Friday, 12 October 2018

Shadows and Light Series Finale: Comedy to Tragedy

My final challenge is to recasting a short play so that the heroes become villains though with the same dialogue. My goal is to change a comedy into a tragedy.

I have recently read Anne-Marie MacDonald's Good Morning Desdemona (Good Night Juliet), which has a contemporary character dream her way into two Shakespeare plays such that she interacts with characters and plots of Othello and Romeo and Juliet. MacDonald wrote new lines for Shakespeare's characters and altered the personalities of Desdemona and Juliet so that they are not the sweet, gentle young ladies of the original.

I don't feel up to the task of pulling a MacDonald. Unveiling a multi-act play in a blog post doesn't seem practicable, either. I don't want to do elaborate alterations. I will stick with Shakespeare, though, since I know his work best, and his work is in the public domain and easily obtained. His plays aren't short, though. I will have to use one scene instead of one whole play. 

Yet how else can I turn a hero into a villain but through changes to dialogue? After all, the driver of a play is the dialogue. What a character says determines what kind of character it is.

I can, however, import dialogue from one play to another, such that the dialogue itself is unchanged, though the speaker and context are different.


A cheerful closing scene in a Shakespeare play is in The Tempest, whereby Prospero forgives everyone, and his daughter marries the King of Naples's noble son.

What, however, if Prospero were playing the long con like Iago and Richard III were? And he regrets some of what he has done (though it were done)? The epilogue delivered to the audience would have a different tone.


The Tempest, Act 5, SCENE I. Before PROSPERO'S cell.
Enter PROSPERO in his magic robes, and ARIEL
Exit
I have almost forgot the taste of fears;
The time has been, my senses would have cool'd
To hear a night-shriek; and my fell of hair
Would at a dismal treatise rouse and stir
As life were in't: I have supp'd full with horrors;
Direness, familiar to my slaughterous thoughts
Cannot once start me. (Macbeth 5.5.5-14)
Solemn music
Re-enter ARIEL before: then ALONSO, with a frantic gesture, attended by GONZALO; SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO in like manner, attended by ADRIAN and FRANCISCO they all enter the circle which PROSPERO had made, and there stand charmed; which PROSPERO observing, speaks:
Time, thou anticipatest my dread exploits:
The flighty purpose never is o'ertook
Unless the deed go with it; from this moment
The very firstlings of my heart shall be
The firstlings of my hand. (Macbeth 4.1.144-48)
I conjure you, by that which you profess,
Howe'er you come to know it, answer me:
Though you untie the winds and let them fight
Against the churches; though the yesty waves
Confound and swallow navigation up;
Though bladed corn be lodged and trees blown down;
Though castles topple on their warders' heads;
Though palaces and pyramids do slope
Their heads to their foundations; though the treasure
Of nature's germens tumble all together,
Even till destruction sicken; answer me
To what I ask you. (Macbeth 4.1.50-61)
Exit
Aside to SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO
When devils will the blackest sins put on,
They do suggest at first with heavenly shows,
As I do now (Iago, Othello 2.3.351-53)
Slave, I have set my life upon a cast,
And I will stand the hazard of the die: (Richard III 5.4.9-10)
Here PROSPERO discovers FERDINAND and MIRANDA playing at chess
Kneels
Re-enter ARIEL, with the Master and Boatswain amazedly following
Zounds, hold your peace! (Iago, Othello 5.2.216)
Aside to ARIEL
Exit ARIEL
Re-enter ARIEL, driving in CALIBAN, STEPHANO and TRINCULO, in their stolen apparel
Pointing to Caliban
Gentlemen, all, I do suspect this trash
To be a party in this injury. (Iago, Othello 5.1.85-86)

But I am in
So far in blood that sin will pluck on sin:
Tear-falling pity dwells not in this eye. (Richard III 4.2.63-65)
Exeunt CALIBAN, STEPHANO, and TRINCULO
Come, stand not amazed at it, but go along with
me; I will show you such a necessity in his death
that you shall think yourself bound to put it on
him.(Iago, Othello 4.2.239-43)
[Aside to SEBASTIAN and ANTONIO]
But yet I'll make assurance double sure,
And take a bond of fate: thou shalt not live;
That I may tell pale-hearted fear it lies,
And sleep in spite of thunder. (Macbeth 4.1)
Aside to ARIEL
The devil damn thee black, thou cream-faced loon!
Where got'st thou that goose look? (Macbeth 5.3.11-12)
Exeunt
No, he must die. (Iago, Othello 5.1.21)
Come, you are too severe a moraler: as the time,
the place, and the condition of this country
stands, I could heartily wish this had not befallen;
but, since it is as it is, mend it for your own good. (Iago, Othello 2.3.298-301)
I gin to be aweary of the sun,
And wish the estate o' the world were now undone. (Macbeth 5.3)
Demand me nothing: what you know, you know:
From this time forth I never will speak word. (Iago, Othello 5.2.299-300)
[Draws a sword, stabs self, and dies]

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