© 2017 the AfterShakespeare Collaboration

About

Frank Bramwell, writer & director of inamoment theatre company, has been writing new plays that are inspired and draw heavily on the style and works of William Shakespeare for over 15 years:-

 

It’s not been easy trying to get inside the mind of this most incredible genius of words, yet the journey we started over 13 years ago has been exhilarating, to say the least.  Whilst there are many companies throughout the world regularly presenting Shakespeare’s plays in very different ways, the approach we have taken revolves around providing answers to this contention:

 

Taking as a given truth Richard Eyre’s statement that Shakespeare gave us the DNA of our Theatre, how then can it best be passed down the line to:

 

a) give new and sustainable life to his own work (phase1)

b) create new work that is inspired, influenced by, or flows out from the tradition Shakespeare worked in (phase 2)?

 

That is what we set out to do, and since then we have written and performed 5 sequels to Shakespeare's original plays, and 2 plays that take us into the workings of Shakespeare through his plays.

 

We believe our approach of staying faithful to the original works by putting them in a very different setting results in a startling rejuvenation of the text, giving them a whole new life and meaning; reaction from audience members and press give evidence to this.

 

Our After Shakespeare  work, specially written to offer contemporary new insights into Shakespeare's original plays whilst retaining Shakespeare's original words/themes/characters, falls into two distinct catgories:-

 

                           AfterShakespeare: Sequels to the Plays

                             ShakespeareUntold: the Plays Retold             

 

Why?
 

Shakespeare was a genius, fact; and as such people who love and admire his work generally show him an awful lot respect. Sometimes so much respect that they wrongly, in my opinion, believe it sacrilege to 'mess' about with the plays.

 

My viewpoint is rather different. Time, the great healer, is also the great destroyer. It gets to us all, including even Shakespeare. My belief is that over the hundreds of years that have passed, and the many hundreds of years yet to happen, the works themselves are in danger of becoming fossilized. And that would be a dreadful tragedy in itself and would be doing his work, and the people throughout time, a great disservice. 

Step 1: know your Shakespeare
 

My thought back then was how to best get to know Shakespeare. Of course there were plenty of ways of going about it - assiduous study, in-depth critiques of plays, watching as many performances as possible - but in the end I thought it was best just to copy the man's writing. After all isn't that what student artists have done for centuries - srudying at the feet of their chosen master. And so began my apprenticeship to Shakespeare.

 

Ever since then I have been learning about both the man, his work, and all the things that have happened to them both since then. As we are all now finding out, more and more things are being discovered through enacting his plays around the world and the enormous amount of research being carried out. And for each person who puts their mind to Shakespeare, there is a lot to be personally gained from the Odyssey.

Step 2: getting started
 

I can't remember too much about my early attempts at going going down this road; pretty soon I found myself attempting to write in his style, clumsy and derivative but nevertheless a rewarding way of getting started.

 

Above all, it was great fun, like trying to solve a giant crossword with only a few of the clues available. It also took a lot of time to get into the swing of it, like all good things the more practiced you became the easier it was.

 

I was particularly helped in the process by writing my first play Shakespeare's Dream, which consisted of researching Shakespeare's lines for appropriate quotes and then writing new words to fit accordingly.

 

Step 3: writing sequels
 

Soon after Shakespeare's Dream came the first of what are currently 5 sequels, Romeo & Juliet for all Time. The four that followed are Macbeth Killing Time, Tempest fugit:Prospero's Will, Ophelia, Princess of Denmark, and King Lear (alone).

 

Each one follows the same basic approach:-

 

  • take a Shakespeare play

  • select some of the key characters and themes

  • create a situation that flows out of the ending of the Shakespeare play

  • explore the themes and characeters from this new situation

  • use words from the source play

  • write new words that complement the style of Shakespeare's words

Step 4: Shakespeare Untold
 

2015 sees the start of Shakespeare Untold, a new phase of our work whereby the original plays are retold from the perspectives of different characters.

 

This time it's about trying to represent the original plays but in a way that makes it newer and therefore more exciting for the audience:-

 

  • take a Shakespeare play

  • focus on characters that can tell the story from their point of view

  • create a style of drama that moves the story away from the naturalistic and less dependent on the narrative story

  • explore the themes and characeters from this new situation

  • use words from the source play

  • write new words that complement the style of Shakespeare's words