Skip to comments.Shakespeare Theatre’s ‘Much Ado’ Raises Question of Latino Stereotypes [Rice, Eggs, and Beans?]
Posted on 12/20/2011 5:14:20 PM PST by Steelfish
Shakespeare Theatres Much Ado Raises Question of Latino Stereotypes
By Peter Marks December 19
Reversing a decision that had enraged Latino playwrights, directors and others, the Shakespeare Theatre Company has taken the unusual step of restoring in mid-run the original names of two characters that had been changed for its Cuban-set production of Much Ado About Nothing.
As a result, the programs for the show will be altered as of Thursday to include the names Shakespeare had given to the two minor characters, Hugh Oatcake and George Seacoal. For the first few weeks of the run, which began Nov. 25, the characters used names that had been made up by director Ethan McSweeny: Juan Huevos and Jose Frijoles. The names were considered demeaning and even derogatory by Latino theater artists, who wrote of their displeasure to artistic director Michael Kahn.
Kahn said in an interview on Friday that in consultation with McSweeny who is traveling in Peru using the Spanish words for eggs and beans as the characters names had been dropped. (Initially, one of the two characters had been listed on the troupes Web site as Juan Arroz, so that the names were rice and beans. Huevos was later substituted for Arroz.)
Theres no need to offend anybody with that, Kahn said. Im very conscious of what would be offensive. We sort of prided ourselves on not doing anything like that. This was obviously an inadvertent mistake and it certainly has raised my consciousness of what can be a slight.
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
I guess they never saw Merchant of Venice peformed.
I wonder at it.
The ONLY exception would be a redundancy for times sake and only that if it is critical to the play being made and it would be made very clear in the literature that this section was taken out for time consideration but would orient the viewer to a place that would allow them to read or view the play in its entirety.
Even the best directors and writers can not know the mind of the writer (unless it is themselves) and any change changes the play and its interpretation. Period.
This is especially important in plays by renowned playwrights such as Shakespeare. Each piece is a slice of the time in which it was created. Let us enjoy even if it is uncomfortable at times. That is what art is. (Let's hope).
WTF? That's a damn fine breakfast. They ashamed of it?
Are they the two who hung out with Dogberry? I guess I’m confused. Why didn’t they use the original names in the first place?
One of the best. I don’t have much use for “staging” Shakespeare in new times and places. The best I’ve seen were the BBC productions from the 70s made with up and comers like Derek Jacobi, Alan Rickman, and John Cleese and with very small budgets. Jacobi’s Hamlet for example, is pretty much played on a bare stage with a few props and a couple of chairs. There are many who believe it is the best performance of the Prince of Denmark.
A small change in the name of characters could dramatically shift the experience and take away of an audience member that could wholly misinterpret the work because of it than he might otherwise. A name change or change anyway can have a domino effect. It is not a small thing to change pieces of a play.
Hollywood is different. Unless you are an A-list writer/director, you can and should expect for 90% of you work to be altered usually or completely rewritten by another (or 10 other) screenwriters.
Even with A-list writer/directors are the producers often making constant recommendations for changes. (Depends on who and who.) Playwrights (especially contemporary ones--as well as novelists/short story writers) choose those venues so they can have full control of their creative delivery and ideas. (more so than Hollywood anyway.)
Excellent! I will try to see if I can find these. I would love to see them. I was just a young kid back then. They sound fantastic!
Shakespeare was clearly making good-humored fun of the characters in question.
On the other hand, why change them at all?
I don’t remember the name of the movie but Leonardo Dicaprio starred in Romeo and Juliette set in modern day Los Angeles that, I think, works very well.
Most are available on Netflix - some on streaming video. I just finished watching Taming of the Shrew which is so much better than the Taylor Burton version. John Cleese was Petruchio! He was wonderful
I’ll check it out. I watched Richard the III with Ian McKellon cast in the time of World War II. I sort of hated it although as expected McKellon was very good and I watched Patrick Stewart play McBeth set in the 20th century and again, Stewart did a good job but the setting was not good and in both, the problem was that swords were such an important part of the dialogue that it was awkward and especially in Richard the III, how in heaven’s name could McKellon convincingly cry for a horse to rescue him in the middle of an urban setting in the 20th century. It was silly.
I directed a community theater production of Much Ado 20 years ago. One can do racial sterotypes with Dogberry et al without changing the names (I did not do so). The Royal Shakespeare Co.did a production in the 70s set in India in the 19th century in which Dogberry was a sepoy. His malapropisms (spoken with an Indian accent) were hilarious.
I agree that the Jacobi Hamlet from ‘79 on the BBC was superb. Probably my favorite.
I’ve grown to love Shakespeare in my old age. I even laugh at the jokes now. I give a lot of thanks to JK Rawlings and Joseph Pearce.
Thank you so much for this recommendation and specifics. I am so excited to watch. :-D!