Category Archives: Adaptation

She’s the Man versus Twelfth Night

Why don’t we rewind a little and go back to Twelfth Night. As many of you already know, She’s the Man is based on Twelfth Night. I’ll be honest; it took me until the second act to figure it out. When I finally did, I just sat stunned and amazed. I should probably let you know that I have seen She’s the Man more than I really care to admit. I used to love Amanda Bynes (pre-head shave). Any ways, I wanted to share with you the similarities and differences I noticed with this adaptation.

The most prominent difference is that in She’s the Man Viola intentionally disguises herself as her brother (there is no mere coincidence that her and Sebastian look the same). However, Viola in the play and movie decide “such disguise” “become[s] the form of [their] intent.” (1.2.55-6).

Only the main characters are the same in both. Viola and Sebastian are twins in both as well. There is no Andrew-Toby-Maria subplot in the movie because it is centered on Viola, Duke, Olivia and Sebastian. Viola by far is the main character though. Orsino (the Duke) in the play is represented by a gentleman named Duke Orsino- as in Duke is his first name. Genius right? Sebastian, Olivia and Viola are all represented by characters of the same name. Malvolio is represented by a character named Malcolm. Similarly to Malvolio in the play, Malcolm has a creepy infatuation with Olivia although she shows no interest. Malcolm is also similar to Sir Andrew in his repeated attempts to court Olivia and his contempt for Viola as Sebastian. Ironically (well not so ironically actually), Malcolm has a tarantula named Malvolio!

In the movie Viola disguises herself as Sebastian (who is in London playing music) to prove that girls can play soccer as well as guys. This attempt to prove that as a woman she can play soccer as well as the guys allows for several gender references in the movie. Examples such as extensive negative emphasis on Viola’s similarities to Sebastian, a soccer coach saying “girls can’t play soccer” and Viola’s mother encouraging her to become a debutante (class reference!) exemplify perceived roles of women in She’s the Man. Both Violas use their disguise to “allow [them] very worth” (1.2.60) the things women are denied.

The basic Viola-Orsino-Olivia love triangle from the play remains in the movie. Duke is interested in Olivia (whom is pretty and popular) but she expresses her interest in Viola as Sebastian and Viola/Sebastian falls in love with Duke. As in Twelfth Night, Duke requires Viola’s assistance with courting Olivia. The setting of Illyria is similar as well. The school that Sebastian (or Viola as Sebastian) goes to is called Illyria. Lines in the movie are even the same as in the play. The lines “be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve/ greatness and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” (2.5.129-31) are spoken in both.  Near the end of the movie, Duke delivers the lines to the soccer team and Viola and Malvolio reads them aloud from the letter in the play. She’s the Man and Twelfth Night both end with the formation of relationships. In the play everybody gets married and in the movie there is a debutante ball to which everybody has an escort.

As I read Twelfth Night, I struggled with thinking about and comparing it to She’s the Man. Perhaps, after reading this, you will too (if not you should at least watch the movie). If you live under a rock and have no clue what She’s the Man is, you can watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_UiPki2uxM8 I also thought I would let you know that the Roger Ebert movie even compares She’s the Man to Twelfth night (or at least makes references)! You can read that here: http://www.rogerebert.com/reviews/shes-the-man-2006. Lastly, I came across this comparison of She’s the Man and Twelfth night I thought might be interesting: https://prezi.com/jpta3qwk-bfb/comparison-of-twelfth-night-and-shes-a-man/. Enjoy!

Ashley Anderson

 

 Sources:

  • Ebert, R. “She’s the Man.” com. Ebert Digital LLC, 16 Mar. 2006. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.
  • Gounder, V. “Comparison of Twelfth Night and She’s the Man”. Prezi. Prezi Inc, 4 Dec. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.
  • Paramount Movies. “She’s The Man Trailer.” Online video clip. YouTube. YouTube, 21 Oct. 2013. Web. 9 Apr. 2015.
  • Shakespeare, William. Twelfth Night. Ed. David Carnegie and Mark Houlahan. Peterborough: Broadview Press/ Internet Shakespeare Editions, 2014. Print.
  • She’s the Man. Dir. Andy Fickman. Perf. Amanda Bynes, Channing Tatum, Laura Ramsey, Vinnie Jones, David Cross. DreamWorks, 2006. DVD.

Open Links to Performances (Performance Badge)

As You Like It – 1936 film version

Helpful version as it contains subtitles for retention and comprehension of material not covered in class. A great comedy to pair with Twelfth Night, and resourceful for unpacking themes within the pastoral mode.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=wFChichBoPl

To Kill Myself – Rape of Lucrece 

Wonderfully artistic visioning from The Royal Shakespeare Company.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vd2ddYAUIY

Act 3, Scene 2 – The Winter’s Tale 

Perhaps for me the standout example of a well spoken, educated, strong woman in all the texts covered this semester. A great reminder of our lectures covering the power and importance of words.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vm7beWekpa8

Romeo and Juliet – Onscreen footage

Everyone’s classic introduction to Shakespeare. I was reminded heavily of the play when reading The genres of Shakespeare’s plays, by Susan Snyder as she talks in depth about the reflection of youth in Shakespeare’s works. Characters become representations of the time period and a refection of society. This is set up immediately  in Romeo and Juliet’s prologue, “Two households, both alike in dignity|In fair Verona, where we lay our scene|From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,|where civil blood makes civil hands unclean” (1.Pro.1-3).

www.youtube.com/watch?v=FHoaPLO6zd8

Act 5, Scene 3 – King Lear 

Continuing the consideration of genre, King Lear is a great example of ego and pride leading to a tragic end (which cannot be evaded). This is a very emotionally powerful clip displaying the effects of time within a tragedy.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=_MpGb0nJ3eM

 

 

King Lear: Theater Performance vs. Movie Adaptation

Last weekend, I finally got to see my first live play ever – King Lear at Max Bell Theater.

I found it thoroughly enjoyable (also it was more fun than the movie, for me at least). Here is a response on my experience with the play as opposed to the movie.

My first dilemma with the play was, well, on what I should be wearing. It was my first live play ever, and Shakespearean too – I wanted to be sophisticated (silly little whims, I know). On the other hand, with the movie, the first dilemma was: I have read the play, how long can I delay watching the movie until it is absolutely necessary?

Jokes aside (yes, those were jokes. Ha ha, very funny, Jayesha, please proceed), it was certainly not what I had expected. There were lighting directions and sound effects. It did aid in where the director had wanted to focus the scene on. However, everything else that was not directly under the spotlight was till open to interpretation and analyzing.  With the movie, the camera would zoom into a specific part of the act and force you to focus on that.

Furthermore, I felt that the actors that played the characters were more close to my own imagination when I first read the play. The costuming, however, were very similar in the movie and the play. King Lear is initially dressed in red: madness, passion, rage. The two sisters are dressed in darker colors: evil, cunning, deceitful, jealous. And  Cordelia is in lighter colors: pure, innocent, untarnished.

Moreover, I did notice the play was easier to follow along with, when compared to the movie. The lines were still powerfully delivered, but they were clear and carried more raw emotion. Perhaps, it was because the actors knew that this was now or never, as opposed to in a movie, when you have the liberty of redoing a scene if there is a light mishap.

I also found the play more captivating than the movie. The movie seemed to lag on and on, although they were the same lengths.

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The Ticket 😀

All in all, it was a wonderful experience and I know this is something I would like to make a part of my hobbies – live plays and reviews on them.

 

Stratford’s King Lear

What a wonderful performance of King Lear. The whole film rounded out to about three hours, but it was so engaging that the time didn’t matter. The actors, the camera work, and the special effects held my attention the entire time. There was no time when the play seemed to be dragging on for too long, though I did appreciate the intermission. Filming the performance gave them the ability to focus in on certain characters in order to control who we looked at. One of the scenes that stood out to me the most for this was the one where King Lear is dividing up his land between his daughters. Unlike the Ian Mckellen version, there is more focus on Cordelia in the scene even before she says “Nothing”. While her sisters are making their speeches of love for their father, the camera cuts to Cordelia a few times and her reaction to what her father has asked them to do as well as her sisters’ words. She has a few asides that were not included in the Ian Mckellen version which gives her more importance earlier on in the scene and our anticipation of her own speech to her father is heightened. One part I especially liked was when King Lear takes Cordelia’s dowry, this act is emphasized even more by the king snatching the crown from her head, physically taking his favour from her.

Another difference between the Stratford Festival version and the Ian Mckellen version, is seen in Regan’s character. In the Mckellen version she has to be prodded by her husband to continue in her speech of love to her father instead of simply agreeing with what her sister says. This made it seem as though Regan’s actions are mostly caused by the positions and opinions of those around her. In the Stratford version, Regan walks right up to the king and puts her hands on his shoulders from behind as she makes her speech. There is no pause in her words, giving her the appearance of confidence as well as self-power instead of relying on others.

When it came to the effects, it was the lighting that caught my attention the most. Some scene changes were brought on merely by casting the back part of the stage in darkness and creating almost a second stage at the front for the next scene. This worked so that when the back part of the stage is lighted again they can return to the setting they had before without having to take it away and then put it back. The lighting was also used to create specific moods, especially in the case of Edmond. In one of the scenes he speaks to the crowd and the entire stage is darkened except for him, creating a more sinister feeling to his words.

The opening scene to the play was also different from the Mckellen version, as it started with a few homeless men wandering the stage before they’re scared off by a soldier. Perhaps they were using this as a foreshadowing to how the higher class, especially Edgar and Gloucester, end up falling to that level. One of the men also appears throughout the play as a sort of guide to Edgar. I believe this ties in quite nicely with the quote: “Tis the time’s plague, when madmen lead the blind” (4.1), spoken by Gloucester.

All in all it was a wonderful performance by Stratford and a pleasure to watch.

Stratford Festival’s King Lear

This weekend I got to see King Lear as put on by the Stratford Festival at Cineplex. I really, really enjoyed the performance and all throughout the film I was taking notes, as you can see is rather difficult in a dark theatre, but I had some things I could sort of make sense of, enough to help me write this response to it.

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I love movies and have a great love of cinematography, and knowing this performance to be a stage performance, I wasn’t expecting much in the way of cinematography, but I was really pleasantly surprised. There were incredibly varying shots and angles that were very well cut between; there was a great sense of fluidity. The framing could have been improved in some places but for the most part I was really impressed.

Being a performance on a stage, it was really interesting to see the audience in the background of some shots and to actually feel like you were watching a play in that theatre. The layout of the stage was very interesting, a much different shape than I am used to performing on or seeing, and it allowed for the audience to be seated on three of the four sides of the stage. Watching a film performance of this was made really interesting because the camera had so many places to be and actors could sidestep the traditional rule of never having your back to the audience, yet this didn’t affect a film audience’s viewing because the camera angles directed the focus properly. Sometimes some members of the audience would be unable to see a character except the back of them, but I think that this is a small sacrifice in order to offer a more three-dimensional experience. As well, the stage’s different levels allowed for the actors to play at different physical levels, such as when Edmund died on the stairs, and gave them different entrances and exits; there was a lot of variation and the blocking never got boring.

The special effects were something I really enjoyed and even before seeing the performance I was already excited and curious about seeing the storm sequence and wondering how it would be done – there was some fantastic lighting for lightning, it was very realistic, and great sound for thunder, and then fog machines were used and the actors played being in the rain very convincingly. Other sound effects, especially for the wounds, like the sound of Glocester’s eyes being gouged out, were very impressive. Theatre as an experience is immersive, and I think the power of it could be seen here. In the McKellan version, there were some lighting choices or backdrops that looked so bad that I was rolling my eyes, but not here. Though the staging and lighting was minimal at parts, it completely captured me and held my attention, concentrating it solely on the action and being free from distraction. It’s a bit difficult to explain the true power of theatre, and it didn’t get lost here even in a film version. Although there may have been less stuff like props and set pieces than in the TV movie version, I found this performance altogether more immersive and enjoyable than the McKellan.

One thing that I didn’t enjoy about the McKellan version that we watched was that the costumes were too varied in their time periods and styles; here, that problem was nonexistent. During the intermission there was a behind the scenes featurette from the Stratford Festival in which they detailed the costuming, dying, painting, wig and jewel making and it was so impressive, and that could definitely be seen on stage. I really enjoyed all the costumes and loved the little subtleties that added so much to the viewing. For instance, while in the opening scene, all of Lear’s daughters wore ruff collars on their dresses, only Cordelia’s was a full ruff, Goneril and Regan had ruffs similar to the other version, they were open and gave the impression of a serpent or lizard, which is what the sisters were compared to. The most impressive subtlety for me was in Lear – after dividing his kingdom, little by little you could see that some of his buttons were undone, his shirt was loose, his boots were not the same height – all these little details just showed how he was unravelling, and it was brilliantly done and really accentuated what was going on.

The makeup was absolutely fantastic. I’ve worked with fake blood before in school, a really cheap kind that’s mostly sugar and starts to lose the colour of blood after a few minutes, so I’m always really interested in how fake blood is done in movies and  theatre – it is so difficult to replicate because blood is cells – and the makeup here was fantastic. The blood of Gloucester was very convincing, from the blood that came out of his eyes and what stained his clothing, being the right kind of brown, but in particular, after his bandages were taken off, the empty eye sockets were really stunning and believable, even in the close up shots of him. The dirt and marks on characters like Edgar and Lear were also very good.

While the characters said the same lines in both versions, I thought that the differences in some of the directors’ and actors’ choices led to very different interpretations of the characters, and differences in my feelings towards the characters. This I felt most strongly in the characters of Goneril and Regan. I think that a great deal of this came from how the actresses looked. In the McKellan version, Goneril and Regan were very severe looking and looked much older, here, they didn’t look so scary, and so didn’t seem so evil. Goneril for me in particular did not seem evil, she actually seemed genuine in her pleading with Lear – this could just be how good her character was as an actress, but some of my belief in her evil intentions was lost. As the play progressed, she seemed more selfish than truly evil, and there is some room for debate about which she really is, or if she is more of one than the other. Even so, in this version, Regan seemed  to me to be the one who was more evil, more conniving and less likeable, and I thought it was very interesting to see her as more capable and independent, especially since in the McKellan version we saw Cornwall whispering to her, prodding her to speak more when she was telling Lear how much she loved him – that painted her as weak. Another interesting character interpretation was of Edgar – when he was first introduced, he was feverishly kissing a maid – something I didn’t expect from a character who in the end seemed so perfect. All in all, the interpretations and representations of the characters were delightfully surprising, even if they did differ from expectations.

The performances were truly remarkable and I felt a greater understanding of the plot, characters and dialogue after seeing this interpretation. The actor of Lear was magnificent, and I also really enjoyed Gloucester, Cordelia, and Edgar in particular. The performances were powerful and engaging and I really admired the acting choices made, from where the actors looked or didn’t look, their blocking and their speech. One thing that did bother me however was the delivery of asides and monologues. In particular, Edmund’s lines felt catered to the audience; he was reacting to their laughter and seemed to be speaking directly to them as if knowing that they were there, but I didn’t have this sense with any other character. It seemed to me that all the other characters were expressing their thoughts in their asides and monologues, but not to the audience, and you could see this in the way they reacted to the audience, the way they looked at them and the way they spoke. The lack of consistency was a bit annoying but on the whole I still think that the Stratford Festival did an incredible job in delivering a captivating play.