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"SHE IS BETTER THAN AN ACTRESS, SHE IS A WOMAN.” -VICTOR HUGO


alterations of Shakespeare, performing a happily-ever-after version of King Lear in which Lear lives and Cordelia takes the throne with her soon-to-be husband, Edgar.


TRANSLATION OR ADAPTATION? In 2016, Oregon Shakespeare Festival commissioned 36 playwrights to “translate” each line of Shakespeare’s plays into contemporary English, without altering the story, characters, or setting. The language Shakespeare wrote in is called Early Modern English, and English has evolved continuously since his time. Modern audiences often aren’t familiar with Shakespeare’s vocabulary, and allusions to 16th-century culture—things like falconry, fencing, or Greek myth—mean nothing to contemporary theatregoers. The line-by-line nature of this translation project puts the focus on making the play understood by audiences. •


Learn more about OSF’s Translating Shakespeare Project HERE


David Garrick as Hamlet, 1754. Garrick was known as the most painted man in England in his day, and pioneered the concept of actor-as-celebrity.


during production of a musical, the main characters are the director and leading lady, a far cry from Shakespeare’s Petruchio and Katherine of 15th century Italy. Turning to tragedy, Ran is a 1985 Japanese film that merges the plot of King Lear with the legend of a Japanese warlord. Ran employs both translation and adaptation, changing the language, medium, and context of Shakespeare’s play. More recently, Vishal Bhardwaj, an Indian filmmaker, produced Haidar, a 2014 Hindi-language adaptation of Hamlet. Haidar, a student, returns to his family home in Kashmir during a 1995 insurgency to find his father missing and his mother too friendly with his uncle.


Bernhardt wasn’t the first to produce an adaptation of Hamlet, nor was she last. Producers and actors have often altered Shakespeare’s text to fit their visions and the needs of their audiences. In 1772, the famous actor and producer David Garrick adapted Hamlet to make the play more palatable to his audiences and critics. He shortened Hamlet’s speeches, restored parts of the play that had been omitted in previous productions, and cut the gravediggers’ scene and much of the fifth act, radically altering the play’s ending. In the 19th century, producers went even further with


Show art for Roundabout's upcoming production of Kiss Me, Kate BERNHARDT/HAMLET UPSTAGE GUIDE 17


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