Showing posts with label screenwriting. Show all posts
Showing posts with label screenwriting. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

ShakespeaRetold (Michelle)

From dire illness, I return (gradually) to the land of the living and, hence, the blogosphere. And I return with a film recommendation that made me want to write like mad!

I've been exploring the BBC's 2005 miniseries, Shakespeare Retold. There are four 90 minute adaptations: Much Ado About Nothing (set in a provincial newsroom), The Taming of the Shrew (with Kate as a stroppy politician), A Midsummer Night's Dream (in a faux-rustic resort), and Macbeth (in a gourmet restaraunt).

Usually I avoid modern retellings of Shakespeare that excise the language, not from snobbish impulse but because they're usually just not very good. I do enjoy 10 Things I Hate About You as much as the next teenybopper, but it has to be said that just a tad of the original play's richness is lost, and I'm usually acutely aware the entire time that whatever is being said, Shakespeare said it better.

Not so with these adaptations. Occasionally I do miss the language (when Beatrice says, "I love you so much I can hardly breathe," I do wonder what was wrong with Billy Shakes' "I love you with so much of my heart that none is left to protest!"), but most of the time I'm just slavishly admiring the creativity of the scriptwriters and the skill of the actors.

In A Midsummer Night's Dream, for example, Peter Bowker captures the spirit of the conflict between nature and artifice in the original play with its touristy setting in DreamPark. Sally Wainwright, the scriptwriter of The Taming of the Shrew, makes some brilliant strokes as well, including some clever adaptations of the totally over-the-top, utterly un-PC farce of the original.

And there are so many good performances, too, but some of my favorites are Rufus Sewell's Petruchio, Shirley Henderson's Kate, Imelda Staunton's [Hip]Polly[ta], Dean Lennox Kelly's Puck, and Sarah Parish's Beatrice. If you like British TV, it's a good actor-watch. A good half of the cast have been on Doctor Who at some point or other.

The scripts are frequently eloquent, moving, and hilarious. For example:

"My advice to Titania and Oberon? Leave the forest. It's this place. It gets into your head. I mean, all this's not natural, is it?" (Puck)

"He just didn't want you to mistake him for one of the grown-ups. In reality, he's probably not more than about...six." (Petruchio's friend whose name escapes me.)

"Love is probably one of those things that a man grows into, like...jazz! And olives." (Benedick)

"If Beatrice doesn't watch it, she's going to grow into one of those women whose idea of a big night is a really big bowl of hommus." (Margaret)

"If you don't get it right, I'm going to turn you into a novelty key chain." (Oberon to Puck, of course)

A Misummer Night's Dream, written by Peter Bowker; starring Bill Paterson, Imelda Staunton, and Johnny Vegas

Much Ado About Nothing, written by David Nicholls; starring Sara Parish, Damian Lewis, and Billie Piper

Macbeth, written by Peter Moffat; starring James McAvoy and Keeley Hawes

The Taming of the Shrew, written by Sally Wainwright; starring Rufus Sewell, Shirley Henderson, and Stephen Tompkinson.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

James Moran and Writing for the Screen (Michelle)

I have been very sick this past week and have resembled nothing so much as a particularly large couch cushion (but only in my more energetic moments). Until I am feeling well enough to generate actual thoughts, this will have to serve to sustain the blog:

From the treasure trove at Den of Geek, Here's an interview with James Moran, another screenwriter, on the joys and perils of screen-writing. Moran has written for such sci-fi gems as Torchwood and Primeval, but to be honest, what makes him cooler than most of us is that he wrote the Pompeii episode in Series 4 of Doctor Who.

Be warned: he does occasionally talk about things like how hard it was to get to the screen, which is not what this blog is for. So, if you feel that may depress you, no one will judge you if you do not read the interview.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

David Nicholls, Tess of the d'Urbervilles, and Writing for the Screen (Michelle)

This Sunday, a BBC adapation of Tess of the d'Urbervilles was aired on American public television. I missed it, and in any case, I haven't read Tess --- it's one of those glaring gaps in my literary knowledge, not likely to be rectified any time soon. (Episode 1 is currently available to watch instantly on the website, if you are curious.)

However, if you visit the PBS website here, you'll find a link to an online conversation with the screenwriter, David Nicholls, at He is answering questions about the issues involved in screenwriting (particularly, adapting classics) until January 12. This is something that does interest me intensely, and I'd highly recommend checking it out.

Nicholls (IMDB profile here) also penned an extremely deft modern retelling of Much Ado About Nothing for the Beeb in 2005, as well as the quirky Starter for 10 starring James McAvoy.


to a blog by three people who write, for anyone else who wants to write. It's a cruel world for creators, and here we promise support, whimsy, and curiosity that will hopefully keep your pen moving and keyboard tapping!

To read more about why Daedalus Notes exists, click