porter simply isn’t given the space to be more important in the narrative, we never see him grow or change, and as put by Bonnie Greer, “A character that never changes, no matter how powerful that character is, is not the main focus”.

So perhaps that’s why you should reimagine Shakespeare, not because he didn’t get it right the first time, but to give life to those characters who will be forever waiting in the wings.

My top three tips for taking on the Bard:

  1. Try imagining your character in a different setting, a school or a comedy club or a submarine, see where this new perspective takes you.
  2. Give your character a new motivation or status, if they’re a king or queen, imagine them as the Jester, if they’re good imagine they are evil.
  3. Don’t be afraid to make things your own, leave your mark unapologetically and proudly.

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