Lord, what fools these mortals be! William Shakespeare said it, through the mouth of one of his beloved characters, Puck. It is a true statement. We become fools for love, and I am a fool in love with Shakespeare’s plays.
I saw another film adaptation last night, A Midsummer’s Night Dream (Michael Hoffman, 1999). Somehow I had never gotten around to seeing this version, and that has nothing to do with the play. I adore comedies.
This version of the classic is set in Victorian Italy just as bicycles were becoming fashionable. The scenery was breathtaking, the opera overwhelming. I don’t personally care for opera, so I wasn’t fond of that element of this movie, but others would probably enjoy it. The play was well-acted and I found it a treat, although I could have done very nicely without the gratuitous mud-wrestling. I think Shakespeare would have loved it.
The operatic interludes got me thinking. I delight in Shakespeare because his plays can be adapted to so many different settings and time periods. The interpretation of each actor adds layers to the parts. This is characteristic of theater in general, and it entrances me. A playwright becomes the first part of a collaborative dialogue that can continue for centuries, as it has for the performance of Shakespeare’s plays. I have been lucky to experience this from the writer’s point of view, and it’s been a magical experience.
I don’t primarily write theatrical works, but I’ve created several short plays and screenplays. One of these was made into a short film. Each time I’ve been involved in the process I’ve handed off my writing and ceded control to the people interpreting my work. Each time I’ve been amazed by how much they add to it. I feel that I understand at least one reason why so many people want to direct—they get a chance to help to create a masterpiece with Shakespeare, or Chekhov, or even with a contemporary writer.
Collaboration also introduces an element of experimentation into any creative process. When you work with someone else you are likely to find yourself exploring new directions you hadn’t considered before. Get ready to forge ahead—your masterpiece may await you.
Your assignment, should you choose to accept it:
122. Do you have a creative assignment coming up? How might you collaborate to make your project even better?