...yet I'll hammer it out
a surfeit of Pumfreys (spelt Pontefracts)
return of the ESOL! 
26 February 2006, 06:41 pm
doth not the crown of england prove the
This is cross-posted, but hey. Since it made Metafilter, I figured it'd be fun to cross-post the long-awaited third part of the Evil Shakespeare Overlord List, newly corrected and augmented. I have incorporated suggestions made on Metafilter, so if anyone has come in from there, thanks! :)

Evil Shakespeare Overlord List, #1-359
Evil Shakespeare Overlord List, #360-426


427. I will not allow any depiction of Richard II's arrested development to cross the line into the grotesque.
428. I will not play Henry of Richmond with a poorly-done Welsh accent.
429. While I am entirely willing to cross-cast roles, I will probably not have actresses play certain roles as women if the production is set in a time when having a woman in that role would not be plausible. For instance, if I am staging Julius Caesar in Elizabethan dress I will not make one of the tribunes in the opening scene a woman and change her name from Flavius to Flavia.
430. If I decide to do this anyway, I will not have the actors continue to refer to the character as Flavius.
431. I will not confuse loudness with emotion.
432. If a character is called upon to play a stringed instrument during the production, I will ensure that it is properly tuned before the show starts, unless it's supposed to be played badly.
433. I will not hang a giant crown over the throne in any of the English histories. No matter how emblematic it is, it looks really stupid.
434. I will not allow actors in crowd scenes to say anachronistic things during vocal responses.
435. I will not pretend that black netted fabric looks like chainmail.
436. Also, I will not put the actors in costumes that are supposed to be medieval for battle scenes if the production up to that point has been done in Elizabethan dress, even if the costumes from a recent production of Henry IV are conveniently lying around. This is especially true if the costumes from said production were bad.
437. If the production has been in modern dress or anything approaching it, I will not have everyone show up for the battle scene in modern dress but put the principals in chainmail. Even if the ESC did it.
438. Although I will not allow the actor playing the soothsayer in Julius Caesar to play the role as a shrieking banshee (cf. #385), I will instruct said actor to convey that "Beware the ides of March" is an ominous line and should not be delivered as though he or she were giving directions to the nearest service station.
439. I will make sure that Caesar's body is covered during Antony's funeral oration, so that when he reveals it at "Look you here, here is himself" it will be dramatic and not give the impression that either he or the crowd hasn't been paying attention.
440. When arranging to have bodies carried offstage I will make sure that the actors involved can handle doing it the way I'd like it to be done. If they can't, I will rethink my blocking so that the actors playing said bodies will not be in any danger of being dropped on their heads.
441. If rethinking my blocking entails fading to black so that said actors can get up, I will actually go to black so that the audience can't see them do so.
442. I will not depict Fluellen as a psychotic hyper-patriot who cracks under pressure and machine-guns the French prisoners when nobody else will follow Henry's order to do so.
443. If I am adapting Shakespeare for radio, I will not assume the audience has no idea whatsoever what is going on, and consequently I will not insert clarifying lines that insult the audience's intelligence. For instance, Sir Piers of Exton is not Emperor Palpatine and should not say "Now, Richard, you must die!" before getting all regicidally stabby, as the sound effects and following dialogue make what's happening perfectly clear anyway.
444. Biron/Berowne is a cynical, snarky, intelligent, playful young man. He cannot be played by a person whose dream role is Richard III, and who uses every role he gets along the way as an opportunity to hone his "spitting, repulsive, evil hunchback" presentation. (salophile)
445. If I am going to simulate a severed head in a bag by filling it with sand, I will not have an actor drop the bag onto the stage, so that the audience can hear the sand rustling around in the bag.
446. I will not make Richard III dance the cancan while saying "Now is the winter of our discontent." (damned_colonial)
447. If I am doing a production on film or television, I will light scenes such that the audience can actually see them, since all the verisimilitude in the world will do me no good if my production is invisible.
448. I will not have Lady Mortimer in 1 Henry IV sing either "Suo-gan" or "Ar hyd y nos" if I can help it. There are other Welsh songs.
449. If there is singing occurring onstage, I will insist that the singer and the accompanist(s) are in the same key.
450. I will not make the apparitions in Macbeth (including Banquo's ghost) invisible. There's no way to avoid the supernatural element in the play, so why not revel in it?
451. I will not dress anyone going into battle in gold lamé.
452. No matter how much of a stickler for accuracy I am otherwise, I will not require any male character to have a pageboy haircut, on the grounds that it's impossible not to look stupid in one.
453. However, I will also not allow actors to have ragingly anachronistic hair. This is particularly true if it is a film or television production, as anachronistic hair is one of the quickest ways there is to make the whole thing look dated.
454. I will not decorate my set with piles of skulls, unless it's the graveyard scene in Hamlet and the script consequently calls for them.
455. I will not stage The Tempest without the epilogue. (karabair)
456. I will not kill off my Macbeth by shooting arrows at him. Especially live arrows. Unless my name is Kurosawa. Which it isn't. (anonymous)
457. As "personal non-bedroom chamber" is a perfectly acceptable early-modern meaning of the word "closet," I will not include a bed in the big scene between Hamlet and Gertrude in the third act of Hamlet. Not that I think it's wrong to do so; I just want to be perverse.
458. I will not interpolate lines in the histories to clarify some of the complex dynastic relationships if I have not checked to make sure that they are accurate. For instance, I will not insert lines into the first scene of Henry V that say that Henry's claim to the French crown comes from Edward III's "marriage to Philippa of France," since his claim actually comes from his mother and not from his wife, who was not, in point of fact, French, and there will invariably be at least one person in the audience who notices the mistake and laughs at my apparent inability to check my facts.
459. If I am directing a radio production, I will not cast actors with similar voices in roles where they talk to each other all the time, if I can help it. This isn't specific to Shakespeare, but it's common sense.
460. I will not put Caliban in bondage gear. Nor will he wear a chastity belt.
461. In fact, I will not put anyone in a chastity belt, unless I'm staging Volpone and the text calls for one (and even then, the intended wearer doesn't actually have to wear it).
462. I will not allow any actor to deliver all of his lines in an ear-piercing screech, no matter how appropriate to the character it is.
463. I will not include Muppet waiters in the production.
464. I will not have any actors simulate childbirth if that is not what is being portrayed onstage.
465. Although 1 Henry VI is somewhat lighter in tone than its sequels, I will not play it as a slapstick comedy.
466. Conversely, I will not make it gratuitously dark. For instance, I will not imply that Talbot allows his soldiers to gang-rape the Countess of Auvergne after foiling her attempt to take him captive, as while it does evoke a sadly too-common war crime, it is grossly out of character for Talbot.
467. I will not depict soliloquies on film by having the actor in question staring angstily at the camera while delivering the speech in voiceover.
468. I will never decide that the back of somebody's head would be an interesting place to direct the attention of the audience, no matter how thinky the character is.
469. I will not open any production by intoning significant lines from the play in question in voiceover.
470. I will not bowdlerize lines.
471. Although I am not adverse to trimming the dialogue in The Mousetrap due to time constraints, I will not omit ALL of the dialogue.
472. I will not make Claudius look like Henry VIII.
473. I will not exploit Ophelia's mad scene for sex appeal.
474. If I decide to dramatize Ophelia's drowning, which I really ought not to do, I will not emulate pre-Raphaelite painting in my mise-en-scene.
475. I will not have singing and dialogue occurring simultaneously, as it is distracting.
476. I will never, ever, allow costumes featuring the shades "hot pink" or "radioactive green" to make it past planning stages. Not even for the faeries. (fivestarlunatic)
477. Especially not for the faeries. (fivestarlunatic)
478. I will not cast anyone as Titania who cannot enunciate their words or project their voice. (fivestarlunatic)
479. I will not allow anyone who is cast as Titania to go on stage raging drunk. This is simply poor taste. And, if she somehow does makes it on stage, I will apologize to the audience afterward. (fivestarlunatic)
480. The Mechanicals are not the main characters. I will not allow for the failed play-within-a-play to stretch over half an hour. (fivestarlunatic)
481. I will never add bad slapstick and fart jokes in order to appeal to the young and supposedly stupid masses. (fivestarlunatic)
482. I will especially not add in random dance numbers involve half naked preteen girls and war drums to any Shakespearean play because it is "artistic." It merely makes me look like a pedophile. (fivestarlunatic)
483. I will not allow any of my actors to go on stage with sharpie-leg hair. Anyone who thinks that using a sharpie to simulate a leg hair is clever will be shot on sight. (fivestarlunatic)
484. I will not allow David Birney anywhere near my production.
485. Richard II's "down court, down king" speech is a highly dramatic moment. Therefore I will not allow the actor playing him to prance ludicrously down an onstage staircase while delivering it.
486. I will be very, very judicious in my application of Christ-imagery. This is especially true if any character in the play makes that comparison himself.
487. I will not assume French dialogue is funny simply by virtue of the fact that it is in French.
488. I will not assume that minor characters have so little personality that their lines can arbitrarily be reassigned among them. Sometimes this is possible, but if I am considering it, I will take this into account.
489. I will also not assume that major characters are easily interchangeable. For instance, I will not replace the Duke of Burgundy in Henry V with the Constable of France of all people, as this makes precisely zero sense.
490. If I am staging Julius Caesar in ancient Roman dress, I will not have Brutus' singing pageboy play Dowland.
491. While it is permissible to cut some of the songs in The Winter's Tale, I will not cut all of them.
492. Although I am perfectly okay with evoking rather than scrupulously reproducing period clothing, I will not pretend that costuming which appears to have been taken from the set of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is in any way appropriate.
493. I will never set a play in period and then have lots of television screens involved in the action. (sonneta)
494. If I must costume Jaques like a beatnik, then I will not force the rest of the characters to be costumed in Renaissance garb. (sonneta)
495. I will never have The Ghost of Hamlet's Father appear out of a Pepsi One machine. (sonneta)
496. I will not assume that since the line "The shadow of your sorrow hath destroyed / The shadow of your face" is thematically and emotionally significant, it is necessary for the audience to hear it three times.
497. I will not install a faucet and drain onstage for the express purpose of enabling Edmund to bathe himself in the nude early on in the play, even if the actor playing Edmund is very attractive and even if turning on the faucet emphasizes the wet aspect of the storm later on. (anatomiste)
498. There are a number of ways to interpret the fact that Lord Scroop was Henry V's bedfellow. It is, however, perhaps possible to explore the subtextual implications without having Henry actually hump his leg WHILE SENTENCING HIM TO DEATH. (commodorified)
499. If I must, however, I will not ALSO have him engaged in extended swooniness over dead bodies at Agincourt. I don't want to still be wondering about Henry's possible necrophilia while he is courting Katherine. (commodorified)
500. I will ensure that the entire cast has a chance to have a good and long laugh about "balls of the burning basilisk" and all the other regrettable testicle puns in Henry V early in rehearsals, so as to ensure there will be no unseemly incitements to sporfling in performance. (commodorified)
501. When staging Taming of the Shrew, I will not have the entire company lean to the left en masse in a painfully obvious allusion to the leaning tower whenever anyone mentions Pisa. (gilded_garb)
502. If I am too embarrassed to make it obvious that I think I can write better than Shakespeare by inserting numerous lines of my own composition, I will ALSO avoid inserting six five-minute processional scenes that demonstrate my mastery of Symbolism. (executrix)
503. While it is actually rather clever and interesting to have Katherine practicing archery during the language-lesson scene in Henry V, I will not have her do it in the throne room.
504. If I am ever casting Macbeth, even if there are no male actors available whose abilities are commensurate with the title role, I will not have Lady Macbeth carry around a sock puppet. (a_t_rain)
505. I will not allow myself to think that playing the witches in Macbeth as masks floating over black material is a good idea. (liseuse)
506. I will not restage Macbeth as if it is in ancient China, but still put Macduff if a kilt. (liseuse)
507. I will not place Lady Macbeth in the world's lowest cut dress and no bra, so that leagues of audience members can be horrified. (liseuse)
508. I will never make Desdemona sing the entire song, three times. (liseuse)
509. While there may be a legitimate artistic vision that includes costuming the Exiled Duke and his men as hippies, and another that includes the Usurping Duke and his court in Star Trek costumes, I will not combine these two conceits, particularly if they also accompany a Forest of Arden made of silver balls hanging from the ceiling. (ricardienne)
510. I will not have Isabella lip-synch "Santa, Baby" while the rest of the cast does a dance routine as an intro to Act IV in an otherwise period production of Measure for Measure. I will make a particular point of not doing this if the production is for a summer festival, and so does not even have the excuse of being seasonally appropriate. (ricardienne)
511. I will not completely cut the lengthy dialogue between Malcolm and Macduff on the subject of Malcolm and Macbeth's relative fitness to be king.
512. I will not use what appears to be watered-down fruit punch to simulate blood, especially if the presence of copious amounts of blood is important to the scene (for instance, during the assassination scene in Julius Caesar).
513. If I set Much Ado About Nothing in the American South immediately post-WWII, I will not dress Don John in a full SS uniform to indicate his having "of late stood out against his brother." (sly_redux)
514. I will not cast the most beautiful actor in my ensemble as Richard III and then never address why this young Adonis of a man thinks he looks malformed. (azdak)
515. If the script calls for a red-hot poker, I will provide a poker-shaped object that is at least slightly red and that is handled by the cast as if it were hot. One out of three is not acceptable. (bookslibretti)
516. I will not turn the witches of Macbeth into crows and make them push swivel chairs around the stage to the sound of helicopters. (dubaiyan)
517. Also, I will not cast five witches instead of three even if it is a drama school production and 'every student deserves a chance'. (dubaiyan)
518. I will not omit Cinna the Poet.
519. I will not attempt to put on Richard II and then cut all the really good bits, including "This England" and "Not all the water in the rough rude sea..."
520. I will never make the audience watch John of Gaunt being sponged off.
521. If I am staging one of the history plays, I will not randomly kill off characters who are not supposed to die, even if the play is being removed entirely from its historical context.
522. I will not add reverb to anybody's voice with the possible exception of supernatural beings, and even then, I will do so judiciously.
523. I will not have characters read from the Sonnets for no reason.
524. I will not pretend that a large white hat which makes its wearer resemble the captain of the Love Boat is an acceptable substitute for a crown.
525. I will not allow a production to make it through the entire rehearsal process without ensuring that both I and everyone else involved know how to pronounce the names of the characters.
526. I will not attempt to adapt a play if I do not understand it.
527. I will not put gratuitous action sequences into Richard II.
528. I will especially not insert a sequence into the last act where the Queen, having inexplicably booted Northumberland off a cliff (!), escapes from custody, sneaks in to visit Richard disguised as a stable-groom, and is then killed during a really tedious action sequence in which Richard fights off his assassins, runs around in the woods, and then is finally gunned down to the relief of the audience. If I take leave of my senses entirely and do this anyway, I will not allow Richard to cop a feel while grieving over her body, even if I can "justify" this by claiming it as an allusion both to the historical Richard's grief for Anne of Bohemia and to his oddly necrophiliac behavior at the ceremony held when he reinterred his deceased favorite Robert de Vere. (...you know what? I'm not sure there's anywhere this list can go from there.)
529. If Desdemona is six feet tall and has a strong and (for a woman) deep voice, the worst person you can cast as Othello is the guy who's only about five feet tall, with a high voice, whose idea of acting "angry" is to emote "Donald Duck having a tantrum." (Incharitable Dog)
530. Even though the play is 5 acts long, I will not overlook the first rule of junior high school drama, speak slowly and clearly. (ilsa)
531. In a period production of Julius Caesar, it's probably not a good idea to encourage all the actors to copy Brando's performance in the 1953 movie. Particularly if they don't have American accents to start with. (Sonny Jim)
532. No role in the Shakespearean canon is best played as an Elvis impersonator. (Sonny Jim)
533. Any Macbeth production really should economize on the following: flying broomsticks; large, bubbling cauldrons; black, pointy hats with crescent moons and stars on them. (Sonny Jim)
534. If soldier characters are portrayed as being part of any recognizable military service, particularly one that any members of my audience might have served in, I will research the uniforms properly. (noahbrand)
535. Malvolio wore yellow STOCKINGS. Not yellow pantyhose. Let's only make him suffer, not the whole theatre. (oytamarind)
536. No matter how well my Malvolio can replicate German and Russian accents, they probably aren't in character. (oytamarind)
537. Neither are stereotypical German phrases like "Ach du liebes bisschen!" (oytamarind)
538. I will not set A Comedy of Errors in a climbing frame which is meant to represent a lunatic asylum and have lookalikes played by the same actor in both parts as if has a split personality. (feelinglistless)
539. With regard to Measure for Measure, it is probably not effective to have Angelo open and close his mouth while he's thinking about what to say. Likewise, it might be best if he didn't bounce slightly on his toes and hold his arms kind of stiffly away from his body. He is neither a codfish nor a marionette. (darthfox)
540. I will not have dead characters pop back into the action later in the play to repeat Significant Lines, (e.g. Mercutio wandering around the final tomb scene saying "a pox on both your houses") as this is not meaningful but confusing. (ricardienne) Corollary: this practice is acceptable for characters who are not-quite-dead, such as Margaret in Richard III and Hermione in The Winter's Tale. (kerrypolka)
541. One should never insert gimmicky interludes between scenes such as people running around dressed in "We are Sheep" t-shirts. That is wank. (arriterre)
542. Place names should never be changed for political and/or patriotic ones such as "Iraq" or "Christchurch" for cheap laughs. (arriterre)
543. "Heavy accent" does not equal "great chracterization"; it in fact usually only equals "coherency out window". (arriterre)
544. Physicality does not take precedence over voice; this is Shakespeare. (arriterre)
545. There will not be some stupid physical gag in the background going on to detract from a "boring" speech, or because the director is afraid that the audience "won't get" the wit that is actually being spoken. (arriterre)
546. The audience does not need visual aids to understand what is being said, such as people becoming a ship or the sea to show the audience what a ship or the sea is, because it's Shakespeare, and they might suddenly lose all their powers of comprehension when faced with a speech more than three lines long. (arriterre)
547. I will not, if I am filming a version of a play, insert random shots of "artsy" things like planes flying in the middle of a dramatic scene. (arriterre)
548. Nor will I portray Hamlet as an angsty young filmmaker, just so I can have him play all these grainy artsy things back to the audience on his handcorder. (arriterre)
549. I will not cast an ugly old sot as Gertrude whose face is falling off. Gertrude is magnetic and beautiful. (arriterre)
550. I will not make it look as though Claudius doesn't care tuppence for his wife. (arriterre)
551. Though Ophelia might not agree with her brother, it is not fit that she should ignore him whenever he is speaking. (arriterre)
552. Ophelia is also allowed to smile more than once during a production. We already have one angstpuppy in the play, whose angstthrone she will never usurp. (arriterre)
553. Do not have Fortinbras enter at the end of Hamlet and machinegun the entire royal court. (Kattullus)
554. Playing heavy metal music to underline character's anger means that you can't hear a word they say. (Kattullus)
555. No rapping. (Kattullus)
556. Do not have a major character played by a small child. Yes, I know they're adorable, but if it's adorable you're after why don't you have Hamlet carry around a puppy. (Kattullus)
557. Do not have Hamlet carry around a puppy. (Kattullus)
558. Kurosawa can make Shakespeare characters into samurais. You can't. (Kattullus)
559. Titus Andronicus is supposed to be bloody, don't try and make it nice. (Kattullus)
560. Titus Andronicus is supposed to be bloody, but don't kill barnyard animals onstage. (Kattullus)
561. Don't try to insert ambiguity where there was none before, there's plenty already in the text. For example, don't have Polonius be naked when Hamlet stabs him. (Kattullus)
562. Hamlet is pretty much angst-ridden enough without making him a proto-Kurt-Cobain, so don't. (Medieval Maven)


Feel free to contribute more! There's no end of bad Shakespeare in the world, and I'd love to get as many of these as possible.
Comments 
26 February 2006, 05:09 pm (UTC)
With regard to Measure for Measure, it is probably not effective to have Angelo open and close his mouth while he's thinking about what to say. Likewise, it might be best if he didn't bounce slightly on his toes and hold his arms kind of stiffly away from his body. He is neither a codfish nor a marionette.
26 February 2006, 05:20 pm (UTC)
I will not have dead characters pop back into the action later in the play to repeat Significant Lines, (e.g. Mercutio wandering around the final tomb scene saying "a pox on both your houses") as this is not meaningful but confusing.
26 February 2006, 06:26 pm (UTC)
Corollary: this practice is acceptable for characters who are not-quite-dead, such as Margaret in Richard III and Hermione in The Winter's Tale.
26 February 2006, 05:27 pm (UTC) - To contribute:
(All taken from a terrible Comedy of Errors I recently saw)

One should never insert gimmicky interludes between scenes such as people running around dressed in "We are Sheep" t-shirts. That is wank.

Place names should never be changed for political and/or patriotic ones such as "Iraq" or "Christchurch" for cheap laughs.

"Heavy accent" does not equal "great chracterization"; it in fact usually only equals "coherency out window".

Physicality does not take precedence over voice; this is Shakespeare.

There will not be some stupid physical gag in the background going on to detract from a "boring" speech, or because the director is afraid that the audience "won't get" the wit that is actually being spoken.

The audience does not need visual aids to understand what is being said, such as people becoming a ship or the sea to show the audience what a ship or the sea is, because it's Shakespeare, and they might suddenly lose all their powers of comprehension when faced with a speech more than three lines long.
26 February 2006, 05:46 pm (UTC)
450. I will not make the apparitions in Macbeth (including Banquo's ghost) invisible. There's no way to avoid the supernatural element in the play, so why not revel in it?

I disagree with this in part, actually. If the fellow playing Macbeth is as fantastic as Michael Hurst, he can make the audience as terrified as though they were sitting next to Banquo in the audience. However, I entirely agree if the reaction and mood can't be properly established. But sometimes imagination and words do more than the visuals can, imo.

472. I will not make Claudius look like Henry VIII.

Bless you for that, my darling. :D

495. I will never have The Ghost of Hamlet's Father appear out of a Pepsi One machine. (sonneta)

Now that that's got me thinking about E. Hawke's Hamlet, here's several in that vein:

I will not, if I am filming a version of a play, insert random shots of "artsy" things like planes flying in the middle of a dramatic scene.

Nor will I portray Hamlet as an angsty young filmmaker, just so I can have him play all these grainy artsy things back to the audience on his handcorder.

I will not cast an ugly old sot as Gertrude whose face is falling off. Gertrude is magnetic and beautiful.

I will not make it look as though Claudius doesn't care tuppence for his wife.

Though Ophelia might not agree with her brother, it is not fit that she should ignore him whenever he is speaking.

Ophelia is also allowed to smile more than once during a production. We already have one angstpuppy in the play, whose angstthrone she will never usurp.
27 February 2006, 04:42 am (UTC)
In Henry IV, Part I I will spend at least five minutes making some attempt to find out what Welsh sounds like, and possibly to find an actual Welsh song. You never know, there might be Welsh people in the audience to be offended at my faux-Chinese nonsense syllables.

I will never cast Prospero as a woman. Nor will I have him deliver the lines about the library and generally act in such a way that the audience will think that Antonio was totally right to depose him.
27 February 2006, 09:11 am (UTC)
The more I think about it, the more I need to add one:

There is no need to insert a scene into 'Measure for Measure' of Juliet angsting alone in prison to the sounds of Damien Rice. Especially with writhing on the ground.
28 February 2006, 05:57 am (UTC)
I shall not have a bare stage made of unfinished wood in order to "communicate bleakness" then dress the actors in shreds of rag and force them to roll around on it while being sprayed with freezing water from a garden hose. No, not even in Lear.

I will not have characters not in the text symbolically turn up later in other scenes, especially not if the character in question is a cold-looking girl in ill-fitting underwear. Really, it's embarassing for everyone involved.

28 February 2006, 03:34 pm (UTC)
Having chortled my butt off (not the one in my avvy, that belongs to the Sacred Bean) I've friended you. Need a big dollop of Shakespeare - my fellow Warwickshireite - back in my life. Friend me back if you like, but my LJ tends to be slashy ramblngs so I understand if you don't want to!
28 February 2006, 04:52 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
Hamlet should never, never, and I do mean NEVER end w/ "A Hard-Knock Life" from the musical "Annie".
3 March 2006, 07:34 am (UTC)
When a royal presence, equal to a deus ex machina and very grand, has an entrance, do not play pseudo-disco music over it. It shouldn't make the audience laugh hysterically in a revenge tragedy.
9 March 2006, 02:53 am (UTC) - I will NEVER
Anonymous
I will never end a production of 'Twelfth Night' with the cast doing the Charleston, singing "I Got Rhythm" - it would be kinder to just shoot them outright.
10 March 2006, 08:57 am (UTC)
There is no need to inject a narrator into A Midsummer Night's Dream. This is especially true if your target audience all attend or teach at a liberal arts college.
29 March 2006, 07:45 pm (UTC)
I will not dress every male character in Macbeth in virtually identical army gear and three piece suits. Especially when this meants that the only characters not dressed in head to toe black and white are Lady MacBeth, Lady MacDuff and the children.
18 June 2006, 09:42 pm (UTC)
OMG. This has both made my laugh hysterically, and cringe at formerly repressed memories. I realize this is a bit belated at this point, but here are a few more:

If a cast member playing a courtier with no lines decides to shave her head between performances, I will kremove her from the play rather than requiring the other cast members to find a suitable wig on very short notice. This will reduce backstage angst.

The drunken porter in Macbeth will never be played in an inconsistant southern accent when the rest of the cast is speaking with a standard accent.

If one of the women auditioning for Macbeth is a far better actor than the rest, I will cast her as Lady M, not the Doctor.

If I am ever called a "controversial" director of Shakespeare, I will do some serious soul searching to determine whether I should bother pretending to pay any attention to the plays I claim to direct.

The fact that Horatio watches a lot of the action in Hamlet does not mean he is manipulating the whole affair. I will not attempt to portray him as an evil mastermind. Additionally, I will not require Horatio to play the piano while Claudius sings "He's Not Heavy He's My Brother", nor will I make him shoot Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Mafia Execution style.

The ghost is not a hallucination brought on by an amazing array of drugs consumed by Hamlet, as well as the rest of the cast.

I shall never require the actor playing Hamlet to drop his trousers and display his naked rear to the audience while raping Ophelia, nor will I expect him to be able to carry his "Alas, poor Yorick" lines while talking to a handful of ashes and a clown nose.

Poor Ophelia is messed up enough without being sexually abused by her father.

If I absolutely must have Ophelia kill herself by strangling herself with tangled audiotape in full view of everyone, I will at least remove the lines in which Gertrude describes her death by drowning.

If for some reason, I decide to include all these travesties into a one act version of Hamlet, I will not lock the audience in as this constitutes a fire hazard, is illegal, and will be noticed by the audience members trying to escape being driven mad.
11 October 2006, 05:53 am (UTC)
Heeh, loving this.

I will not get the actor playing Banquo to do a comic turn between Acts 2 and 3 including off-colour jokes in a Scottish accent.

I will not include a scene in A Midsummer Night's Dream where Helena and Hermia end up kneeling on the stage with their faces on the ground and their backsides in the air.

If I cannot avoid this, I will refrain from having Bottom smack Helena loudly on the rump.

I will not hire Sophie Marceau to play Hippolyta in my big-budget version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and then get my camera to follow her around obsessively so as to get my money's worth.

I will not have Romeo stand with his back to the audience flexing his naked buttocks for a few moments before Juliet awakes.

When costuming A Midsummer Night's Dream, I will avoid clothing the fairies in what looks like ripped cotton sheets. Moreover, I will avoid having them appear to be Siamese twins joined at the buttocks.

If I must put on Macbeth with five actors, I will at least try to let my audience know when (or not) an actor is being The Watchman, Fleance, Lady Macduff, a Witch, or The Third Messenger.
20 October 2006, 11:53 pm (UTC)
Notes for Richard III productions:
* Queen Elizabeth should not act hysterical until after someone dies.
* Lady Anne at the beginning of the "wooing" scene should be grief-stricken, outraged and vengeful- she should not appear to be throwing a tantrum.
* Yes, Richard/Buckingham slashiness is fun, but try to restrain yourself, even if your actors do look hot in tights.
* During the "A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse" line, it is not necessary to repeatedly zoom in on a horse. The audience already knows what a horse is. Really.

Also, if you must have "A Midsummer Night's Dream" take place in 1920's Italy, try not to have a character wearing a suit described as wearing "Athenian robes". No wonder poor Puck got confused.
Please instruct the actor playing Bottom that he's supposed to be a little over the top, not upstaging the entire show.
And bicyles in Shakespeare just does not work. Ever.
16 December 2006, 09:20 pm (UTC)
Anonymous
If I am going to put Antony in a track suit for Lupercal in Julius Caesar, I will make sure it fits him.
If I am going to do As You Like It in a period setting and costumes, I will not have people singing "Yellow Submarine" in place of Elizabethan songs.
I will not set Romeo and Juliet in Maryland during the American Civil War and then cast only one African-American in the production. Nor will I cast her as Juliet's Maid while every other servant role is played by Caucasians. Nor will I have her imitate Hattie McDaniels’ Mammy from Gone with the Wind as the only concession to her slave status.
Similarly, I will not have a multilateral force of Confederate AND Union soldiers keeping the peace!
Capulet can never use a music theater slap on Juliet.
Furthermore, I will make clear to the actor playing Capulet that Capulet's sorrow over the death of Tybalt and his decision to marry Juliet to Paris are connected. His actions might not be sympathetic to the audience, but that doesn't mean Capulet likes to just throw hissy-fits.
I will not cast a pretty, petite freshman girl as Ariel, dress her in only a bikini and body paint, and then have my girlfriend be the production’s stage manager. Whatever issues I have with my significant other, they should not be worked out during rehearsal by proxy.
The Three Witches are not the Nazgul.
If for some reason, lights fail to go down after Banquo is killed in Macbeth, I will not send my murderers back on stage to pretend they didn’t quite finish the job first time around and kill Banquo again.
I will not have the Gravediggers do their scene as if they were hosting Ye Olde Academie Awardes.
If I include flashbacks to Henry IV in Henry V, I will make sure said flashbacks don't turn the subtext into a big heavy stick that I beat the audience with.
31 August 2007, 09:50 pm (UTC)
These are SO funny! (I found you by way of reconditarmonia)

Even though Caliban looks good with dark skin and a brown loincloth, I will not make up Ariel to be a pasty-white bald man in a diaper. There are less distracting ways to draw parallels and contrasts.
31 August 2007, 10:23 pm (UTC)
Oh, and I forgot:

I will not dangle "dead" actors by their toes, frozen in mid-air, especially during a long and important speech. The audience will be completely distracted with concern.

If a character is supposed to play an instrument on stage, I will ensure that he learns to play something more than a continuous repetition of two notes.

I will not blind the audience with an extremely shiny modern guitar under the bright stage lights, especially in a period production.
1 September 2007, 02:54 am (UTC)
Oh, and others I thought of:

I will not buy all the male cast members fine linen shirts from J. Peterman, but then tell a single large-sized female extra that "we ran out of fabric" for her costume, and offer her a hideous anachronistic costume that doesn't match anyone else's simply because I regret having so many extras. I will also not leave it to said female's own discretion to buy her own fabric to finish making a costume so she can look like all the other peasant girls.

I will not give all female cast members the responsibility of hemming their own dresses for a college production. Even if they do know how to sew, they may not have sewing machines in their dorm rooms. I particularly will not do this if uniformity is important.

If a male character must kiss or embrace a female character, I will not let him wear mascara on his face to imitate a beard. It looks bad on him and worse on her.

If inexperienced cast members must learn a tricky dance, I will not shoe the men in heavy boots and leave the ladies barefoot, particularly not in early rehearsals.

If females must be barefoot because of the difficulty of finding appropriate sandals, then monks should not be allowed to wear Birkenstocks.

If females must be barefoot, I will ensure that the stage is not littered with nails from set construction.

I will not make females rush to climb wooden ladders backstage in the dark while barefoot and wearing floor-length dresses.
1 September 2007, 03:14 am (UTC)
And one more:

I will not perform the history plays in chronological order with consistent casting and period costumes, only to suddenly switch to the WWII era for Henry V. The audience loved their period Prince Hal. Why is he suddenly wearing camouflage now?

I will not use football songs to emphasize English patriotism in Henry V.
2 September 2007, 04:54 am (UTC)
Muppets!?!?!!! Pepsi One machine?!?!?!!

446. I will not make Richard III dance the cancan while saying "Now is the winter of our discontent." (damned_colonial)

There are too damn many to quote. This is too funny (and sad) for words!
27 June 2008, 07:28 am (UTC)
-I will not set Hamlet in occupied Paris in 1940, with Claudius as a collaborationist. If I can't resist, I will at least let Ophelia give out flowers during her mad scene, and not replace them with little swastikas.

-Though it's nice that actors want their final consonants to be clear, they shouldn't turn them into whole extra syllables. NOBODY TALKS LIKE THAT.

Your journal is awesome. I mean, geneaology, dead gay kings, poetry AND Jonathan Slinger's medieval mullet? This is a source of great joy. (Well, not the mullet. But the fact that you posted a picture of it, definitely.)
8 February 2009, 03:27 am (UTC) - a little late
Anonymous
I will not cut Horatio's suicide attempt and then have Hamlet, with no motivation whatsoever, randomly pull out a gun and shoot him right after saying, "The rest is silence."

I remember the rest of the production was bad, but the end was so screwy I forget anything else that might go on this list.
23 December 2013, 12:39 am (UTC) - Some more . . .
I will not show Hamlet kissing his mother on the mouth. Especially not for an extended period of time.
Ophelia will not attempt to rip Claudius' clothes off.
Hamlet and his mother will not roll around on a bed. That scene's gross enough as it is.
Ariel will not be shown in nothing but a tan Speedo and gold eyeliner.
Also, the spirits that Prospero calls up will not wear those things either. (And it was only the men that were dressed like that--the women wore dresses).
Richard III will not give his first soliloquy in the bathroom. In fact, no one will be shown in the bathroom.
None of the Players in Hamlet will run around wearing nothing but underwear with a giant heart on it.
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