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Modern Adaptations Of Shakespeare


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#1 Cyfer

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Posted 21 January 2012 - 12:54 AM

Hello, I was wondering if anyone would be able to help me (I know some teachers here also teach/taught English) in ideas for an English task to create a short story of a modern adaptation of a Shakespearean play.

Currently I have only read Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet so all my information/ideas are based on plot summaries from Sparknotes so please correct me if I am incorrect.

I have to write a short story ~2000-3000 words, creative writing that is, as a modern adaptation of a Shakespearean plays. I've looked through the tragedies that Shakespeare has written and I think I can create reasonable adaptations out of Coriolanus, Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. Please advise me which adaptations are the most viable and offer the most chance for me to show off my skill in creative writing. I have ignored plays such as Julius Caesar and King Lear because they are far too long, have too many different perspectives or as in King Lear's case, the plot is stretched and seems to have no focal point to it.

Ideas:
Coriolanus
  • Board of Directors changes a company from private to public, angering Coriolanus and causing him to seek revenge, perhaps two rival pharmaceutical companies? (Competition is fierce, companies will be fictional)
  • Change of friendships as a person gains popularity within a school, causing them to talk in different circles, ultimately being backstabbed by a person which helped them into the 'cool group' because they are jealous of the person's rise

Macbeth
  • The wife is portrayed as a dictator, for example perhaps in the Middle East, similar to Gaddafi and his insanity? (Please note the problems associated with this for example my creative writing may be restricted by the need to stick to facts)
  • Running for the leadership of a party and slandering/destroying the leader, similar to what is happening to Gingrich currently, although he isn't the forerunner

As a last resort, my backup is what the teacher suggested which is the parental/child conflicts in Romeo and Juliet between Juliet and her father, (something) Capulet.

Any help would be greatly appreciated, thank you.

#2 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 01:31 AM

Romeo and Juliet has been done by Baz Luhrman!

The first thing you need to decide is whether you are going to 'adapt' your Shakespeare play simply by placing the exiting story in a modern setting, or whether you are going to create a new story based on a Shakespeare narrative.
the next thing to decide, if you go for option two, is, of course, HOW loosely?

After that, I would always go for a famous, simple story that will have immediate resonance.

#3 Cyfer

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 11:01 AM

Romeo and Juliet has been done by Baz Luhrman!

The first thing you need to decide is whether you are going to 'adapt' your Shakespeare play simply by placing the exiting story in a modern setting, or whether you are going to create a new story based on a Shakespeare narrative.
the next thing to decide, if you go for option two, is, of course, HOW loosely?

After that, I would always go for a famous, simple story that will have immediate resonance.


Since I posted it I think I've narrowed it down to Coriolanus because I think the themes of Macbeth are too extreme for me to correlate to modern society and everyday situations. I think it would also be interesting to write about the situation of Coriolanus meeting Aufidius as it could create interesting subtext.
I'm only worried that a modern adaptation of Coriolanus by Ralph Fiennes has just come out so that may ruin the effect of mine if a person compares them.

I've thought of using the themes in Coriolanus simply as base inspiration however I keep coming back to the problem that this would cause me to have to explain the basic elements of the story which, in a 2000 word essay would restrict my writing incredibly to less creative and more of a plot summary. On the other hand, writing such a story gives me more freedom in the writing.
I think that the freedom giving in writing wouldn't really be that effective anyway in such a small piece, (then again I'm not an English teacher) what do you think?

I really enjoyed Baz Luhrmann's adaptation :)

#4 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 10:15 PM

I still think you need to be clear about what you are doing.

Is this simply telling the story of Coriolianus in a modern setting (in which case,for example, you keep the story-line and merely transpose the action to, say, a Wall Street investment bank. In that case, you would not need to rehearse the story, and would just call your characters Mr Aufidius etc.

Or are you modernising the whole story - creating a parallel story based upon Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which draws upon the themes and issues in the play?

The degree of adaptation will affect the degree of pre-explanation.

#5 Cyfer

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Posted 22 January 2012 - 11:57 PM

I still think you need to be clear about what you are doing.

Is this simply telling the story of Coriolianus in a modern setting (in which case,for example, you keep the story-line and merely transpose the action to, say, a Wall Street investment bank. In that case, you would not need to rehearse the story, and would just call your characters Mr Aufidius etc.

Or are you modernising the whole story - creating a parallel story based upon Shakespeare's Coriolanus, which draws upon the themes and issues in the play?

The degree of adaptation will affect the degree of pre-explanation.


I believe it is the latter. I've written an 1000 word draft but I think it is terrible. The task states a need of mix of dialogue and narrative yet if I try to use narrative, the dialogue slows down inexorably whilst if I focus on dialogue, the whole story isn't being told and the scope is severely restricted.

I don't know what I'm going to do. I'll have to think about it a lot more.

#6 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 08:55 AM

From what you are saying, all they are wanting is for you to write a modern short story based around a Shakespeare 'plot'.
If this is so, then you are right in thinking that you need to concentrate on the actual mechanics of the story-telling.
i.e. they are saying: here is the plot, write it up a a story.

btw Coriolanus was reviewed in Film 2012 this week; they gave it a 'best film of 2012' review.

#7 Cyfer

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 09:49 PM

From what you are saying, all they are wanting is for you to write a modern short story based around a Shakespeare 'plot'.
If this is so, then you are right in thinking that you need to concentrate on the actual mechanics of the story-telling.
i.e. they are saying: here is the plot, write it up a a story.

btw Coriolanus was reviewed in Film 2012 this week; they gave it a 'best film of 2012' review.


Don't you think it's a bit arrogant to name a film the best of 2012 when we are still within the first month? :D

#8 Cyfer

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 11:17 PM

Sorry for the late update and thank you for your help Mr Clare.

I looked over the Coriolanus thing and I realised it was rubbish so since then I have written a new one.

It is about a man hired to take part in a genocide in Africa, yet he doesn't comprehend the situation or its depth. The scene is set with him riding in a truck naively and it ends when the truck stops, he gets off and realises the extent of what he has done.

In terms of relation to a Shakespearen play, please tell me what you think it is. Themes are tragedy, and the realisation of what you have done, along with dramatic character change.

I'm thinking Julius Caeser, does that relate close enough?

Thanks for the help and sorry for the huge delay!

#9 MrJohnDClare

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Posted 20 February 2012 - 11:33 PM

Sorry for the late update and thank you for your help Mr Clare.

I looked over the Coriolanus thing and I realised it was rubbish so since then I have written a new one.

It is about a man hired to take part in a genocide in Africa, yet he doesn't comprehend the situation or its depth. The scene is set with him riding in a truck naively and it ends when the truck stops, he gets off and realises the extent of what he has done.

In terms of relation to a Shakespearen play, please tell me what you think it is. Themes are tragedy, and the realisation of what you have done, along with dramatic character change.

I'm thinking Julius Caeser, does that relate close enough?

Thanks for the help and sorry for the huge delay!

I'm not familiar with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - but surely it should end with a murder?

#10 Cyfer

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 04:20 PM


Sorry for the late update and thank you for your help Mr Clare.

I looked over the Coriolanus thing and I realised it was rubbish so since then I have written a new one.

It is about a man hired to take part in a genocide in Africa, yet he doesn't comprehend the situation or its depth. The scene is set with him riding in a truck naively and it ends when the truck stops, he gets off and realises the extent of what he has done.

In terms of relation to a Shakespearen play, please tell me what you think it is. Themes are tragedy, and the realisation of what you have done, along with dramatic character change.

I'm thinking Julius Caeser, does that relate close enough?

Thanks for the help and sorry for the huge delay!

I'm not familiar with Shakespeare's Julius Caesar - but surely it should end with a murder?


I managed to discuss this at length with my teacher and head of department and it has to be based on a theme, not specific events within the play.

Isn't Julius Caesar based on realisation/killing? I haven't actually read the play myself, I just told my teacher my plot and he thought that Julius Caesar would suit it, however I did this at the end of the lesson and it was a bit rushed so I was looking for a second opinion.

Would you like me to attach what I have written so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about? If I do, is there anyway I can attach it so that only moderators can view it? I'm a bit cautious with the whole plagiarism thing.

#11 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 21 February 2012 - 05:59 PM

[I managed to discuss this at length with my teacher and head of department and it has to be based on a theme, not specific events within the play.

Isn't Julius Caesar based on realisation/killing? I haven't actually read the play myself, I just told my teacher my plot and he thought that Julius Caesar would suit it, however I did this at the end of the lesson and it was a bit rushed so I was looking for a second opinion.

Would you like me to attach what I have written so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about? If I do, is there anyway I can attach it so that only moderators can view it? I'm a bit cautious with the whole plagiarism thing.

To deal with your points in order;

As neither Mr. Clare nor, sadly, myself, are that familiar with 'Julius Caesar', but your teacher thought it would serve, I would go with their recommendation.

We don't really mark or review students' work as this would cause all sorts of problems, as I'm sure you can imagine.

If you want to send us anything, without making it public, then remember that it does not show up until it has been reviewed. If you specify that you don't want it 'made public' then we won't (if that makes sense).

#12 Cyfer

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Posted 22 February 2012 - 01:50 AM

To deal with your points in order;

As neither Mr. Clare nor, sadly, myself, are that familiar with 'Julius Caesar', but your teacher thought it would serve, I would go with their recommendation.

We don't really mark or review students' work as this would cause all sorts of problems, as I'm sure you can imagine.

If you want to send us anything, without making it public, then remember that it does not show up until it has been reviewed. If you specify that you don't want it 'made public' then we won't (if that makes sense).


Thanks for the advice. I wasn't suggesting you mark it, my classics teacher has thoroughly drilled my class in how unpleasant it is to mark as many essays as teachers do when preparing us for our GCSE exams :)

From your own knowledge of Shakespearean. plays what do you think my summary of the plot/situation pairs with, in terms of Shakespearean plays. I only know two in depth and another 2 vaguely and the themes don't seem to match any of them, although perhaps Macbeth's naivety at the crime he is committing and later his sorrow for doing it clings very loosely.

#13 Cyfer

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:39 PM

As an update I have been recommended Othello by a friend, and after reading through its plot on sparknotes I have to say that last bit where Othello's naivety is abused by Iago and he kills his wife, is absolutely perfect.

Thank you though for still spending time in helping me, it is greatly appreciated.

#14 Mr. D. Bryant

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Posted 23 February 2012 - 11:51 PM

As an update I have been recommended Othello by a friend, and after reading through its plot on sparknotes I have to say that last bit where Othello's naivety is abused by Iago and he kills his wife, is absolutely perfect.

Thank you though for still spending time in helping me, it is greatly appreciated.


You're very kind, although I'm afraid we didn't necessarily help that much this time. It has made me realise that I don't know my Shakespeare as well as I thought.




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