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Happy birthday, Billy!

Biographical uncertainty and authorship debate aside, Tuesday, April 23, 2013 marked the 449th anniversary of the birth of William Shakespeare.

For he's a jolly good feellooooooooow, which nobody can deny!

For he’s a jolly good feellooooooooow, which nobody can deny!

To celebrate the birth of the Bard, I watched one of Kenneth Branagh’s lesser-known film adaptations of Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost.  Branagh’s Love’s is a joyful send-up to American musical comedy films of the 1930’s, aptly released in spring of the new millennium, and starring some of our favorite ’90’s teen movie stars. This is one of Branagh’s most effective adaptions, with the setting and style actually working for the text instead of against it. I’m frankly not even sure how such a fun little gem slipped through the cracks of popularity. In any case, if you haven’t seen it, it’s worth a rainy-day viewing.

From Right: Natascha McElhone, Kenneth Branagh, Emily Mortimer, Adrian Lester, Carmen Ejogo, Matthew Lillard, Alicia Silverstone, & Alessandro Nivolo

From Right: Natascha McElhone, Kenneth Branagh, Emily Mortimer, Adrian Lester, Carmen Ejogo, Matthew Lillard, Alicia Silverstone, & Alessandro Nivolo

But I digress. As I watched Love’s, I came to a decision about modern adaptions of Shakespeare: let’s all just relax and stop trying so hard. Everyone involved with that film was clearing having a ball, and therefore so was I. To be fair, it wasn’t the most thought-provoking or action-inspiring thing I’ve ever seen, but let’s be real: neither is the play from which it was adapted. So, let’s have some fun! If you’re a Shakespeare director, maybe infuse the production with some popular artforms. If you’re an actor, focus on enjoying the language and playing with your fellow actors. If you’re an audience member, trust yourself to just ‘get it’, without worrying about translating every word you hear.

In the wise words of Prince (and probably William Shakespeare himself):

“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. I only want you to have some fun.”

Tonight I’m gonna party like it’s 1564. How ’bout you?

– Brooke

PS Wanna buy Shakespeare a belated birthday present? Contribute to our Indiegogo campaign for As You Like It!

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