So we all know that there have been numerous adaptations of Shakespeare's plays .... but how do you think these adaptations add or take away from the original source text 'Othello'?
What signifiance do they have on shaping the literary afterlife of the play?
I am writing a lecture on this very topic and am interested to learn what others feel about the original play and later stage / film versions ...
Adaptations almost always depart from the complete text. It's important to remember this, because adaptations can leave out large chunks of the words Shakespeare (or any past author) actually wrote. To the extent that this happens, adaptations can very often be (or at least encourage) misinterpretations merely in the simple sense that they often take huge liberties with the text. I personally enjoy the Branagh/Fishburne film of Othello very much, but I can never let myself forget that it tosses out a huge number of the lines Shakespeare wrote. On the positive side, any adaptation can lead us to go back to the whole original work, see what has been left out and what has been changed, and thus ideally come to a fuller appreciation of the original text.
One thing that I can posit is that the various Othello adaptations or interpretations (two separate approaches to restaging that produce very different end results) might lend to a muddying of Shakespeare's actual belief--and the prevalent general belief of his era--about racial equality or inequality. Interpretations and adaptations may impose opinions and nuances that Shakespeare did not consider or intend. Another is that the mind's eye may never see Othello purely again. Scenes may be re-envisioned in light of and re-understood through the veil of alterations in the adaptation(s) or interpretation(s).
What I found particularly interesting about watching Stage Beauty was the deliberate transition that was emphasised between performing Shakespeare in a deliberate affected and artificial way and the move towards a more realistic form of acting. In terms of the history of the performance of Shakespeare throughout the different ages, I thought this was a fascinating aspect that I knew nothing about.
I absolutely agree...since re-interpretations began following Shakespeare's death, the collective consciousness of his plays have lived on. But what I am interested in is how these differing interpretations have shaped the way in which the modern audience now views the play.
Just like Milton's 'Paradise Lost' one has viewed certain elements of the bible differently since its publication; surely one could argue that adaptations of Shakespeare add differing viewpoints and therefore alter and detract from the original source.
How does this contribute to this thing called 'Shakespeare' as we are now talking about his legacy, rather than his plays in their original form.
I honestly think that every interpretation adds to our understanding of the work. Every director, and actor, makes his or her mark. The story has been interpreted again and again. I don't think there's anything wrong with that. It's the beauty of the play.