Shakespeare’s Companions

When you think of classic literature, William Shakespeare is always at the top of the list. His works have survived for centuries and are still relevant today. Whether you love him or hate him, it is clear that society does not want you to forget him. People have done it all when it comes to Shakespeare. There have been reenactments, retellings, and translations of his plays, but the American Shakespeare Center is attempting something a little different. They are implementing a twenty-year contest called Shakespeare’s New Contemporaries.

The goal of the contest is to create thirty-eight modern companion pieces to accompany Shakespeare’s plays. Two pieces will be chosen each year and performed with the play they were inspired by. The American Shakespeare Center is not the first to think of this idea though. Tom Stoppard for example is known for writing Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, a spinoff of Hamlet. So even though the idea is not new, the American Shakespeare Center is still attempting something no one has done before. The extensive time frame for this project is enough to set it apart as well as the number of pieces they are searching for. They are also offering winners of the contest $25,000.

The idea behind the project is to create something that appeals to all types of people. I think this is important because Shakespeare is everywhere all the time and people have his work pounded into their head the minute they reach high school. It is clear why some people do not like Shakespeare. However, I think what the American Shakespeare Center is doing could really change that. By creating something that appeals to everyone and is only slightly inspired by Shakespeare could definitely influence some people. It also gives people a chance to be creative. When it comes to learning about Shakespeare, there isn’t much room for creative interpretations. Each play has been read and analyzed by so many people that there is nothing left to discover for yourself.

This project will create thirty-eight new creative takes on Shakespeare and I think that is pretty cool, but what do you think? Is Shakespeare overdone? Do you think this project will be successful?


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