Condensed Shakespeare

Initially, I thought the condensed Shakespeare show would be a good event to describe through the lens of revolution because of the revolutionary themes in Shakespeares shows; however, after attending the event it is clear the revolutionary aspect of this show lies in the presentation of the shows. The three performers took varying approaches to presenting Shakespearian texts in a comedic way including a cooking show, football game, and other various mockeries. They blended traditional Shakespearean language with modern language in order to add comedic after and make the material easier to understand. For the most part, the company did a good job of converting the traditional text into an easily digestible and funny piece; however, one aspect of the show became quite bothersome to me. The company utilized offensive humor to add to their comedic edge. Offensive humor can often be a good way to connect dated material to modern audiences in an engaging way, but the means by which the performers attempted this felt very cheap. They simply referenced relevant and sensitive topics like the “Me Too” movement as opposed to writing clever jokes. They belittled serious issues like sexual assault for laughs. Offensive humor has a time, place, and limits. Their attempts seemed to be in poor taste. Jokes about sexual violence and racially charged humor are especially sensitive topics on Davidson’s campus for several reasons. Firstly, many students have had experiences with college rape culture, meaning they could easily be triggered by humor like this, but no trigger warning was provided. Secondly, Davidson’s student body was recently shaken by the discovery of two Neonazis within our students body. After this experience, I would expect students to find racially charged humor less humorous. I hope that we can move away from cheap laughs and towards considerate, careful selection of performers in the Duke Family Performance Hall.

Leave a Reply