04 Nov 2015

Oregon Festival Translating Shakespeare into English

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Bust of Shakespeare, City Gate, Verona

The Federalist:

The Oregon Shakespeare Festival is translating William Shakespeare into English. If that seems strange, it should, because Shakespeare wrote his plays in English. All 39 of the bard’s works have been assigned a playwright and a dramaturge, who will alter its text to create a present-day, modern English version they hope will be more accessible to modern audiences.

That’s not all that lies behind this dubious effort. The Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF), in keeping with the spirit of modern theater, ensured that 50 percent of the artists involved are women and that 50 percent are people of color.

The mystery is: How did it come to pass that, everywhere you look in today’s America, the people in positions of power and responsibility are all the worst kind of blithering nincompoops?

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“The mystery is: How did it come to pass that, everywhere you look in today’s America, the people in positions of power and responsibility are all the worst kind of blithering nincompoops?”

When the history of this benighted era is written, assuming anyone is left to write or read it, the above question will be the starting point of any serious analysis.

I personally have some theories, but I would love to read a book tying together all the aberrant philosophies of the last 100 years or so, with an eye to explaining where and when it all started to go downhill.


Ashland Oregon is kinda unique. It is populated mostly by ex-Californians but not just any Californians but the early immigrants from California who recognized what a shithole they had turned California into. Ashland is home to liberal, uptight, self identified intellectual, trouble making busybodies. You can shit on the sidewalk (if you are homeless) but you cannot buy food in the supermarket that is not labeled organic. There is a Walmart but not in the city because they wouldn’t allow a Walmart in Ashland. If a tree dies on your property you cannot remove it and if you do the city will fine you and the nieghbors (recently immigrated from the shit hole to the South) will sue you.


I feel about this the same way as I feel about the incessant attempts to translate the Bible into English. An educated populace doesn’t need to be coddled to that extent, and a populace becomes educated by, for instance, wrestling with the archaicisms of Shakespeare or the KJV.


I lived in California for about fifteen years and I didn’t realize how much that California-ness seeped into me until I moved. I moved to a state where zoning send to be almost non-nexistent. One of my first thoughts was, “Why doesn’t any one zone more/better here to keep that crap out?” And then I realized how that was fifteen years of living in California coming out… I sooooo didn’t want to be the typical Californian who moves some place and ruins that place, too. I’ve been here about for years and am starting to get more normal. Whew!

On the subject — I certainly don’t mind some of the adaptations of Shakespeare (there were certainly some interesting Yiddish adaptions of Shakespeare, and “Ten Things I Hate About You” was kind of a cute movie), but to do a modern adaptation and call it a “translation” and to do it because you think people are too stupid to “get” the original is both disingenuous and supercilious beyond belief. Most adaptations are done because someone (director/producer/writer) thinks that the original is pretty universal and really speaks to a specific situation well. I think this Oregon Shakespeare crap is more about then proving how brilliant they are and how stupid the rest of us are.

Phil McKann

r/K selection is as plausible explanation as any. Rewarding people who make bad decisions is bad for society.

I can’t predict the future, but I’d say a hard rain’s gonna fall if the economy collapses and the girly-men and single moms have to get tough or die.


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