Shakespeare ‘high-tech’ nel “Globe” mediatizzato – Thomas Cartelli – Stratagemmi 24/25
Computer-generated and live-feed projections on both large screens and smaller video monitors have become ubiquitous in theatrical productions around the world, and have even begun to make their presence felt in standard-issue Shakespeare productions. Toneelgroep Amsterdam’s recently concluded Roman Tragedies project, which toured Avignon, London, Montreal, Quebec City, Vienna, and Zurich, among other venues between 2008 and 2010, probably constitutes the most thoroughly mediatized production of Shakespeare on record. Comprising performances of Coriolanus, Julius Caesar, and Antony and Cleopatra re-scripted in Dutch, sur-titled in the languages of their host theaters, and staged in succession over the course of six hours by director Ivo van Hove, the Roman Tragedies reproduce their stage-actions in the form of multiple, variably-sized and spaced screen projections. Literally cutting the plays’ crowd and public street scenes while reducing
scenes of military combat to deafening sonic displays, van Hove largely consigns dramatic content to the level of dialogue and debate of a reduced cast of talking heads, leavened by the occasional violent confrontation, thereby mimicking the way our global media generate the simulacra of war and civil strife rather than faithfully reproduce the bloody thing itself. The historical specificity of Shakespeare is particularly challenged by the increasingly sophisticated technology deployed in such contemporary updating, prompting such questions as: How does the technology-driven thrust into contemporaneity alter or adjust the content of individual plays? Do they – can they occupy overlapping physical or historical spaces at the same time? And, what do these alterations of time and physical space encourage or require of audiences in terms of their range of response? By inviting audiences to share the stage with his actors and their observations with each other, but also encouraging them to channel their experience of the plays through displaced projections, is van Hove encouraging the emancipation of the spectator or modeling and mirroring the contemporary subject’s passive entrancement by visual media?