AfterShakespeare is the fourth part of the Shakespeare Bones Projects, and this time we focus on writing new plays that have come about whilst working the Shakespeare legacy. We pick up where Shakespeare, in a purely physical sense, left off, writing new plays for a modern audience.
Working with Shakespeare's legacy inevitably means a number of his skills and expertise get picked up along the way which come to bear when writing new dramas. Sometimes these are obvious within the play itself but more often than not the influence is more subtle - sense of structure, use of language, a shared outlook, a thirst for originality, deference to what's gone before etc. Interestingly there is also a quest for exploring and creating drama that could never have happened in Shakespeare's time, thereby in some strange way extending the Shakespeare canon.
We started from a base that comes directly from our LivingShakespeare and RelivingShakespeare work. On top of this we also have our experimental Theatre work, especially our NTI Workshops, Stripped Back Theatre, Best of Three initiatives, as well as a number of works coming out of our devising workshops and performances.
The lessons learnt coming out of what is in essence an apprenticeship with Shakespeare are then applied when new drama is created in its own right. This is a process well documented in the model followed by Renaissence artists - all aspiring artists were expected to spend years copying and learning from the Masters. Only after that apprenticeship were they deemed able to create their own works of art.
The first piece of drama that inamoment Theatre company produced that was not directly influenced by the work of Shakespeare was Love Hurts. Since then the work on Shakespeare's legacy has carried on alongside an ever-growing body of new works created by Frank Bramwell.
New Plays in the Style of Shakespeare
2016 was the start of creating totally new plays that are influenced by Shakespeare but which do not directly reference back to the original body of work. To do this we utilise as many of the components of play-writing that Shakespeare used (heightened language, language structure, play format, large and timeless themes etc), but also incorporate style changes that acknowledge (and draw upon) the development of Theatre that has happened in the 400 years since Shakespeare's death.
To summarise our approach, in essence we want to see just how possible it is to make the Shakespeare legacy a truly living legacy. As we embark on this journey, we are under no illusion as to the size of the task that is being addressed; as with all experiments, we reserve the right to fail, and if such a quest does indeed 'fail', then the experiences gained in themselves could make it a qualified success. In that sense, it becomes a 'win-win' project which therefore lends us a greater sense of resolve.
In mapping out the territory we wish to cover, we believe that we will be needing the active help of partners (financially and artistically) if we are to deliver an end product; quite simply we do not have all that is necessary within our own resources. Most likely this will become especially true when it comes to eventually staging the work.
At the moment there are no firm ideas as to what kind of play will be the prototype for this section of our work, and details will be posted once the project finds the resources needed to get the project started.
New Plays NOT in the Style of Shakespeare
Understandably, there are many benefits by working so closely with Shakespeare's process; the skills and experience so gained by this work inevitably feeds back to the writing of new plays where Shakespeare was not the direct inspiration.
The first piece of drama that inamoment Theatre company produced that was not directly influenced by the work of Shakespeare was Love Hurts. Since then the work on Shakespeare's legacy has carried on alongside the writing of an ever-growing body of new works created that are not in the style of Shakespeare. Below is a listing of these plays, all of which have been professionally performed:-
3 Women, 2 Chairs, and 1 MP
The Accidental Lives of Memories
I Love You, Goodbye
One Christmas Eve
The Nativity 2015
Orpheus in Blue
The Other Side
More details of the above can be found at the inamoment website, please click here. By way of example, below are details of one of these plays:-
Union Theatre, 2008
Set in the global economic depression of 1958, this hard-hitting play tackles head-on the disastrous effects of an economic downturn on the Pearson family business; the greed and driving ambitions of individuals, and the avarice and financial power of the banks. It is a play that explores the economic climate of today by looking at the last global economic recession of 1958; trying to see what lessons there are to be learnt and whether, despite being 50 years apart, there are similarities.
A small family business expands, to take advantage of the opportunities afforded by new markets; however not everything goes to plan, and before long the tensions within the family cause a meltdown; brotherly rivalry comes to the surface. Below is a selection of quotes from Reviews and Audience Feedback:-
"Frank Bramwell's beautiful and absorbing play has particular resonance in todays economic climate."
“Set in the southern States during the recession of 1958, this uniquely American small town tale of money, politics, religion, and family life more than lives up to the USA’s grandest traditions of household drama.”
"Touching story of shattered dreams."
“Frank Bramwell's play Shooting Clouds is a sharply observed social drama with a very topical overtone.”
"A poignant and thought provoking play."
“Frank Bramwell’s extraordinary retro piece of work closely resembles one of the autobiographical works of Tennessee Williams . . . it gives every impression of actually being written at that time, although a still topical theme is a financial one, over-lending and over-spending and the wickedness of foreclosing banks.”
"This uniquely American small town tale of money, politics, religion, and family life more than lives up to the USAs grandest traditions of household drama."
"Shooting Clouds is a fine drama, topical in its economic theme, but also affecting in the philosophical issues that are truly resonant for this or any era."