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For Carmen: "make it your own"

I like her philosophy: thanks for sharing this, Carmen!


Carmenere_lady wrote:
...on a previous B&N author led book club, Sarah Durant - The Birth of Venus - said something that will always stick in my thick head:smileywink:. When some of the readers were not happy with the ending of her story and mentioned ways in which they would have come to its conclusion, she said, and this is not verbatim, once I have completed a novel and it is at the bookstore, it is no longer mine. It is yours to eat, digest and make it your own.
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Re: Various productions and some weapons.

Great links Choisya. Thank you! I agree that the idea of the witches in red is interesting as well as the interpretation that they could be seen as revolutionary because of their possible influence on Macbeth. I also don't think it's a conincidence that Lady Macbeth is dressed in the same color.




Choisya wrote:
Here are a couple of video clips of a 2005 production at The Globe, which folks may find interesting:-

http://www.oldglobe.org/the_globe/show_production.asp?pPK=410

I find the red witches interesting and thought the interpretation might be that they were, in a sense, agents of revolution because their 'influence' overthrew Duncan's throne.

And a production from Alaska:-

http://www.indiancountry.com/content.cfm?id=1096414640

And here are some illustrations of the various weapons used in Macbeth productions over the centuries, which reveal the variety of historical interpretations:-

http://pw1.netcom.com/~cecilymc/article4.html

This article also made me wonder about the number of different costumes, weapons, props etc theatres have for their productions and how this must affect their productions over a number of years - assuming that an average repertory company would not be able to afford to replace such items frequently. Perhaps Alfpro could comment on this from his acting experience?

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-22-200705:15 AM




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S-O-S
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Re: Unsupported opinions welcome! (Off topic)



Choisya wrote:


As the language of Shakespeare is archaic and often ambiguous

Actually, Shakespeare's language is Modern English, so I don't know if it would be correct to refer to it as archaic. And, actually, we know the meaning of nearly every word Shakespeare used, so I don't know if it would be correct to refer to it as often ambiguous.
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Laurel
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Ambiguity



S-O-S wrote:


Choisya wrote:


As the language of Shakespeare is archaic and often ambiguous

Actually, Shakespeare's language is Modern English, so I don't know if it would be correct to refer to it as archaic. And, actually, we know the meaning of nearly every word Shakespeare used, so I don't know if it would be correct to refer to it as often ambiguous.





Ambiguity is a hallmark of Shakespeare's writing, and part of what has made it fascinating for so many generations.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: I love a good debate!



KristyR wrote:
I hate to even mention this, but they did do a movie of Pride and Prejudice with people living in modern citites and driving around in motorcars. The 2003 version of Pride and Prejudice by Excel Entertainment Group, is a modern-day make over of Jane Austen's timeless tale, set in Utah, the Bennet's are Mormons, and instead of 4 sisters Elizabeth has 4 housemates and is a college student! I haven't watched it. B&N doesn't even carry it, but if you're morbidly curious it's on Amazon.




You are kidding, aren't you?

Did they market it as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?
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Choisya
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Re: Unsupported opinions welcome! (Off topic)

Point taken SOS although I was meaning 'archaic' as compared with our own usage not as referring to the ancients etc: 'Of, relating to or characteristic of words and language that were once in regular use but are now relatively rare and suggestive of an earlier style of period.' And by ambiguous I meant the secondary definition of: 'being understood in two or more possible senses or ways'. (OEED 1991 definitions.)




S-O-S wrote:


Choisya wrote:


As the language of Shakespeare is archaic and often ambiguous

Actually, Shakespeare's language is Modern English, so I don't know if it would be correct to refer to it as archaic. And, actually, we know the meaning of nearly every word Shakespeare used, so I don't know if it would be correct to refer to it as often ambiguous.



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Choisya
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Re: Ambiguity

Laurel wrote:
Ambiguity is a hallmark of Shakespeare's writing, and part of what has made it fascinating for so many generations.


Very true Laurel and, as you probably know, this is why William Empson made so many references to Shakespeare, particularly the Sonnets, when he wrote Seven Types of Ambiguity. There are a couple of examples on this rather nice website on Shakespeare's sonnets:-

http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/73comm.htm
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KristyR
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Re: I love a good debate!



Everyman wrote:


KristyR wrote:
I hate to even mention this, but they did do a movie of Pride and Prejudice with people living in modern citites and driving around in motorcars. The 2003 version of Pride and Prejudice by Excel Entertainment Group, is a modern-day make over of Jane Austen's timeless tale, set in Utah, the Bennet's are Mormons, and instead of 4 sisters Elizabeth has 4 housemates and is a college student! I haven't watched it. B&N doesn't even carry it, but if you're morbidly curious it's on Amazon.




You are kidding, aren't you?

Did they market it as Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice?


I'm not kidding! The title of the movie is Pride & Prejudice, on the back it says "In this modern-day makeover of Jane Austen's timeless tale, Elizabeth Bennet is determined to ignore the frenzied follies of dating and focus on her studies and friends." It sounds more like Mary than Elizabeth!
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Re: Ambiguity



Choisya wrote:
Laurel wrote:
Ambiguity is a hallmark of Shakespeare's writing, and part of what has made it fascinating for so many generations.


Very true Laurel and, as you probably know, this is why William Empson made so many references to Shakespeare, particularly the Sonnets, when he wrote Seven Types of Ambiguity. There are a couple of examples on this rather nice website on Shakespeare's sonnets:-

http://www.shakespeares-sonnets.com/73comm.htm




Thanks, Choisya! I am unfamiliar with Empson's book, but it sounds fascinating. And thank you for reminding me of that lovely sonnet site.
"Truth must of necessity be stranger than fiction, for fiction is the creation of the human mind, and therefore is congenial to it." ~~G.K. Chesterton
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Re: I love a good debate!



KristyR wrote:
I'm not kidding! The title of the movie is Pride & Prejudice, on the back it says "In this modern-day makeover of Jane Austen's timeless tale, Elizabeth Bennet is determined to ignore the frenzied follies of dating and focus on her studies and friends." It sounds more like Mary than Elizabeth!


Sigh.

What else is there to say?
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Is ANYTHING too far?

At this point, I guess it's time to ask this question.

Is there ANYTHING that is going too far in "interpreting" or "adapting" classic works? Or is absolutely anything that any director (whether film or stage) wants to put on under the title and name of an author fair game?

Is it legitimate to put anything at all that I want to on a piece of film and call it an interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear?

Should responsible directors observe any limits at all? If so, what?
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cheryl_shell
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Re: Is ANYTHING too far?


Everyman wrote:
At this point, I guess it's time to ask this question.

Is there ANYTHING that is going too far in "interpreting" or "adapting" classic works? Or is absolutely anything that any director (whether film or stage) wants to put on under the title and name of an author fair game?

Is it legitimate to put anything at all that I want to on a piece of film and call it an interpretation of Shakespeare's King Lear?

Should responsible directors observe any limits at all? If so, what?




Well, I am a believer in free speech, as you no doubt realize. People can put on what they wish because there is no copyright infringement to worry about in Shakespeare's case. But that doesn't mean audiences will like what they do.

I saw a production of Romeo and Juliet at University of California at Davis some years ago that I thought was absolutely dreadful! Every actor was in drag--and not in the Elizabethan style, with men really trying to be women, but just a bunch of men wearing dresses--modern dresses at that, and no attempt at long hair or even makeup. In addition, there was constant, loud, obnoxious rock music that drowned out the speeches of the actors. But it didn't matter, because none of them seemed to be taking their speeches seriously anyway. And this was presented at a Shakespeare conference, for the delight of scholars! Needless to say, I left at the first break. Of course, there were some people raving about it.

I prefer the traditional productions of Shakespeare myself. But I think that many directors are so tired of doing Shakespeare the same way over and over that they are dying to do a new twist. They get jaded with plain old Shakespeare and want to jazz it up. But in my opinion, they're doing it for themselves more than they are the public, especially those in the public who may never have seen a Shakespeare play before. I don't think it necessarily makes Shakespeare more accessible to update the setting or the plot without changing the language. And once you change the language, you are effectively doing an adaptation rather than a Shakespeare play.

But there are many people who love to see the new twists on the old classics. So, I say, why not let them? But I have my limits, too.
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Re: Is ANYTHING too far?


cheryl_shell wrote:
I think that many directors are so tired of doing Shakespeare the same way over and over that they are dying to do a new twist. They get jaded with plain old Shakespeare and want to jazz it up. But in my opinion, they're doing it for themselves more than they are the public, especially those in the public who may never have seen a Shakespeare play before. I don't think it necessarily makes Shakespeare more accessible to update the setting or the plot without changing the language. And once you change the language, you are effectively doing an adaptation rather than a Shakespeare play.

AMEN, AMEN, AMEN.

I couldn't agree more, particularly with the point that directors often do these things for their own benefit more than for the benefit of the audience.

One further point I think you overlooked is that while I'm sure there are some people in any audience who really seek to understand and appreciate why the director is doing what he or she is doing with a work, there are also many who pretend to appreciate the most absurd things because it is part of the modern art "scene" to praise the least understandable "art" projects most of all because art is at its best when it is least understandable. To admit that you don't appreciate or understand a work of modern art is to self-label yourself a philistine.

Flanders and Swann had a nice song on somewhat this line.

We're terribly House & Garden at number 7B,
We live in a most amusing Mews, ever so very contemporary.
We're terribly House & Garden - the money that one spends
To make a place that won't disgrace our House & Garden friends.
We've planned an uninhibited interior decor,
Curtains made of straw,
We've wallpapered the floor.
We don't know if we like it
But at least be can be sure:
There's no place like home sweet home.

It's fearfully Maison - Jardin at number 7B.
We've rediscovered the chandelier:
Très, très very contemporary.
We're terribly House & Garden though at last we've got the chance.
The garden's full of furniture and the house is full of plants.
It doesn't make for comfort but it simply has to be
'Cos we're ever so terrible up-to-date, comtempo-rar-ary.

Have you a home that cries out to your every visitor "here lives someone who is exciting to know?" No? Well, why not collect those little metal bottle tops and nail them, upside-down, to the floor? This will give a sensation... of walking on little metal bottle-tops turned upside-down.

Why not get hold of an ordinary Northumbrian spoke-shaver's coracle, paint it in contrasting stripes of, say, telephone black and white white, and hang it up in the hall for a guitar tidy for parties.

Why not drop in one evening for a mess of potage, our specialty, just aubergine and carnation petals, with a six-shilling bottle of Mule du Pape, a feast fit for a King.

I'm delirious about our new cooker fitment, with the eye-level grill. This means, that without my having to bend down, the hot fat can squirt straight into my eye.

We're frightfully House & Garden at number 7B
The walls are patterned with shrunken heads:
Ever so very contemporary.
Our boudoir on the open plan
Has been a huge success,
Though everywhere's so open
There's nowhere safe to dress.
With little screens and bottle-lamps
And motifs here and there
And mobiles in the air
And ivy everywhere
You musn't be surprised to meet a cactus on the stair
But we call it home sweet home.

We're terribly House & Garden, as I think we said before
But though 7B is madly gay
It wouldn't do for every day.
We actually live in 7A,
In the house next door.
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Choisya
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Re: Too far?

[ Edited ]
Cheryl wrote:
I prefer the traditional productions of Shakespeare myself. But I think that many directors are so tired of doing Shakespeare the same way over and over that they are dying to do a new twist. They get jaded with plain old Shakespeare and want to jazz it up. But in my opinion, they're doing it for themselves more than they are the public, especially those in the public who may never have seen a Shakespeare play before.


As I have posted elsewhere, I think we have to think of the economics of mounting theatrical productions, which are enormously costly. For every 'traditional' production attended by relatively few people, a 'blockbuster' has to be mounted to recoup the costs. So those of us who like traditional theatre should IMO be grateful for the creativity of the producers who mount plays which draw crowds to the theatre. I have several times heard famous Shakespearean actors interviewed who have said that being in a popular Shakespeare film or blockbuster theatrical performance has enabled them to tour with a less popular play.

I am shortly going to see an acclaimed but 'way out' production of MND, using trapeze artists, acrobats etc and I have been reading that this production has revived the fortunes of a famous outer London theatre called The Roundhouse. I am grateful for that and for other 'way out' productions which keep our theatres open because, since the advent of film and TV, many have stuggled to keep going. So Vive le Difference I say:smileyhappy:

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-22-200708:08 PM

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Re: Too far?



Choisya wrote:
As I have posted elsewhere, I think we have to think of the economics of mounting theatrical productions, which are enormously costly. For every 'traditional' production attended by relatively few people, a 'blockbuster' has to be mounted to recoup the costs. So those of us who like traditional theatre should IMO be grateful for the creativity of the producers who mount plays which draw crowds to the theatre.

That's a fair point, but at least on this side of the ocean the blockbuster shows are musicals like CATS, A Chorus Line, Evita, and the like, not Shakespeare no matter how bizarrely portrayed.

And Shakespearean productions don't actually have to be enormously expensive. There are many excellent local rep theaters which can produce plays with quite good actors and actresses at a quite reasonable cost -- the greater Seattle area has several such groups. College and University theater groups can do the same, and small community theater groups like the one on our island produce quite competent Shakespearean plays at a minimal cost.

I agree that if you're going to use big name actors, lavish sets and costumes, extensive theatrical lighting displays, and the like, it can be very costly to mount a production. But Shakespeare is just as much (if not more) Shakespeare on bare boards, minimalist lighting and sets, well made homemade costumes, and actors who are quite capable even if they can't command high salaries.

I don't know about over there, but over here during the 1800s and 1900s many small communities "did" Shakespeare locally, quite successfully -- many backwoods youths with limited formal education knew their Bible, their Pilgrim's Progress, and their Shakespeare by heart. Urbanization, industrialization (which took away the winter boredom farming imposed and which made theatrical evenings such a delight), the movies, and later TV have badly eroded the tradition of local community Shakespeare theater. But the principle remains that the play's the thing, and while enormous sums can turn the plays into vast spectacles, the heart of Shakespeare beats equally strongly for those of much lower ambitions.
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alfprof212
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Re: Various productions and some weapons.

Thank you, Choisya. I would be glad to comment (but for the record, I'm a woman). :smileyhappy:

As a former member of a local community theater, I can say that putting on a production of Shakespeare is quite a challenge. Many people, like Everyman, are traditionalists, and insist on keeping strictly to the costumes and settings used in Shakespeare's time. Unfortunately, community theater budgets are quite small, and actors are professionals enjoying a hobby, who have little time to donate for additional tasks. Therefore, many productions become updated out of necessity more than creative license. I can say that I have seen many "adapted" and "interpreted" productions of Shakespeare and find something good in each of them.

To speak of these different kinds of productions, both in theater and on film: When Baz Lurhman's interpretation of "Romeo and Juliet" (which was marketed with Shakespeare's name), I was completely turned off by it. However, upon seeing it, I quickly adopted it as a favorite. I have also seen a modern-day adaptation of "King Lear" and loved it as well. In the beginning days of studying Shakespeare, I thought those who changed the settings or costumes of the plays should be "burned at the stake." I do still enjoy the traditional performances just as much as the updated ones. However, since I have become a high school English teacher who wants to encourage her students to think for themselves and find their own voices, I am now also a proponent of other interpretations and adaptations. I continually find they make for great discussions (much like this one!) in my classes, especially comparing a traditional version with a modern version. I believe it's all about who you are that affects how you interpret certain things. To me, interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare's plays are not about changing a classic, they're about working with a timeless theme. Merely the fact that small community theaters such as mine can update Shakespeare's plays to fit a budget speaks to their openness to interpretation. IMHO, traditional versions are also merely interpretations of Shakespeare's words. We do not know how Shakespeare himself interpreted his own words, so how can we say "this is how Shakespeare would have performed this play"? Yes, using period costumes and minimal set such as in Shakespeare's day is part of the traditional idea, but how do we know how each actor said his lines? How do we know what blocking (movement and placement of actors onstage) Shakespeare gave his actors? How do we know what magic Shakespeare might have worked in interpreting his own plays today? Might he have thoroughly enjoyed Lurhman's production, or chastized it? Would he find great joy in watching a Genghis Kahn version of "Macbeth?" We DON'T know, which is why I will always continue to watch and analyze both traditional and modern versions of his plays. "There are no limits to the imagination" is one of my favorite sayings (though I'm not quite sure who said it, and I may be paraphrasing) because to me, it truly addresses the way all literature should be read, interpreted, and adapted. :smileyhappy:




Choisya wrote:
This article also made me wonder about the number of different costumes, weapons, props etc theatres have for their productions and how this must affect their productions over a number of years - assuming that an average repertory company would not be able to afford to replace such items frequently. Perhaps Alfpro could comment on this from his acting experience?

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-22-200705:15 AM




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Re: Various productions and some weapons.

[ Edited ]
Thanks a lot Alfpro - that was very enlightening. I haven't taught or acted but I have been involved in backstage work for a couple of repertory companies so know of some of the problems you outline. When I wrote about the economics of production, blockbusters v. traditional etc. I was thinking of the major theatres in the West End or on Broadway etc - the 'shakers and movers' of the theatre who have kept it all going for us and who have kept Shakespeare and other playwrights in the public eye over the centuries. I meant that their 'blockbuster' MND's and films are the productions which will subsidise other less popular productions and enable their leading actors to do provincial tours. The MND with trapeze artists I am shortly going to see has already resurrected an old London theatre and will soon be going to Broadway where no doubt it will, in turn, do something for Shakespearean theatre there, thereby enabling more traditional or less popular productions to be mounted. Economists often talk about the 'trickle down' effect of wealth and IMO there is a 'trickle down' effect from the top international theatres to local ones.

Regarding the various weapons shown in my link, their sizes, weight etc., I wondered how the size of weapon, particularly its weight, affected the way that an actor stood or moved about the stage, which would in turn affect the way dialogue was spoken. Are you able to comment on that aspect, especially for the leading players like, say Macbeth? (Ditto period costumes, armour etc.) I expect that today many replicas can be made from lightweight plastic but that won't have been the case years ago and in any case, for authenticity's sake, a producer of a traditional performance might think it better to have players wielding the heavy weapons used in Elizabethan or Restoration times so that actors had realistic stances and movement?

(I had thought you were a bloke from the 'Alf'- sorry:smileyhappy:)







alfprof212 wrote:
Thank you, Choisya. I would be glad to comment (but for the record, I'm a woman). :smileyhappy:

As a former member of a local community theater, I can say that putting on a production of Shakespeare is quite a challenge. Many people, like Everyman, are traditionalists, and insist on keeping strictly to the costumes and settings used in Shakespeare's time. Unfortunately, community theater budgets are quite small, and actors are professionals enjoying a hobby, who have little time to donate for additional tasks. Therefore, many productions become updated out of necessity more than creative license. I can say that I have seen many "adapted" and "interpreted" productions of Shakespeare and find something good in each of them.

To speak of these different kinds of productions, both in theater and on film: When Baz Lurhman's interpretation of "Romeo and Juliet" (which was marketed with Shakespeare's name), I was completely turned off by it. However, upon seeing it, I quickly adopted it as a favorite. I have also seen a modern-day adaptation of "King Lear" and loved it as well. In the beginning days of studying Shakespeare, I thought those who changed the settings or costumes of the plays should be "burned at the stake." I do still enjoy the traditional performances just as much as the updated ones. However, since I have become a high school English teacher who wants to encourage her students to think for themselves and find their own voices, I am now also a proponent of other interpretations and adaptations. I continually find they make for great discussions (much like this one!) in my classes, especially comparing a traditional version with a modern version. I believe it's all about who you are that affects how you interpret certain things. To me, interpretations and adaptations of Shakespeare's plays are not about changing a classic, they're about working with a timeless theme. Merely the fact that small community theaters such as mine can update Shakespeare's plays to fit a budget speaks to their openness to interpretation. IMHO, traditional versions are also merely interpretations of Shakespeare's words. We do not know how Shakespeare himself interpreted his own words, so how can we say "this is how Shakespeare would have performed this play"? Yes, using period costumes and minimal set such as in Shakespeare's day is part of the traditional idea, but how do we know how each actor said his lines? How do we know what blocking (movement and placement of actors onstage) Shakespeare gave his actors? How do we know what magic Shakespeare might have worked in interpreting his own plays today? Might he have thoroughly enjoyed Lurhman's production, or chastized it? Would he find great joy in watching a Genghis Kahn version of "Macbeth?" We DON'T know, which is why I will always continue to watch and analyze both traditional and modern versions of his plays. "There are no limits to the imagination" is one of my favorite sayings (though I'm not quite sure who said it, and I may be paraphrasing) because to me, it truly addresses the way all literature should be read, interpreted, and adapted. :smileyhappy:




Choisya wrote:
This article also made me wonder about the number of different costumes, weapons, props etc theatres have for their productions and how this must affect their productions over a number of years - assuming that an average repertory company would not be able to afford to replace such items frequently. Perhaps Alfpro could comment on this from his acting experience?

Message Edited by Choisya on 03-24-200709:57 AM

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Re: Various productions and some weapons.



alfprof212 wrote:
Many people, like Everyman, are traditionalists, and insist on keeping strictly to the costumes and settings used in Shakespeare's time. Unfortunately, community theater budgets are quite small, and actors are professionals enjoying a hobby, who have little time to donate for additional tasks. Therefore, many productions become updated out of necessity more than creative license.

In my case, that's not really the case. I am happy with a production that has the simplest of sets (a few joint stools and a platform to substitute for a balcony will do me fine), and no need for elaborate costumes -- a black T-shirt and black jeans will do just fine if that's all the actors can afford, though most theater groups have volunteers who enjoy sewing at least a semblance of period costumes. A strip of tartan flung over the shoulder will do for a Scottish lord, and a crown of cardboard spray painted with gold paint takes just moments of time and a dollar or two to make. These let the audience exercise their imaginations as they do to visualize the stage rampant with prancing horses.

Almost everything I object to actually requires more, not less, effort and cost than putting on "straight" Shakespeare.
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alfprof212
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Re: Various productions and some weapons.



Choisya wrote:
(I had thought you were a bloke from the 'Alf'- sorry:smileyhappy:)








No problem...ALF is my initials. :smileyhappy:

I am, unfortunately, not able to comment on the weapons part of your comment. Hopefully, though, one of our equally worthy commentators will able to shed some light on that subject for you.
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alfprof212
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Re: Various productions and some weapons.

So, Everyman, would it be safe to say that you prefer the BBC productions of Shakespeare (or others similar) over interpretations like the most recent movie of "Midsummer Night's Dream" (with Rupert Everett and Calista Flockhart) and Lurhman's version of "Romeo and Juliet?"
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