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Adapting Shakespeare

 August 31, 2018 at 10:05 AM PDT

Welcome back to another episode of listener supported PBS cinema Junkie podcast Mbatha Comando. I'm on the road today working in horrible imaginings film festival in its new home at the Frita cinema in Santa Ana. I serve on the selection committee and I'm one of the judges for its awards. So if you're in the neighborhood check out our lineup of films that attempt to push the envelope on how horror is defined. We have a smorgasbord of tasty horror treats. Today I'm going to talk about Shakespeare. I wish everyone could share my passion for the Bard. My parents raised me on Shakespeare. We had a Shakespeare board game and I was seeing Shakespeare plays on stage from the age of 6 on. I distinctly remember my dad sharing his love of Shakespeare with me and to prep me to see Richard the Third on stage at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego. He took me to the theater a few days before our tickets and made me put my year up against the side door to hear the opening lines of the play. Now is the winter of our discontent Made glorious summer by this sun of York in the hopes of encouraging you to seek out some Shakespeare on stage and on screen. I have a handful of interviews from theater and film people about how to adapt Shakespeare for a modern audience. I speak with Director Kathleen Marshall about much ado about nothing. Then with playwright will power about reinventing Richard the Third and finally to Director Casey Wilder Mott and two of his stars about their new and wildly fun screen version of a midsummer night's dream. But first as part of a new feature I'm doing on the podcast a quick review of something new puppet master is a long way from Shakespeare but it's hard to ignore a film franchise that has lasted almost three decades and produced almost a dozen films every year at Comic Con. I have a booth just across the aisle from Full Moon features and it's creepy collection of puppets. The series that launched in 1989 features a contingent of anthropomorphic puppets brought to life by an Egyptian spell. Each puppet has its own unique and deadly device. There have been 10 sequels a non canon crossover and now a reboot called Puppet Master The Littlest rike. I have to confess that after seeing the first film decades ago I've only caught glimpses of the numerous sequels and I never felt hooked enough to follow the series all the way through. But I do love the puppets. When I have quite a bit of personality put what drew my attention to this reboot were the people involved. Charles Band who came up with the original idea of the puppet master films as producer. As Craig Zahler the brilliant director behind Bone Tomahawk and brawl in cellblock ninety nine is the writer and gifted composer Fabio Fritzi delivers the score. How the hell did this low budget mostly straight to video franchise score people as talented as Zahler and Fritzi that demanded attention. So I refresh my memory by going back and watching the first film and then diving into the littlest rike that reboots the original story in the present day. Here's the deliciously fun trailer. WARNING. This motion picture is one of the most violent films ever made. There are 21 scenes of profit violence and sadistic cruelty graphic showing the content of subject matter maybe absurd for those under 18 those with reports. And those from. This cellar workshop is where Andre to all manufactured puppets. It is unclear how many of these puppets were made though 60 or so of them are expected to be Postville I off the auction. That's not mine. I don't really know how that guy. Maybe a walk. You do listen to me here. Why would anybody create a Nazi puppet for a little fast and Frank was hiding in Iraq before. He even in the trailer you can hear Zollars would come through and some of the lines and then his inventive Gore lets his nasty sense of fun shine. The film does a lot of smart things. First hiring a real screenwriter is key and then letting them craft a no nonsense. Let's get to the killings fast and make them crazy is satisfying. Then have some fun like casting the eccentric Goudeau Akira's as the creator of the littlest Reiche and bringing back Barbara Crampton who is in the very first puppet master and making her a cop who does tours recounting the original case and her pivotal role in it. The film understands what it is. It's a freaking killer puppet movie and it totally delivers on that Fritzi score elevates the film with some surprisingly poetic music at times. But then Zahler script gleefully descends to the depths of Grindhouse Gore to deliver some memorable kills and comedy that's meant to push people's buttons. The title The Littlest Reich reflects the fact that Zahler has the puppets go on a hate crime killing spree of targeting Jews blacks and LGBT characters he plays the formula to the max. But then also takes moments to step back and deliver caustic commentary on it. Puppet Master The Littlest Reich makes no pretense about what it is and in its honest dedication to delivering a grindhouse gore fest of puppets on a rampage its bloody fun. Don't ask don't. Okay now back to Shakespeare. Kathleen Marshall directs the production of Much Ado About Nothing. Now on stage at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego it runs through September 16th. She reimagines the play on the Italian Riviera of the 1930s. It's Shakespear through the lens of Noel Coward. Her interpretation connects the dots between the Bard's famous battling lovers of Benedict and Beatrice and every romantic couple that's ever sparred through a screwball comedy of the 30s and 40s. It's a sparkling adaptation and we began by discussing her choice of settings for the play. You know much ado is really such a perfect play in so many ways and it's fun to sort of figure out a setting for it. So what I was drawn to is that it's you know the men the soldiers have just come back from a campaign or from a war and they're sort of having a sort of respite from the outside world at Leonardo's house in a state and they decide to stay a month so mend my mind. I thought well where would sort of pretty privileged people like to go on holiday for a month and Shakespeare said it in Masina which is in Sicily. But I sort of chose the Italian Riviera kind of in the early 1930s so sort of Noel Coward Cole Porter sort of feeling of of of people people at leisure and Dean seemed Benedict and Beatrice as kind of the four runners of all the kind of screwball comedies that came up in the 30s and 40s. Oh absolutely. I mean there there's sort of a relationship these people who sort of are combative and kind of fall into a romantic relationship. They're the the ancestors of of all of those classic battling couples whether it's Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice or Hepburn and Tracy or Astaire and Rogers or When Harry Met Sally or How I Met Your Mother you know they're all I think they're all descendants of Beatrice and Benedick. Shakespeare is very malleable I mean you can move him around from setting to setting from time period the time period and kind of make these tweaks and it always seems to like fit and flow and what does that say about him as a writer and about his place. What was amazing is for a play that was written you know 400 years ago how the human behaviour is still very recognisable. What happens when you feel betrayed. What happens when you fall in love what happens when you are tricked into believing something. And so I think that he so had his finger on the pulse of human behaviour and I think that's still very recognisable in terms of how people behave in situations now mostly what people remember from this is Benedict and Beatrice and this kind of sparkling dialogue but there's some darkness in this play too with Claudio and hero. How do you balance that sparkling wit and kind of the darker elements. Well you know it is a kind of rollercoaster ride. This play it sort of starts in sunshine and goes into sort of cloudiness and comes back into sunshine again by the end. But it's very dark. I mean what happens you know how Claudio is tricked into believing that hero has betrayed him and then he jilts her at the altar basically and they have this elaborate ploy to to say that she has died in order to sort of see if if remorse can lead to sort of a reconciliation. And it really has a lot to sort of navigate. And what we've talked about with the company with our wonderful actors is just sort of go on that wild rollercoaster ride and allow those kinds of big surprises and big emotional jolts to happen and not try to smooth them over. But to sort of go along for the ride indirecting is what was it that it kind of meant to you what were the kind of themes and aspects of their relationship between Benedict and Beatrice that she really wanted to play up. Well I think really at the heart of this play's about sort of deception and sometimes people are are deceived for playful purposes. Sometimes they receive for malicious purposes and it's also about self-deception. And I think it's about Beatrice and Benedick sort of being able to release and give in to their their feelings and their joy and their happiness. That was Kathleen Marshall who's directing much ado about nothing at the Old Globe Theater. If you can't make it to the Globe before September 16th then I highly recommend Kenneth Branagh as lively screen version that succeeds brilliantly with its lead roles but falters a bit with the supporting cast of Keanu Reeves and Michael Keaton Joss Sweden's stripped down modern take on the play offers a top to bottom delightful cast doing the Bard more as a Woody Allen black and white romantic comedy. Now for a more radical reimagining of Shakespeare from Playwright Will Power. He looks to Shakespeare's Richard the Third merely as inspiration for power all plays begin with the language for his new play sees the king. It was the heartbeat of William Shakespeare's I am big pentameter that drove his creation. He gives us a modern take on the tyrannical Richard the Third done in a kind of hip hop interpretation of the bard's verse. The play is having its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse and it runs through September 16th. We began by discussing how he first got introduced to Shakespeare through high school. I had a teacher Mrs Chandler who introduced us to Shakespeare and I thought it was cool but I didn't really get into it till I got older. And also in college I studied theatre and they rammed down our throats and Shakespeare and the Greeks and SCUSA but I don't know if we were too young. I just don't feel like I don't know. For me personally getting more experience going getting a richer history in my life has made me to really appreciate and understand the levels that exist in some of those classic texts. So high school but really when I was older really start to like appreciate it. So what inspired you to tackle Richard the Third at this point. I think these times that we're in now I think that sometimes I'm always I've always been a playwright that really kind of goes to big questions and what I mean by that is I've never been one to do like the kitchen sink drama you know. You know like two couples you know wrestling and liberals are fighting over some cappuccino like the upper middle class. I'm like what of the big questions. You know the big questions. So I think that yeah I think the times we're in right now the polarization the the dysfunction the corruption that exists in society right now in our country. I think that some sometimes to explore what's going on today particularly in an extreme times you have to go back to the past and then reimagine what those ancient old stories are for today and figure out how can I write original works that kind of speak to the past within shine light on today. So I think it was I think it was just what's going on today. You know I wouldn't say that Richard the Third in my play is necessarily any one person of today. It's not that kind of thing. But I think I'm interested in these human virtues and also these human faults that continue to pop up in our existence as humans no matter if it's what the gender is what their ethnicity is you know I mean they pop up in different ways. And what do you think it was about Richards character that particularly hooked to you. Well initially it was just the tyrant aspect like the the manipulation the greed the juiciness of that and the willingness of his character as a protagonist to let us in on it. You know let me kind of let it slide like you know come with me and so you hate you hate him but you also like to just enjoy the ride. I mean and so and sometimes with Peter as all our stuff like good art it allows you to kind of peek into a world and empathize and understand some things about your surroundings about yourself in a way that maybe straight off debate might not. You know what I mean. So that was the initial thing. What we've done with this is it's it's it's taking some really different terms like one thing we've tried to do without giving too much away is that like OK the rise to power the lust for power. Right. But then what is the toll that that takes on a human spirit. And I don't think if I'm not mistaken I think Shakespeare got into that too much. I mean it was the toll on the community but not on Richard. I mean he was just like going going gone. So this is really like you also see kind of the toll it takes when it comes time for Richard to address the the prince in the tower is not necessarily easy thing is. The role of the National Guard. It's best practice ritual as much Fullagar as a funeral to an old man or a way to get. His coronation his kids will be my. Old Gaffer cable. And. You'll know what. He decides. No. Well he designs and sketches. Emboldened by his quiet Prince and Kiley's involved the tailor uses insects at the start of creation and in my mind's come the deed is done. What is called To Kill A. And I think for me that's scarier when you show a tyrant with aspects of humanity as well. You know I think it's easy to be like this is this tyrant is this dictator this is this genocide. And he was 100 percent bad evil and he was dead. But were those moments when he was actually you see the humanity and that makes it even scarier maybe more close because that means that any of us theoretically could turn that way. But when you take a character and you make them just so evil like and that's all there is we're like oh no know know OK the rent they need to go but we don't get that. Q empathizing character you know that we can connect with. Not not not champion not Tiran but connect with. So I want to think about that. What is the what is the passion the lust and the thrust for power but also what is the toll that that takes on somebody. And then how do these figures continue to reemerge in different areas and that's the premise and the premise is also like how do they reemerge and then you know hopefully the good in us will also reemerge too if not killing at least kind of hold it off so it doesn't overtake us. Yeah I mean the other thing that's been really fascinating is that you know I've always been an explorer of form different kinds of form. I spent a lot of my early years kind of innovating a new form of theater and a new kind of like you know text within theatrical context which is hip hop theater and then I got into like how do you embody traditional forms of theater. I did that for like 10 or 12 years and that was good. This has been really fascinating because like it's the first time that I've reached back to an older structural form and then created in that way so it's in the eye and as in ionic pentameter you know but it's it's kind of contemporary language bumping up against the classic forms. So that's been all that's been really fun. Now but you have to distinguish a difference there is between the trees and the like. What do you mean and I don't see. Any. Of that. Yes. OK. The fact is for you to get what you want we need to make the case you understand what I'm saying. It's a way of speaking playing plain common enough. By doing this can understand a little bit more how the way to do that you know. Because when you're in a when you're in a form so much then you just kind of start thinking that me is like rap you know if you're a rapper you just start thinking in that or that specific meter. So if you're improvising you understand so it's like their whole life was in that one meter. So when people come to this they're not going to be getting Shakespeare's verse but they're gonna be getting kind of your reinterpretation. Yeah. There's absolutely no Shakespeare text in it but it's almost like here's here's what I. This is what I thought about. This is going to sound kind of loopy but you know when we think of Richard the Third or Hamlet we think of Shakespeare. However at that time those were stories that were just in the canon and many playwrights did their own version of it just like the Greeks you know. So my view is like what if I was living back then you know brother chilling Elizabethan times. And this was my version of Richard the Third. So it's it's definitely inspired by Shakespeare because when we think of but it's not really Shakespeare's words or his piece It's more like what is the context what is that. One of those plotlines. What does that story. And then how do we tell it for our time and what do you think it is about Shakespearean plays or 400 years old people still kind of turn to them and they seem to be like very elastic like very malleable that you can go to them and like pull elements out and they play well like however you want to kind of mash them up. I mean you know he was the guy he's the greatest. I mean there's two things that I'm drawn to for me first and foremost is the rhythm is the rhythm of the text not even just because the story lines are like they're okay they're not like the most complex story lines but it's what he does with those the way he breaks open a moment in and kind of like takes a moment like gets deeper with it. The Greeks did that well and also some hip hop artists do that well though tech talk about one moment to take a whole song to go poetically into one moment that I think today the most modern version of that are hip hop artists really I can't think of anyone else that's really doing it I mean not they're not artists but as far as the poetry of the rhythm. So it's the rhythm that really draws me if he says something you know there are three two three four five six meanings in that line. And then if you took away all of Shakespeare's words it's like oh oh like whatever he's saying the words in the sounds of the word make makes over the time. It's like a love for the sounds go along with that. And so as a theatre artist and as a hip hop artist and as a poet you know I can relate to that. So that's the way I try to approach it. But I think it's the rhythm. First and foremost to me it's like the undercurrents the undercurrent the self-conscious the visceral way that the words flow and then I also think that part of what made him great is beyond him I think he he was he lived at a time of great change. It was at a time when the old was going out and the new was coming in but the old was still there. You know so the printing press was just made available for like the average person before that if you were an average person or even a middle class whatever you couldn't. You can read a book. So that was coming and they were rediscovering these Greek texts the new world know wasn't new but for them it was news and they were discovering oh my god is a whole new world going on English as a language was coming into its own you know. So you had this real kind of coming together of all of these forces. And what do you hope audiences will take away from this production. You know a lot of things one of the main things I would say is I want us to have some real frank conversations about who we are as a nation and who we want to be. Who do we want to be and who we want to be as a nation also who we want to be as individuals is that living up to what we're doing in practice. Everyone has asked that I have to ask that everyone has to ask that you know all my actions and living up to my ideals and what I want to do. And I don't know if we'll ever get there. But we can definitely maybe do better. And so I want to try to provoke conversation. You know I want to provoke conversation. I want people to think about characters like Richard the Third and other people in here like Buckingham in the fifth five who are in here and think about like you know do these do these archetypes exist today as we're illustrating and if they do what does that mean you know. Yeah. All I want to think about that I want them to think a real hard look at and really think about you know where we are today can things really reoccur. I mean there some crazy things that happened in the 20th century in the 19th century you know slavery in this country the concentration camps you know in Europe you know genocide. I mean crazy stuff. I'm not saying we're there yet but I think I want people to think about like can we. Are we going in that direction is that the direction we want to go. I'll leave it at that. That was Playwright Will Power his sees the King runs through September 16th that La Jolla Playhouse if you can't make the show. I have the perfect screen adaptation of Richard the Third for you. It's star Sir Ian McKellen and gives us Richard as a kind of 1930s Warner Brother gangster clawing his way to the top screen adaptations of Shakespeare. Don't get any better than this to this list of outstanding cinematic Shakespeares you can now add Casey Wilder Mott's absolutely delightful. A Midsummer Night's Dream. The film moves the play to the present day where Athans looks remarkably like Hollywood and Hermia is a movie star. Her dad is the head of a studio. Helena is a screenwriter and the mechanics are all film students at a EFY. That's the Athens Film Institute. Has filled the stage. All the men and women near their players before the film institutes is. Nature so-called struts and frets an hour upon our stage. The Athens Film Institute is learning what. It is. I spoke with Fran Kranz served as coproducer and stars as bottom and with Rachel Leigh Cook who plays Hermia. We spoke outside of the Cannes cinema before a screening of the film. I asked Fran Kranz if serving a star and producer meant he had a special drive to see this film get made. Yeah it does doesn't it. Yeah. No I I would never have thought of it that way. Of producer job. But yeah I hear Casey and I are old friends. We went to college together and we were kind of drinking buddies and school and I had no idea. I knew he had an interest in Shakespeare in the theater but I had no idea that he had this kind of thing in him specifically this sort of creative or original take on Shakespeare. So he sent me this screenplay a few years ago and I was kind of blown away by it. Medially got in touch with in L.A. We went out to lunch together and he asked me for help making the movie. And I basically sort of went to my phonebook to kind of look for actors cinematographers editors anyone I knew that could help us make a movie and never set out to become a producer. Just was enthusiastic about the movie and wanted to get it made and I guess when it came time to assign assigning credit you know all of a sudden I felt like I deserved it just because of my enthusiasm and kind of love for the project and specifically what Casey did with this great script. Now let me ask do you remember what your first exposure was to Shakespeare when you first kind of was introduced to it or first got a passion for it. I know the the the kind of turning point a real pivotal moment was high school doing. I did Merchant of Venice in high school which I know is pretty typical It happens all over the all over the place. But it was one of those kind of regulatory moments where I really felt like. It wasn't just something I had fun doing theater or acting. It was something I believed I could do for the rest of my life has felt like something fulfilling enough and deep enough and challenging enough and provocative enough that it seemed like something that I I got the bug basically doing Shakespeare you know and specifically that play. And Rachel do you also have a bug for Shakespeare. I think. No it won't be anyone. It was a surprise anyone to me say that I definitely felt like the outsider on this little bit. No Rachel did such an amazing job because we the the lovers in particular really have the brunt I'd say of the Shakespeare in this is specifically in this film because I think the mechanical characters get a lot of liberties too. There's a lot of ad libbing and more colloquial kind of modernization of the language and the fairies. There's a musicality and a playfulness to that that that world specifically Sahlin me actually singing a little bit. So there there's a departure I guess from sort of what we think of as classical text whereas the lovers are really stuck in it. Hamish and Lily are really seasoned Shakespeare actors they've done Shakespeare in the park in New York. Finn is another real seasoned theatre theatre actor so I totally understand where Rachel having her fear of being put into this position. But you watch it and it's so seamless. The four of them are so good together with such great chemistry. Now. You. See. You have conjoined all three to fashion this fall support and fight me. I'm amazed that your passionate words I scorn you. Have you not set. Lysander. Eyes in scorn to follow me and praise my eyes and face that made your other love Dimitri who even now Naho Deats. Journey with his. Heart. To call me. Goddess. Nymph. Divine and rare. Precious. Louis Tellem. I love thee for my life. I do. Helen I say I love you more than he can do no Soussa withdrew. Prove it to Hong Kong. Excellent plan Fandor with. All of those things left for all Schicchi from Black a shepherd. From. The corner out loaded medicine Boston. They really have the kind of the hardest job when it comes to Shakespeare. And with capitalis you know and sort of it is intimidating. And we took a lot of liberties with some of the other aspects of the film because it was nice to have different textures between fairies mechanicals and the lovers you know and to sort of treat them differently. Performance wise you know so so it's really cool to sort of watch all that and how they kind of gel together is really neat. You play bhatta so explain kind of how the character's been changed and updated for this particular version. Yeah I think your thing and one thing in particular. You know it's funny people because well I don't want to spoil anything but bottom famously gets turned into an ass. And you've seen it it's usually on the cover of you know a high school edition of Midsummer Night's Dream and that's a guy with a donkey head you know and being sort of fed grapes by fairies you know and that's bad he gets turned into an ass and it's always portrayed as a donkey. Casey pointed out the word donkey is not mentioned in Midsummer Night's Dream. It's just bottom morass and so. Casey set out to make this modern version modern adaptation and it's modern day L.A. and or Athens's which is takes the place of Hollywood it's sort of there's a lot of sort of surrogate Hollywood sort of references and you know when I was reading the script I was surprised by the choice that he made in terms of trends. The bottom transformation but the reality is if we were to turn bottom into a donkey it would have been incongruous with sort of the spirit of the adaptation as it as it was already established you know. So I thought there was really no other way no other way to go with the transformation. I don't want to say it specifically I'm pretty at this point it's sort of hard not to know what I'm talking about. But but I think it's really fun. But it is really fun. I think it works out. It's a sort of silly practical but there was a lot of sort of serious discussion about how anatomically correct it had to be or could be . It's also an independent movie and we started making this thing about two weeks before we started shooting. So we are we are sort of at the mercy of just what we could pull off from budget budgetary standpoint. You know and to in a time time crunch in and also forgetting the whole bottom bit I always think Pyramus is sort of weirdly one of the more intimidating roles in Shakespeare because it has to be funny. You know it's a very short scene and yet it sort of has to deliver it's kind of the climax of this play and in some ways. So I find bottom to be. The character itself very fun but very very challenging. You know it's it's it's sort of it's it's it's got this this great tag at the end of it. That is a lot of fun and you get to be really silly with it. But there's a real sort of onus to deliver you know with this character so I found it to be sort of intimidating. I hope people think it turned out well. I actually wasn't trying to lead you to a spoiler I actually want you. You are not a character. I was talking more about the fact that he's more of an independent filmmaker or part of an independent filmmaking group. Well I thought that was brilliant. How Casey defined the caste system of the play versus how he sees and perceives Hollywood you know in the business he'll tell you more about that. But I I I was I grew up in Los Angeles and what I loved so much about this. Screenplay his adaptation. Excuse me is that it not only changed the way I see the play but changed the way that I see Los Angeles you know in my home. The Mechanicals specifically are. Film students. There are five film students or Athens Film Institute instead of you know American Film Institute. I thought it was kind of. Brilliant to know that Theseus the king is a sort of Hollywood executive. The lovers are a sort of combination of star actors or writers and agents or what is what does Lysander photographer artist Casey makes his point. I'll tell you again I'm sure Hollywood has a wonderful way of being vertical and horizontal way and that a lot of cities a lot of businesses are. There's just a sort of vertical axis you sort of climb the ladder of success whereas Hollywood you have these writers and there's a level of successes of the writers the level of success and crew level of success and actors and executives and agents and that Hollywood is sort of as tall as it is wide. You know it's one of the few businesses that is that way and that that really sort of I think enchanted Casey and it was and sort of that's where he was able to sort of find the connection with this play and that the play really covers so many sort of different types of people and society you know with the lovers and the Kingdom and then the mechanicals outside. So it's kind of this wonderful fit. And like I said. I think it's a great adaptation because it changed not just the way you look at the play so often plays are just forced into context but the context in which he was put into it it's actually sort of changed the way I look at that. So I think it sort of transcended that way that it works on both those levels you know and for you what was it like shooting. Because. Because in the play once you move into the forest there's this really kind of magical transformation that kind of takes place for you what was it like shooting in the forest versus shooting kind of the scenes that were in the Hollywood Athans. Man our forest was the woods of Topanga Canyon and it was December Nancy. Oh my gosh. I'm from Minneapolis so I should not be saying that I was cold. I will never be allowed back there. But I was freezing. We're all freezing. We're laying on the stone cold ground with no cell phone reception I'm not sure which is worse. And meant it was a tough shoot for the early eight days we were there and say it was a good portion of it. But in terms of how it was different from being in town it felt very. It was part of the chute felt very kind of renegade. We were a very small crew with a very large lighting package. It looked utterly unbelievable I can't stress to everyone who is even considering seeing this film how beautiful it is and how much you don't have to even be a fan of Shakespeare to love it but especially those sections in the woods are worth it. From a visual perspective. You could see us from miles away. You know these giant red orbs floating in the sky he added. And you see in the film there's this aesthetic in the woods that's a sort of red color and Casey has a sort of color scheme that he think sort of tells tells a story within a story and I don't want to spoil it for him. He can talk to you about his sort of idea of color and it's use in the film. It's beautiful it's really kind of just a luscious look you know and it's sort of different take It's what you'd sort of expect necessarily and I think it's really neat. I don't know it was really really hard. Knight shoots are hard anyway. Cold night shoots are harder and doing Shakespeare at night and the cold in the woods there was sort of delirious kind of quality to the ends of the set which you know is hard and the circumstances are hard conditions. But I think it adds a sort of wonderful quality to the film and the performances that it gets a little weird out there you know and that's kind of where you know that you go to the woods and sort of weird things happen and magic happens. And so I thought it was kind of nice is as much as it was sort of hard to deal with at the time it sort of you know kind of art imitating life imitating art sort of experience you know. So it is kind of nice to rough it a little bit you know it's a really beautiful film really proud of it and I hope everyone enjoys it. There seems to be a number of films like this one and Baz Luhrmann is Romeo and Juliet and Joss Wheaton's much ado about nothing that are really reinventing Shakespeare for a modern audience and for film. And. How do you feel about that is that something that's exciting to you as an actor. I think it's I think it's really exciting it's funny to me growing up that Shakespeare was always being reinvented and I mean look it's been produced for over 400 years or about 400 years whatever and at the time he was the popular art form you know he would have been your I don't know your sort of Jerry Bruckheimer is that it's a sort of a dated comment as I don't know he was he was sort of he was like a big budget film maker or big TV he was he was he was a popular artform and was for the masses and it was a lot of his stuff was irreverent and he was already Shakespeare himself was taking old stories and messing them up you know a lot of his stories are not completely original. There's sort of old themes are that or sort of old sort of con context in which she sort of put in his own sort of spin on them you know and so we've always been kind of reinventing these stories and I think I believe he would be completely enthuse and inspired by the way artists today take and produce his work. And another thing that's wonderful about Shakespeare is that you usually when you hear someone's doing it often the question is you know what play and how are you doing it. You know and I don't think of another artist or writer or that's that's a question. And yet with Shakespeare we sort of accept at face value or that that the play will be changed and adapted in some form and that's how that's how we make it. You know it's sort of symbiotic with Shakespeare. I think that's a wonderful thing. So I I hope that it will continue to be sort of dissected and reinvented for many more centuries to come. That was Fran Kranz along with fellow performer Rachel Leigh Cook talking about a Midsummer Night's Dream. Now we hear from director Casey Wilder Mott. I began by asking him if he remembered his first encounter with Shakespeare. I absolutely remember my first encounter with Shakespeare. I was living in Northern California. I was about 8 8 or 9 years old thereabouts and I was I lived in this kind of wooded fantastical you know mystical mythical region of northern California the Redwood Coast which is coastal but sequoia trees and you know lots of like kooky hippies live up there. And not surprisingly I was really into anything fantasy fantasy literature and role playing games and of course fantasy films. And you know it was hard to get. This was like you know the 80s and it was remote so it wasn't an Amazon or Netflix or anything but I came across this movie Excalibur and I was like obsessed with it it was a John Boorman film it's like quite well-known and beloved in the sort of you know fantasy film world subculture. And I must have watched it like 15 or 20 times and one day I was at the video store which was also the general store which was also the post office which was also the gas station in our little town and they had you know just like kind of metal a metal rack with like 15 rotating 15 titles and I saw this film that had like kind of a handsome brooding young guy and he was holding a sword and there was a castle in the background and a woman wearing kind of medieval looking outfit and I thought oh wow that's another movie like Excalibur you know so I asked my mom to rent it and we took it home and I popped it in the VHS player. And like immediately I knew I was watching something unusual because it was Hamlet. It was Franco Zeffirelli's Hamlet and it had you know it was the production design that you know from a single image you know was able to draw me in and piqued my interest given what my existing interests were at that you know young time in my life but it was the language and the story that that you know really ended up kind of blowing me away and fascinating me and I was by no means any sort of prodigy or anything. It wasn't like I could say I understood what was happening on screen or what they were talking about or even what the story was. But I do remember like potently being really like hooked and being really fascinated and I just I got at that time I got like really into Shakespeare you know and I started asking my mom about it and you know so I started reading the plays when I was pretty young and because my introduction to it was through a film that was my entry point I think I've always had. I mean I love I love Shakespeare on stage and I of course I have great admiration for that as kind of you know the great tradition that that is and that's obviously you know where it was originated was as a stage work. But because my entry point was through a film and because I'm a filmmaker and I've worked in Hollywood for a long time I've always had this affection for Shakespeare as as filmmaking as well. And you know I'm kind of ravenous in my appetite for that. And yes I think it all goes back to you know thinking I was going to get to another Merlin story basically. Now you've modernized it and updated it and set it in Hollywood our reserves are never. Ever to walk on walls that consorting with ceremony. There's three new warning for the death of learning it's an old device. So talk a little bit about your choice of putting it in Hollywood and kind of what you get from that and how that fits into the play in your vision of it. Well there were a couple of different considerations there. One was that was frankly just as like a practical aspect as a lot of productions that go down to Georgia or go to Canada or whatever. But at a certain level it really just makes sense to stay where the crew and where the actors are. You know you aren't really saving any money because whatever you get back in tax credits you know. So part of it was just a practical produce Auriol consideration. I wanted to shoot a film in L.A. another part of it was that you know there is in Hollywood there is this really interesting cast system right where there's like there's not just a vertical axis and the vertical axis is kind of clear and it's like how rich and famous and powerful are you. You know are you Jeffrey Katzenberg are you Martin Scorsese or are you like the girl who just got off the bus from Topeka and she's like go into her first audition. But then there's this horizontal axis right which is like all about commerce on one extreme end of it. You know and then all about artistry on the other extreme end of it. And you know people everywhere on that axis in between. And I think it's really interesting that somehow all of these people are able to work together and you know make really great products you know that are both commercial products and are also artistic products. So that's sort of upstairs downstairs and left right aspect of living in L.A. and working in Hollywood was something I thought fit well into the characters and themes and plots and subplots of Midsummer Night's Dream. So when I started mapping it out you know and kind of breaking it down scene for scene beat for beat character for character and finding ways to make that hand fit into that glove. It was surprisingly consistent. You know the conceit worked really strong really well and that to me felt like Fran talked about this last night in the Q8. Q and A. Like a lot of adaptations are just sort of flashy it's like hey let's do Romeo and Juliet at the rodeo. Won't that be fun. You know and those those can be fun you know and they can it can also be really good or even great. But I think like really successful adaptations should say something about the source material and the conceit that they're wrapping around it that is novel you know and that is valuable. So like I love Justin Kurzel Macbeth right. I thought it was a masterful piece of filmmaking but I didn't think it was an inspired piece of adaptation at all. You know. Whereas like the Ray finds Coriolanus is also a masterful piece of filmmaking but it's also like is like a really interesting adaptation. You know what he did with that with the source material what he said about it I think was original. And the third thing that sort of felt you know right about setting the story in L.A. is I you know I'm not a native Angeleno you know I moved there when I was 23 and like a lot of people who move there not being from there not really having connections or relationships there and just starting at the very bottom of the Hollywood pier pyramid. It was a tough transition and I actually left for a couple of years and kind of came back and you know I didn't enjoy living in L.A. by any means. And I said all I badmouths L.A. and all the ways that people do oh the people are fake and you're just in the car all the time and it's just sprawl and concrete and freeways and blah blah blah blah blah. And like when I came back I start I made a concerted effort to take advantage of all the natural splendor that is in and around L.A. and it totally transformed my relationship with the city. And there are amazing mountains and forests and beaches and rivers and all kinds of things if not in L.A. I mean a lot of them are actually in LA. Like within the city limits but if not that there like right outside you know. And I think it's a shame that more people don't live in L.A. don't take advantage of that because it's not hard to get to. You know I mean I know we all work really hard and you know the weekends are precious and you know maybe we don't want to get in the car and drive an hour to go somewhere when we spend the whole week in the car to begin with. But you know I wanted to find a way to showcase and highlight some of the natural beauty of Los Angeles that I think is often overlooked in midsummer night's dream felt like a good vehicle for doing it because one of the key themes of the play is how nature is this transformative environment. You know nature is a place that you can go to and be reborn as a new or different person. As a filmmaker you have some tools at your disposal that people performing Shakespeare onstage don't have and a lot of times. I think what's good in a successful adaptation is that a filmmaker will use certain things at their disposal to help make it more accessible to people. And you have a lot of fun with this because you you have like quotes pop up on magazines or on coffee cups and you know I think seeing dialogue or seeing some of Shakespeare's text in like a graphic form reinforces it when people are watching it. So did you consciously go about like trying to find ways to make it a little more accessible to a modern audience to people who maybe weren't as familiar with Shakespeare as you were. Yeah I absolutely did. I mean I wanted it I wanted it to feel contemporary. You know I mean for me it was part of making the adaptation succeed you know it wasn't just about relocating the place to Los Angeles we were also relocating the time you know we were making it contemporary you know like early 21st century and given that technologically mediated communication is such a vital and omnipresent part of modern life. It felt inevitable that some of that was going to have to work its way into the screenplay and I didn't want it to feel clever or flashy or anything I wanted it to feel totally integrated and organic because that is I mean look how we're talking right now. I mean this is a technologically mediated conversation between you and me and listeners and you know it's so pervasive that we kind of take it for granted. You know it's like wallpaper at this point. So you know and I wanted to find the you know the places in the script where that wouldn't feel shoehorned. And in terms of like you know really leaning into the strengths of screenwriting as opposed to stage writing. You know I started my career my career if that's the right word to use but as a young guy the first thing I first relationship I had was Shakespear a serious relationship was that it was as a stage actor you know I was a stage actor through my teens and into my early 20s did a lot of Shakespeare you know took a stab at playwriting and I directed a couple of plays is all high school college stuff you know when I was young but enough to kind of like have you know just a basic foundational grounding in the medium and then you know for the last you know 10 15 years have been working in Hollywood and got really familiar with you know the film format. And I I realize that there are things that each does well and poorly differently you know and in order to take what was originally as a you know a piece of stage writing and adapted to film writing. You have to be kind of conscientious and thoughtful about that. And I mean I kind of know that intuitively you know I think I know that in my bones and that's an easy thing to say. But the real like aha moment for me was you know I knew I wanted to write this screenplay and in preparation for writing it and I'd done a lot of script development with like great writers and directors like Steve Gagin and Ed Zwick and Bruce Cohen and like I learned a ton from like you know kind of studying under those guys. But you know this kind of just personal exercise that I did when I took the ray finds Coriolanus that John Logan adapted and the Boz Luhrmann Romeo and Juliet that Craig Pierce wrote and Joss Sweden's much ado that he wrote and directed. And I looked at the I looked at the screen. I got a hold of the screenplays and I looked to the plays and I did like side by side side by side like a real close you know read of all three of those and I was really struck by how many liberties those guys were willing to take with the original material and that kind of that made me feel more confident in being able to go out and do that. And along this same time I found this podcast that John Logan did with Bafta and he talks about writing that Coriolanus adaptation and how he had to go through three or four draft. He was a playwright. I think he's like a Pulitzer Prize winning or drama. He's a very accomplished playwright who is a playwright before he was a screenwriter. So obviously he's you know very indebted to Shakespeare and he talks in this interview about feeling like I didn't know how to go about doing this. I'd never adapted Shakespeare before it sort of felt like this is my idol. You know he was very like you know excited to be working with Ray finds and he thought Ray had a really good take on the material but he was so sort of you know almost in awe of Shakespeare that it took him three or four drafts before he realized if I'm going to make this an adaptation and say like you know screenplay by John Logan I've got to do something with it. You know I've got a really kind of like get a little bit more muscular in my choices and he is someone as a screenwriter I've always really looked up to I think he's you know really brilliant and you know has led a pretty interesting career. So that was something I took away like OK like Don't. Don't be timid about slicing and dicing and reordering and eliminating characters and inventing characters and combining characters reassigning dialogue from one character to another one scene to another because it was all in service of making it an effective screenplay. But for me my personal money and I first met for three months well get as I told you I'm going to buy Warner for tragedy comedy history will come from. Some. Well. And what I liked about it is you've updated you've changed it but there is still a lot of the text is in tact and you really respect the poetry of the play and one of the things that I really enjoyed was when Helena reads a poem or is presented as reading a poem at like a coffee shop. Things bass and violin. Holding no quantity. Love can transpose to form. And dignity. Love looks not with the eyes with the mind and therefore. Its wings. Cupitt painted blind. Nor have loves mind of any judgment taste. Wings and no I. Think here in Haiti. And therefore. Love is said to be a child. Because in choice. He has so often beguiled. As waggish boys in-game themselves or swear. So the boy love. Is. Her Jared everywhere. And it kind of refocuses you on the text and reminds you how much of Shakespeare is really this kind of poetry. But by putting in that context it's like you alert the listener to like hey listen to this a little differently. Yeah that's a great observation because you know in fact in the play that whole speech and it's been the whole thing has been significantly shortened. That's one of the things that's that's a distinction between film and theater writing isn't theater you can kind of get away with big showy monologues and you really are not able to film you know people just get bored right away. So like a lot of those have been you know cut down to one or two or three lines at the most. But that one was one I left. It has been truncated. But I left it largely intact but in the play it's a soliloquy. You know it's an aside. She's on stage by herself and she's just thinking out loud basically. And you know I wanted to use that as an opportunity to cast it as more of you know I think we're very much like a spectator driven culture you know and you know you have to you can't just kind of like you can't just have those quiet moments to yourself anymore. You know if you're going to do something like that it has to sort of be in front of an audience you know. So that felt like like a way to kind of a you know a slot a sly little way to contemporaries the character a little bit also just the fact that she was reimagined as a writer you know and Helena. I tried to I tried to be thoughtful about who are these characters and who would be in contemporary Hollywood and her me as the starlet like you know woe is me. Everyone's in love with me oh my gosh you know Lysander sort of a sweetie but he's got an edge too you know he's like kind of like the sweetheart artist. You know Demetrius is like he's like you know the cigar chomping Hosler you know who drives a sports car and. And Helena is I think she's the smartest. I think she's the most intelligent of the four characters and she's often played as this kind of like wimpy whiny you know loser basically. And I think that's a shame because she's I think she's a real sort of precursor to Rosalynde which was Shakespeare's greatest female care. I think it his greatest female characters certainly one of them. I knew when we got Lily Rabe on board I knew that she was going to be able to really put strength into that character that was how I envisioned it. Yeah and she's you know so she's a writer she's like she's she's really smart but she's like like not really quite self accepting and if you know and of course she's got this unfortunate backstory with Demetrius that she can't quite figure out you know why he fell out of love with her and started loving her best friend. And you know I think that those are those are all sort of situations that writers will be very familiar with and you do invent a nice way to kind of explain Demetrius because it is problematic. If you find Helena to be kind of the smartest one which I totally agree with then her kind of following Demetrius around like a puppy dog even though he claims to be in love with Hermia is kind of troublesome and you kind of go like Why does she keep doing that. She's like the smartest character here and you've come up with kind of a clever way. I don't know if you want to if it's a spoiler but you kind of. And it's a kind of a cinematic way of dealing with it too. Yeah. Thank you. I am flattered by that because I did want that in particular but also a lot of the film again I wanted to lean into the strengths of cinema. You know I wanted there to be a lot of nonverbal storytelling and scenes without any dialogue and musical montage is in flashbacks and flash forwards and the the genesis of that whole that specific one was was I agree. You know I think that there's this kind of nagging loose end at the end of Midsummer Night's Dream where Demetrius is just you know he's kind of he's drugged and it's not it's not as satisfying as the conclusion to some of his other high comedies you know Twelfth Night and much ado and as you like it where there are these kind of like you know these just explosive bountiful perfect you know everyone ends up you know all you got Jacqui who's still kind of is like a bit of a you know misanthrope at the end of as you like it. But aside from that but Midsummer Night's Dream falls significantly short of that standard. You know in a couple of different ways and the Demetrius Helena one is one of them. So I wanted to without you know being sacrilege about it. I wanted to you know kind of fix that see if I could find a way to address it and again without having you know heard what John Logan had to say about his experience of death and Coriolanus I'm not sure I would have had the wherewithal to do that I might have been like well that's too that's going too far. You know that's a little bit inserting my agenda a little bit too much into the source material but I think overall it works. You know it works in the context of this story. And you're right it makes Helena's character make a lot more sense you know because you know if you're going to sort of if you're going to play her as a stronger character which is the way I think she should be played it does create this problem of like why is she so pathetic following this guy around who clearly is not interested in her. You know but in this adaptation the answer to that is like well she knows that something's not right. Like she gets it you know the guys they were they were happily you know perfectly genuinely in love with each other at one point and then it just sort of abruptly fell apart and she was never really able to figure it out. And there's a tenacity that she has terms of like trying to get to the bottom of that that I think makes her one of the sort of heroes of this of this version of the story. And on a more granular level as well. I mean I went through this goes to the point of like slicing and dicing and reordering the dialogue in the scene sequence or whatever I tried to make her walk that line a little bit more clearly where she's sort of like I love him but I don't know about this but he's not being very nice to me. And you know he's like just little snippets of things that she'll say or she'll have second thoughts that that you know I just you know I felt like liberally kind of would take those and put them somewhere else to really emphasize the fact that she's not she's not quite as pathetic as she comes across in the play and certainly not as she comes across in a lot of adaptations where she's this sort of more one dimensional character. Another thing you do is you kind of have these Shakespear Easter eggs sprinkled throughout and some are very subtle and some are kind of very much in your face to be not to be. I want you to talk a little bit about some of them. I mean you have some very fun ones like playing off of to be or not to be. Talk a little bit about what you were doing with that and yeah the herpes behind it. Well I think the purpose was threefold one was to kind of communicate the sense to which you know so much about the modern world is indebted to Shakespeare and there are so many aphorisms that are attributed to him that people don't even know are Shakespeare you know brevity is the soul of wit. You know uneasy lies the head that wears a crown. Some are born great some have greatness thrust upon them etc. like and I think a lot of people have heard those but they don't know that they're Shakespeare and there's there's an accumulation effect when you sort of see how many of those were originally him that that's a way to say like sometimes draw a new person into the material who wouldn't otherwise be interested you know. So that was one level of it another level of it was trying to keep the experience of watching the movie for someone who knows the characters knows the story is kind of like you know OK well what else can you show me. Keep it engaging for them throughout because you know I know from having you know experience that as a viewer like you know Shakespeare in Love or certainly Baus Armin's Romeo and Juliet that you know those guys do this like kind of peppering of fact and it keeps you you know it turns it into like you know you said like an Easter egg hunt you know. So it kind of keeps you grounded in the story and it's fun you know. And it is meant to be you know kind of a winking inside joke you know you get the joke. I get the joke isn't this fun but I also like the kind of third guest goal with doing that was I didn't. I really really wanted it to not feel snobby and not feel like you know like this is a club and if you don't get this like you're not in the club and like you know you need to go and do your reading or whatever I wanted to distance myself from those associations that Shakespeare often has you know eat your vegetables kind of thing which was why you know the to be or not to be and out damn spot I mean some of them are reinvented recontextualized in ways that are like through and through dopey. You know and are really just meant to not not make fun of of the underlying material but poke fun at it you know in an irreverent and loving way. The you know the the meaning of that being like don't worry if you're if you're not following along with all this stuff or if you know if a lot of these other ones have kind of like past your radar on unseen because like you know everyone knows to be or not to be you know. And I've actually I've got to say like I was a little nervous about Out damn spot because I was like is that is that a little too esoteric. Is that something that not a lot of people are going to get. And I have like I have not been to a screening yet where that moment doesn't get a huge laugh you know. And I'm always like satisfied by that I'm like Oh great. You know that's like that's that's that's a line that people recognize you know and when it's sort of when it's reformatted this way like you know people get a laugh out of it. And it seemed like to I'm not that familiar with the text of Midsummer Night's Dream but it seemed like you were pulling lines from other plays that played into the kind of Hollywood theme and the artists theme. And it just it just kind of made me think about the themes that Shakespeare repeatedly returns to that pop up in a lot of his plays. But it seemed it seemed fun that you could find lines like from other plays that still worked in this context and kind of rounded out certain things. Yeah well again I mean Shakespeare was fascinated by theater as a metaphor for life you know and theater is representational storytelling which is what filmmaking is. So it seemed like he obviously he was writing hundreds of years before film was invented. But I think a lot of his observations about the relationship between theater and life are just as applicable to filmmaking in life. So some of that was surprisingly easy to do you know because I just as as being indebted to you know the guy who provided all the source material and then some of it. Yeah I was really trying to lean into the conceit and make that conceit really work. It was interesting because I got to a point where I actually decided OK I don't want to I don't want to go any further into the sea because what I didn't want it to do was become a sort of a Hollywood movie. A movie about life in Hollywood. I wanted that to be the entry point you know and sort of a glossy conceit that people could kind of like you know get into the story through. But that was I got to a point where I was like All right I've I've I've created this world and crafted this conceit thoroughly enough that I don't need to lean any further into it. But early on you know there are so many. Some of them are really quick and really subtle like Theseus office the you know the Variety says verily and you know star crossed lovers 500 million below a palpable hit a hit you know. And I want it you know hopefully someday someone will go through the film and kind of do like you know pause and pause and start and pause and start and try and find all of them you know because I don't even know how many there are. I mean there it's certainly in the dozens of maybe over 50 you know because there's like there are moments like that where I could I could kind of put three or four in on like one shot. You know the movie posters you know the Hermia movie posters. You know the silence of the Lambs becoming the rest is silence and Pulp Fiction becoming an improbable fiction. You know they were they were like you know there were and that again that was trying to read the source material to the conceit in a way that was told visually and convinced people that we were in this world. And one of the very direct kind of connections you make is you have the mechanics instead of being these players who you know perform out in the forest. You have them as these independent filmmakers are these student filmmakers say the script treats on then read the names of the actors marrying our show. It's the most lamentable comedy and most cruel death of Pyramus and. Now that Peter Quinn's call forth your actor's answers I call you Nick Bottom ready name what part I am for and proceed. Q Nick Bottom our set down for Paramount. What is Pyramus a lover a tyrant a lover that kills himself most gallant fellow. I will ask for some tears and the true performing of it. If I do it let the audience not to their eyes. I will restore. I will kindle some action. Okay. Francis flues. Yet my chief humor is for a tyrant. The regime rocks and shivering shocks cell breaks the locks of prison gates and civis cells. The foolish face. Is. Here. To. Cleanse. You must take this beyond you. What is this. Be wondering the lady that Pyramus must love to speak in monstrous little voice. Is Knape Disney Pervis. We. Know you must play Pyramus and flute youth is B. Proceed snogged. Now you must play Herremans father. And now snog you the Lions play have you lines Perritt and you should be given me for his study. Let me play that too. I will draw that I will do any man's heart. Good to hear. I will add that I will say that again and. Again. Just again at felt like the right way to recast that group of characters in the context of modern day Hollywood. When you're a working professional in Hollywood which I am and granted on like you know a relatively low end of the spectrum you know I'm still just like I'm still just like a guy who has to like work for my meals like anyone else. But you tend to forget like how many people are in L.A. and other places but they certainly tend to gather in LA who are who are on the other side of that wall. You know how many people are like dreaming about being able to do what you do. You know which is like make a living doing what you love make a living as an actor or as a filmmaker or as a screenwriter or as a critic or whatever you know because you know a big majority of people are not able to do that you know in a lot of them end up going into other fields or going back home where they came from and you know there's nothing wrong with that. I mean it's a competitive field but I try you know at least once every day to remind myself wow I'm really like fortunate to be able to do what I'm doing right now. I think that it's great that the town and the industry is big enough to encompass all of those people and the mechanicals you know they're like they're totally lovable. You know I I have a really soft spot for the mechanicals. I always have and like every version of the play that I've seen. And I think when the sort of like the ineptitude of them is taken too far. It sort of is a disservice to the play into the characters. I mean clearly they're amateurs clearly they're inept but they're also meant to be the people at the end of the day that you end up rooting for you and you really want them in their own way and on their own terms to succeed you know which is of course like in every in every version of this I've ever seen is exactly what ends up happening you know in some way. You know they don't exactly like you know win the Oscar. But but they find they find a measure of success that they can be satisfied with and that at the end of the day is what it's all about. You know I mean I'm not I'm not getting ready I'm not you know dusting off my boxer Oscar tocks for this film you know. But at the same time like I'm very proud of it you know and I'm really happy with the you know having gotten to this end of the experience and I don't know there's like a part of a mechanical and all of us you know even Steven Spielberg and you know like Jeff Katzenberg and I there's a little mechanical and everyone you know. So I wanted to construct those characters in such a way that that you know hopefully it reminded us all of that. And what do you think it says about Shakespeare as a writer that you can kind of play with him in so many different ways I mean as we've seen these various adaptations where you can throw them into different timeframes and you know you can make them in all sorts of different ways. What do you think it says about him that he's kind of so adaptable and malleable. I think it says that you know he was a really brilliant person you know and he was he was able to create characters and tell stories that were timeless you know that sink in with timeless themes timeless dilemmas timeless questions that human beings face. Harold Bloom who is a very famous Shakespeare scholar. He wrote a book called The Invention of the human in which he basically you know argues that you know Shakespeare was the first modernist and beyond just being the first modernist he was pretty much the person who invented the idea of human beings as we as we embody and understand it today. You know that his writing. And he's he's he's like I think he's a little bit too far out on the spectrum in terms of his beliefs but I think there's something I think there's something defensible about what he thinks and you know it's not for nothing that like these plays these stories have been almost endlessly you know reimagined and reinterpreted in different places different timeframes different media different media you know I mean you know Shakespeare's plays have become movies they've become books. I'm sure there's a podcast that's likes you know that I'm sure they've become you know like someone probably does five second Vine versions of Shakespeare you know what's the five second Vine of Hamlet look like you know and I mean fridge magnet poetry you know I mean it's kind of like it's so it's so endlessly pervasive in our culture today. You know in part because it has become a self-fulfilling phenomenon but also in part because there's a depth of you know observation brilliant observation about the human condition in so many of his plays that I wouldn't go so far as to say it's unmatched by anyone else but it's pretty close. You know I mean I do think he was sort of more than a great artist. I think he was almost like like a spike like what's the word I'm looking for like a not a messiah but like it's like a sage or a saint or like someone who you know like tap tapped into things on another level that sort of elevated him above what he was he was a playwright right. But he he he could have been doing anything you know and he would have created something that was just sort of extraordinary. That was Director Casey Wilder Mott his film version of a midsummer night's dream is currently in theaters and look forward on Blu ray and streaming soon. I'll let puck bring this podcast to an end. If we chateaus have offended. Think that this and all this money that you have put slandered your while these visions that appear this week in Iowa seem no more yielding but a tree. Thanks for listening to another episode of cinema junkie. Listen for it every other Friday. And if you enjoy it please make sure to share it with a friend till our next film fix I'm Beth Accomando, your resident cinema junkie.

William Shakespeare's plays are more than four centuries old yet they can still captivate an audience and deliver themes that resonate. On today's podcast, I speak with theater and film artists about how to bring the Bard to life for modern audiences. Plus a review at the top of "Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich."

William Shakespeare's plays are more than four centuries old, yet they can still captivate an audience and deliver themes that resonate. On today's podcast, I speak with theater and film artists about how to bring the Bard to life for modern audiences.

This podcast is dedicated to Shakespeare. I wish everyone could share my passion for the Bard. My parents raised me on Shakespeare. We had a Shakespeare board game. I was seeing Shakespeare plays on stage from the age of 6 on.

I distinctly remember my dad sharing his love of Shakespeare with me and to prep me to see "Richard III" on stage at the Old Globe Theater in San Diego, he took me to the theater a few days before we were to see the production and made me put my ear up to the side door to hear the opening lines of the play, "Now is the winter of our discontent made glorious summer by this son of York."

I have been in love ever since.

In the hopes of encouraging you to seek out some Shakespeare on the stage and screen, I have a handful of interviews from theater and film people about how to adapt Shakespeare for a modern audience. I speak with director Kathleen Marshall about "Much Ado About Nothing," then with playwright Will Power about reinventing "Richard III" as "Seize the King," and finally to director Casey Wilder Mott and two of his stars about their new and wildly fun screen version of "A Midsummer Night’s Dream."

Marshall directs the production of "Much Ado About Nothing" now on stage at the Old Globe Theatre through Sept. 16. She reimagines the play in the Italian Rivieria of the 1930s. It’s Shakespeare through the lens of Noel Coward. Her interpretation connects the dots between the Bard’s famous battling lovers of Benedick and Beatrice and every romantic couple that sparred through a screwball comedy of the 1930s and '40s. It’s a sparkling adaptation.

For Power, all plays begin with language. For his new play "Seize the King" it was the heartbeat of William Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter that drove his creation. He gives us a modern take on the tyrannical Richard III done in a kind of hip-hop interpretation of the Bard’s verse. The play is having its world premiere at the La Jolla Playhouse and it runs through Sept. 16.

To the list of outstanding cinematic Shakespeare's you can now add Casey Wilder Mott’s absolutely delightful "A Midsummer Night’s Dream." The film moves the play to the present day where Athens looks remarkably like Hollywood and Hermia is a movie star, her dad is head of a studio, Helena is a screenwriter. and the mechanics are all film students at AFI … that’s the Athens Film Institute.

In addition, catch the new feature on my podcast of a quick review at the head of the episode. This time I check out "Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich," which boasts the talents of S. Craig Zahler ("Bone Tomahawk," "Brawl in Cell Block 99") as screenwriter and Fabio Frizzi ("The Beyond," "City of the Living Dead") as composer.