Hillingdon Libraries continued to celebrate the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare’s death with a talk from writer and critic Andrew Dickson. The talk proved to be a fascinating insight into the international legacy of the Shakespearean texts and how they have been adapted around the world.
Appearing in the charming settings of Eastcote House Gardens, Andrew Dickson took the audience on a tour around the globe from England to Japan, Germany to India and Poland to the United States. In India we discovered the first “talkie” Shakespeare as well as the way Bollywood introduced dance routines into Othello (Omkara, 2006) and changed the racial themes to reflect contemporary social issues. In the United States we discovered a library in the heart of Washington DC that possessed over 80 editions of Shakespeare’s first folio. Hollywood has also adapted Shakespeare, perhaps most surprisingly adapting The Tempest into the technicolor science fiction movie Forbidden Planet (1956), with the role of Ariel replaced by screen legend Robbie the Robot. Japanese cinema has been equally creative in its re-imaginings of Shakespeare’s plays, adding not just elaborate fight scenes into Hamlet but also shifting the perspective to Hamlet’s mother Gertrude. Surprisingly, not only were the works of Shakespeare rediscovered by German romantic thinkers but they also continued to be staged and filmed during the Nazi regime during the Second World War. Dickson explained that in many of the countries he visited Shakespeare had been assumed into the national culture.
Four hundred years after Shakespeare’s death, the talk reminded us that Shakespeare continues to be adapted and changed, to take on new life in new countries, languages and interpretations.
We wish Andrew Dickson all the best in his future globetrotting Shakespearean hunting adventures.
Andrew Dickson’s new book World’s Elsewhere: Journeys Around Shakespeare’s Globe can be found in the Hillingdon Libraries catalogue or in all good book stores.
By Mark Ulrich
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