Happy Hour with Shakespeare


HK English Speaking Union
  • Mon 24-04-2017 6:30 PM - 3 h

Colette Artbar

Free admission


Happy Hour with Shakespeare: ESU/Fringe present a Shakespeare Birthday Reception followed by short play-readings from the Bard. Two abridged plays from Shakespeare - The Animated Tales: Macbeth and A Midsummer Night's Dream


Shakespeare: The Animated Tales (also known as The Animated Shakespeare) was a series of twelve half-hour animated television adaptations of the plays of William Shakespeare, originally broadcast on BBC 2 between 1992 and 1994. The series was constructed by recording the scripts before any animation had been done. Actors were hired to recite abbreviated versions of the plays adapted by Leon Garfield, who had written a series of prose adaptations of Shakespeare's plays for children in 1985, Shakespeare Stories. According to Garfield, editing the plays down to thirty minutes whilst maintaining original Shakespearean dialogue was not easy; "lines that are selected have to carry the weight of narrative, and that's not always easy. It frequently meant using half a line, and then skipping perhaps twenty lines, and then finding something that would sustain the rhythm but at the same time carry on the story. The most difficult by far were the comedies. In the tragedies, you have a very strong story going straight through, sustained by the protagonist. Fidelity to the original texts was paramount in the minds of the creators as the episodes sought "to educate their audience into an appreciation and love of Shakespeare, out of a conviction of Shakespeare as a cultural artifact available to all, not restricted to a narrowly defined form of performance." Screened in dozens of countries, The Animated Tales is Shakespeare as cultural educational television available to all.


For our play-reading in celebration of Shakespeare's birthday (23 April) we will read two of Garfield's abridged scripts, one comedy - A Midsummer Night's Dream - and one tragedy - Macbeth. The former is about illusion and the transfiguring power of imagination, which provide "a most rare vision" for the major characters of the play, and in the process provide the audience with a much fun and lots of ironic and slapstick humour. The second is probably the darkest of the Bard's plays; its portrayal of witchcraft and predestination, of political intriguing and assassination, and of the ultimate descent into the unrelieved hell of the mind of its protagonists has rarely, if ever, been equalled on the stage. Above all, Macbeth reveals how the corrupting nature of unchecked human ambition can transform itself into unmitigated evil. These are two of the most accessible, best-known and most frequently performed Shakespeare plays. It will be the first time that we have read any Shakespeare plays at our reading group, partly because the Early Modern English texts and the five-act length of the plays prohibit us from attempting Shakespeare in the original. The introductions to each play by the facilitators will be made during the reception-celebration at Colette's in the Fringe Club.  


Facilitators: Mike Ingham and Julian Quail

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