Virtual Exhibit


CASPAdaptation is creative energy unleashed across a full spectrum of artistic possibility: from the most orthodox and conventional, the most slavish to the “original,” through to the most extreme and anarchic undoing in the name of artistic play and freedom.

In Canada, this is particularly evident in relation to Shakespearean adaptation, which dates back to pre-Confederation and continues on in the present in myriad forms. Shakespearean referents have permeated into all aspects of Canadian popular culture and into all manners of theatrical production, from classical theatre through to community, fringe, school, and semi-professional theatre. Shakespearean adaptation is everywhere evident in Canadian mainstream culture, from CBC television comedy, such as the Royal Canadian Air Farce, and Wayne and Shuster, to theatrical productions that invoke Canada’s multicultural realities or references to Shakespeare found in popular music. Low budget, fringe, and local community productions are of significance to the spectrum of adaptation because they stretch boundaries and conventions and experiment to a degree not generally seen in mainstream theatre. Examples of this genre-bending experimental approach to Shakespeare are evidenced in cowboy-themed dinner theatre Shakespeare (Rodeo and Julie-ed), R&B adaptations in Night Clubs (Denmark and Elsinore), and rave-based fringe productions (Romeo/Juliet Remixed).

CASP Video GalleryAdaptations have served as a vehicle to affirm mainstream stereotypical Canadian identity to both national and international audiences, evident in adaptations such as Ken Hudson’s hockey-based Henry V or Rick Moranis’s and Dave Thomas’s “hoser” Hamlet, Strange Brew. Additionally, adaptations in Canada have also served as a means to reclaim or affirm the identity and culture of minorities or oppressed groups, such as French-Canadians, First Nations peoples, and Afro-Canadians. Hamlet, Prince du Québec by Robert Gurik, Death of a Chief by Yvette Nolan, and Djanet Sears’s Harlem Duet are notable examples of Shakespearean adaptations in Canada that explore specific communities within a broader Canadian context.

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