It is not uncommon for directors, both film and theater alike, to perform a Shakespeare play in modern or non-Elizabethan settings with atypical casting choices, and the comedy As You Like It is no exception. Looking through twenty-first century adaptions of As You Like It, I noticed an interesting commonality between two recent film versions of the play (Kenneth Branagh’s 2006 production and Marika Sonja Cotter’s 2012 version titled LOVE: As You Like It): the De Boys characters were played by black men. Continue reading
When I had first watched the film My Own Private Idaho (1991), I was unaware of the specific references to Shakespeare’s Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V. Categorized and hyped as a queer-road-western film by the press, the Shakespearean element was largely overlooked in favor of the then-shocking reality that beloved teen heartthrob and James-Dean-lookalike River Phoenix was portraying a gay street hustler type.
Achieving cult status after the untimely and premature death of River Phoenix in October 1993, the film has been ranked and met with critical acclaim by many critics as one of the best films of the 1990s and the best performances actors Keanu Reeves and Phoenix will find in years. The Shakespearean element, rather than taking away from the realistic portrayal of the independent film, actually adds to the picture in how it helps to justify the eccentric art cinema effects and underline the central themes of the film.
Cory James Krueckeberg and Tom Gustafson’s musical adaptation of Shakespearean classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream utilizes the literary magic of Shakespeare to incorporate pressing and important present day issues regarding homophobia and toleration. Were The World Mine addresses the tale of Timothy (Tanner Cohen), a persecuted gay student at an all-boys private school outside of Chicago, and his fantastical forays into a dream world of songs, dance, and lustful mayhem. An anthem for acceptance and toleration, Were the World Mine incorporates traditional Elizabethan play elements, text, and costumes in the present world of an all male, testosterone-driven play setting. Continue reading