The title of this post is extremely misleading. I do not hate She’s the Man and I definitely don’t hate 10 whole things about it. Just one thing, really. It’s the way Channing Tatum says the line, “Why, why do you always talk about girls in such graphic terms?” But that is not what this post is about!
This post is about modern adaptations of Shakespearean plays. You know, like how 10 Things I Hate About You is a modern retelling of The Taming of the Shrew, with proms and paintball and Heath Ledger. The Hogarth Shakespeare Project is publishing a series of novels written by bestselling novelists, each interpreting a different one of Shakespeare’s classic works. The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson is the first in the series, and is a modern interpretation of Shakespeare’s The Winter’s Tale. Full disclosure: I knew nothing about The Winter’s Tale before reading The Gap of Time, and 100% of what I know about The Winter’s Tale now is because I read The Gap of Time. Which is different from what I know about, say, Hamlet, because I have both read Hamlet AND seen The Lion King on stage and screen, so I’m basically an expert on Hamlet and know enough about The Winter’s Tale to be a pretentious snob at a dinner party.
Shakespeare’s plots are big and twisty, with lots of complicated, intertwined relationships and dramatic reveals and just when you think things can’t get anymore tangled, they always do. Classic plots are classic for a reason – compelling stories can be retold and reimagined to reflect changing times and sensibilities. It’s how we wound up with Empire on our TVs every week – a show I routinely describe as being “so Shakespearean!” despite knowing that it is, in fact, a modern retelling of King Lear set in the world of hip-hop. I suppose that means they’re good at their jobs?
I have no idea if The Gap of Time is a faithful interpretation of The Winter’s Tale, as we have established that I don’t know the plot of The Winter’s Tale. But I can assure you that while reading it I audibly gasped several times and announced to a fellow book clubber that I couldn’t believe how Shakespearean this book was. Almost as though it was inspired by Shakespeare himself!
I would be a total failure as a human being and Book Club Sunday member if I didn’t use this opportunity to shout from the rooftops my wholehearted recommendation of the best modern interpretation of the Bard’s greatest comedy, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. If you have never seen the comedic masterpiece that is 2001’s Get Over It starring Kirsten Dunst, Ben Foster, and Martin Short, then I don’t even know what you’ve been doing with your entire life. Martin Short’s Dr. Desmond Forrest Oates, Fine Arts Chair and All That Hoopla, is directing a high school production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream that he has turned into a musical and renamed A Midsummer Night’s Rockin’ Eve. Hilarity ensues. Also Sisqo is in it. There is nothing not to love about this movie.
From the Disney Channel Original Movie Motocrossed (a modern Twelfth Night but with motocross!) to the musical West Side Story (Romeo & Juliet with rival 1950s street gangs and dancing!) I am always up for reimagined Shakespeare. I can’t even think of of a modern adaptation of Shakespeare that I haven’t liked. So to the future authors writing for the Hogarth Shakespeare Project, let me share with you a quote from the great Dr. Desmond Forrest Oates in Get Over It: “If you don’t sparkle, it’s your bad.” No pressure.
Wishing every day were Book Club Sunday,