Reinventing Shakespeare

By Ben Wolfson12th Grade, Hunter College High School Cabaret, Chicago, and Rent are among the many flashing headlines you are apt to see when strolling down Broadway. Revivals of older musicals, these glitzy and glamorous shows tend to catch your eye and entice you to buy tickets. Clearly bringing back dated plays seems to be in vogue, yet people often sneer when I tell them about watching new productions of King Lear or Hamlet. “Why would you watch Shakespeare?” they ask. “Victorian English is too archaic,” and, “Shakespeare’s plots are overly dramatic,” they add. Such dismissals are not only unsubstantiated, but blatantly untrue. There are currently three of Shakespeare’s plays running, and although I’ve only seen Cymbeline, it was neither unintelligible nor over the top. What the cast lacked in terms of fancy posters, they more than made up with incredibly clear acting and original interpretations of Shakespeare’s plays. There is some merit to the critique of Shakespeare revivals, however, that they just don’t jive with the audience. Perhaps some people cannot connect with Shakespeare, but it is only due to their preconceived notions of his plays. Shakespeare’s messages are universal. He speaks of love, tragedy, deception and betrayal, but not without adding his caveats. There is a rich subtext to his plays and word choices, some of which can only be seen on stage. His humor is still tasteful, without the modern day sting. Furthermore, unlike many modern playwrights, whose debuts can be questionable at best, Shakespeare is a time tested option.