Shakespeare’s plays have, in the past, been turned into everything from musicals to films, with Romeo and Juliet becoming West Side Story, and The Tempest morphing into Return to the Forbidden Planet.
But now the plan is to undertake the task of remodelling in systematic and coherent fashion. “We hope to do the entire canon,” claims the publishing director for the series. So what we see is the reamking of a remaking, as though previous efforts had somehow not been good enough. And before that, of course, Shakespeare himself, as the article also observes, was hardly original in his recycling of plots taken from a wide array of sources, which author Jeanette Winterson describes here as an “exuberant ragbag of borrowings.”
Which all goes to show that the process of cultural cannibalization and recreation is both endless and absolutely contemporary. We continue to seek new ways to turn to the past and redo it in what we hope will be our own image. Focusing on this dynamic in the coming year will be a fascinating challenge.