Friday, December 16, 2011

Rewriting Shakespeare

There is this event held in November called NaNoWriMo where writers set out to put down 50,000 words to paper, so to speak. I gave it some thought, but decided that isn’t really how I write. My books tend to be written in spurts—when the creativity is flowing. In sports, they have a phrase called “being in the zone”. It means excelling beyond your normal performance. For me, I tend to write when I’m “in the zone”.

A fellow author of mine noted that if November was national writing month, December should be national editing month. In both The Hidden Sun and The Waxing Moon, the final product is quite a bit different from the original draft. That’s one of the wonderful things about being an author—you get to go back and change things.

As an example, a change was made between the first and second editions of The Hidden Sun where a couple of the district names were altered slightly to be easier to pronounce. This was based on reader feedback. Unlike some of the changes that George Lucas did to the original Star Wars (“Greedo shot first!”) any alterations I made didn’t change any plot points.

There are times, however, when a change needs to be made based on the available resources. While studying at BYU to become a TV director, I had a class where I needed to direct several different types of events. I don’t recall all that I needed to do, but I do remember there was an interview, a musical number and dramatic scene. In each case, I tried to do something a bit more elaborate than the basics.

For the musical number, I was able to direct a music video of the BYU Symphony they used to promote their upcoming world tour. I had exactly one hour to shoot all the different parts of the song using four cameras getting different shots each time the song was played. The amount of prep work that went into that was mind-blowing, but in the end, it turned out very nicely.

And then there was the dramatic scene. Again, to be different, I wanted to shoot a scene out of a Shakespeare play. I picked the scene from Henry IV where the king puts on a disguise and walks among his men the night before a big battle. I had it all planned out in my head: the wardrobe, the set pieces, how to make it look like they were sitting around a fire at night—everything.

There was only one problem. We partnered with the Theatre Department to get actors to play in our scenes. On the night of my shoot, only women signed up—when the script called for three men. What to do, what to do?

That’s when I rewrote Shakespeare . I went through the script and changed things so it was a Queen walking amongst women before the battle. Was it a bit presumptuous on my end? Perhaps. Then again, didn’t they have men play women’s parts in the original Shakespeare plays?

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