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What types of influences does Shakespeare have on all modern day theater?I would like...

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meghanzimmerman | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted October 9, 2008 at 1:09 AM via web

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What types of influences does Shakespeare have on all modern day theater?

I would like to know this because I am very interested in Shakespearian theater and I would like to know what types of plays have continued since his time.

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted October 9, 2008 at 4:27 AM (Answer #1)

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Certainly, Shakespeare had extensive influence on modern theater from the physical aspect to the thematic (social, political) to the development of genres such as comedy/parody. And, character development is one area of great influence.

How many times have critics, for instance, compared a character in a modern play to one from Shakespeare?

For example, in Eugene O'Neill's "The Iceman Cometh," the women characters, Rosa, Parritt's mother, and Hickey's wife, Eva evoke Shakespearean characters. The deficiency of maternal love in "Iceman" reminds the viewer/reader of Hamlet's mother whose selfish desires cause her to be unconcerned with her son.

The ability to charm, distract, and influence men by women is portrayed in both Shakespearean and modern plays. Of course, Lady MacBeth comes to mind. A musical that has a character who parallets Lady MacBeth is Bizet's "Carmen Jones." George Bernard Shaw's plays often examine women's influence on men as in, for example, "Candida' in which Candida and Miss Prosperine Garrett affect men's actions.

Thematic parallels to Shakespeare exist in musicals such as "West Side Story," (Romeo...) and Hollywood's version of "A Comedy of Errors," "Big Business" with Bette Midler.

Finally, Anton Chekhov's play, "Seagulls" is thematically similar to "Hamlet" as Chekhov redefines some of Hamlet's dilemmas.

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