Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Shakespeare in The Flintstones

"Curtain Call at Bedrock." By George O'Hanlon. Perf. Alan Reed, Jean Vander Pyl, and Mel Blanc. Dir. Joseph Barbera and William Hanna. The Flintstones. Season 6, episode 20. ABC. 18 February 1966. DVD. WarnerBrothers, 2012.

In an episode of The Flintstones close to the end of its run, our Bedrock buddies put on their production of a Shakespeare play.

In its usual style, the name has been altered to fit the paleo setting. Thus, we have Romeorock and Juliettestone as the play.

The plot involves Fred Flintstone objecting to playing the lead role of Romeorock—even though he knows all the lines and is adequate in putting passion into them. At least, he's more adequate than Barney Rubble, who is tagged to play the role.

Barney keeps forgetting his lines. And when he does deliver them, he does so very monotonously. The controversial intervention of the Great Gazoo solves the former, but it can't do anything about the latter.

I've compiled some clips to give you a sense of the episode, which had a surprising number of lines from Shakespeare in it (and one reference to public speaking majors):

To avoid spoilers, I'm not showing you anything from the actual performance at the end of the episode—you'll have to seek that out for yourself (though the image that heads this post may give you a clue as to how it works out).

There's a Season five episode (episode 11, for those keeping score) titled "Dino and Juliet," but I suspect that its use of Shakespeare is much more generic.

Links: The Episode at IMDB.

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Monday, June 11, 2018

Book Note: Kino & Teresa

Lujan, James. Kino and Teresa: A Play in Two Acts set in New Mexico in the Years after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, after the Spanish Re-Conquest of 1692, Based on Shakespeare's The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. Lexington: Native Voices, 2005. Post-Production Draft.

At the 2018 Shakespeare Association of America convention, I learned about Kino and Teresa, a Native-American play that retells the story of Romeo and Juliet.

I don't know much about the period 1680 to 1692 in New Mexico. I know John Dryden's Absalom and Achitophel was published in 1681, but that's not exactly relevant here.

The play is set in a Spanish town with two groups of Pueblo peoples: those who are living peaceably in the town (though they are subject to racist attitudes) and those who are living outside the town and who are suspected of plotting against the Spaniards.

The play stays very close to Shakespeare's original—sometimes seeming to proceed almost speech-for-speech.

I'll give you two samples (click on the images to enlarge them). Here's one from early in the play. It's setting things up . . . and then working into the opening "Do you bite your thumb at us?" exchange:

And, since I know you're going to ask, here's how the balcony scene plays itself out:

Bypassing the "wherefore" conundrum, we get "O, Kino, Kino! Why have you come into my life, Kino?"

The play provides an intriguing setting for its retelling of Romeo and Juliet, but it may stay a bit too close to the original to provide a depth of commentary on the cultures involved in that setting. But I'd love to see it in production—that might bring the cultural elements to the foreground.

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Thursday, May 31, 2018

Book Note: As I Descended

Talley, Robin. As I Descended. New York: HarperTeen, 2016.

As I Descended is a young adult novel that is derivative of Macbeth. Its title comes from a question Macbeth asks not long after the murder of Duncan.

This version of the plot is set in an upper-crust boarding school with a history of ghosts and supernatural activity. Indeed, our Macbeth analogue is tempted into action when a Ouija board says "Usted conseguirá lo que más desea" (20)—you will have what you most desire.

The novel generally follows the plot of the play, but the characters have been changed along with the setting.  Our Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are Maria and Lily, a lesbian couple. Duncan is Delilah, the top student and soccer player. The Kingdom of Scotland is the college scholarship for which they're competing.

All in all, it's a compelling read, but it does take agency away from the characters and give it to a myriad of ghosts, figures from folklore, and other supernatural creepy things. Some sample pages follow.  Note: The extracts below are not appropriate for all readers.

The first encounter with the supernatural elements in the novel:

Maria starts to realize that the spirits are telling the truth:

Lily persuades Maria to put drugs in Delilah's glass so that she'll test positive on the upcoming drug test and lose her chance at playing on the soccer team or winning the scholarship:

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Book Note: Exit, Pursued by a Bear

Johnson. E. K. Exit, Pursued by a Bear. New York: Speak, 2017.

In Exit, Pursued by a Bear, we're off to cheerleading camp for a Winter's Tale retelling—for the first part of the book.

Hermione and Leo have been a couple, but he's starting to become jealous—and not just of her and other guys. He's also jealous of her ideas and her cheerleading performance.

But things suddenly change.

Then, during a fireside camp activity, Hermione is administered a "date rape" drug and is raped. She wakes up in the hospital, uncertain of what happened or who did it. The rest of the novel addresses the aftermath—including determining who was responsible and how he did it.

The novel deals with those deep issues in a sophisticated way, not pulling any punches with the serious nature of the crime and its consequences.

It's not exactly my cup of tea, and it does deviate from Shakespeare's plot after following it for a while, but it's an interesting novel that opens doors for conversation.

Here's an extract from relatively early in the novel so you can get a feel for it.

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Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Book Note: New Boy

Chevalier, Tracy. New Boy. London: Hogarth Shakespeare, 2017.

Hang on tight, everyone, this may take a while. This will be a roundabout way of talking about Tracy Chevalier's New Boy, but it's one way of getting my point across.

Have you heard the music of Alison Krauss? She's astonishing. She's won twenty-seven Grammy awards—twenty-seven!—and she's recorded tons of amazing music. She's even released an album with Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin fame.

I trust you're following me so far. We have an amazing performer who is known for an incredible singing voice.

Have you heard her sing "Ghost in this House"?

Let's all take a quick listen:

Listen to that astonishing voice. It has an unbelievable clarity to it. Listen to the "up" and the "down" in the lines "I don't keep this place up; / I just keep the lights down." You can slice that note anywhere you want and you'll get exactly the same segment—it's beyond comprehension. It's like a giant salami of sound, cured to perfection.

So . . . amazing performing . . . incredible voice.

But what she's singing is little more than drivel. The melody is great; the voice is superb. But the lyrics leave an enormous amount to be desired. I listen to the song entirely because of the voice.

Note: For a better marriage of voice, melody, and lyrics, listen to Alison Krauss sing the Beatles' "I will."  

Another Note: I have the same complaint—as seemingly-unthinkable as it might be—about Adele. She needs to cover more Dylan, sing more gospel numbers, or do the Cole Porter Songbook. Put that voice to better use, Adele, than singing codswallop like "Rumor Has It." 

I told you that to tell you this.

Tracy Chevalier's New Boy is very well-written, has an excellent concept involving race, and presents a number of intriguing voices.

But it just doesn't work.

The primary reason for that is its setting. The plot of Othello is played out in the grade-school classroom. That's a place for jealousies and rivalries, of course, but the idea of Dee "going with" Casper behind Osei's back lacks gravitas, to put it mildly. I suppose a handkerchief is a light enough object, so the idea of a strawberry pencil case replacing it isn't too far off. But the rest of the plot does not work in the setting, however well-written it might be.

Here are a few sample pages, starting with Dee's first lie to Osei.

Ian (our Iago analogue) tempts Osei in this section:

Finally, Osei lashes out at Dee:

Again, the book is well-written and interesting, but, all in all, it doesn't succeed.

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Bonus: Alison Krauss singing "I Will":

Bardfilm is normally written as one word, though it can also be found under a search for "Bard Film Blog." Bardfilm is a Shakespeare blog (admittedly, one of many Shakespeare blogs), and it is dedicated to commentary on films (Shakespeare movies, The Shakespeare Movie, Shakespeare on television, Shakespeare at the cinema), plays, and other matter related to Shakespeare (allusions to Shakespeare in pop culture, quotes from Shakespeare in popular culture, quotations that come from Shakespeare, et cetera).

Unless otherwise indicated, quotations from Shakespeare's works are from the following edition:
Shakespeare, William. The Riverside Shakespeare. 2nd ed. Gen. ed. G. Blakemore Evans. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997.
All material original to this blog is copyrighted: Copyright 2008-2020 (and into perpetuity thereafter) by Keith Jones.

The very instant that I saw you did / My heart fly to your service; there resides, / To make me slave to it; and, for your sake, / Am I this patient [b]log-man.

—The Tempest