Thursday, July 3, 2008

Shakespeare Two Ways

Stephen Greenblatt has a very interesting essay in the new New York Review of Books about the celebrated production of Shakespeare's Macbeth starring Patrick Stewart, and secondarily the Verdi opera based on Macbeth which was also produced recently in NYC.

What impresses me about this essay is that Greenblatt presents his reading of the play along with a description of the interpretation by director Rupert Goold in the production that began in England before moving to New York this spring. It's a twofer, basically. But it also represents two different philosophies in approaching Shakespeare: the more currently popular one, of making the plays more politically or culturally relevant, even if it means shaping the text to fit the concept, or of finding new ways to express what the director sees in the text that illuminates the play as Shakespeare wrote it. While Greenblatt is of the second school, he finds a lot to admire in the Goold production, which uses the Stalinist period to suggest current excesses.

Greenblatt's reading of Macbeth is pretty intriguing. Particularly with today's lighting capabilities, a production based on it could be fascinating.

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