Friday, August 27, 2010

Pitch The Sequel

Wow, the ideas are just flying fast and furious tonight.
Mark made me think of this one on the “Who Would You Be?” post when he mentions Miranda and Ferdinand getting back to Milan and breaking up once Miranda gets to see just how many people this brave new world really does have in it.
You’re in an elevator with a big time movie producer.  You’ve talked his ear off about what plays you think deserve a movie treatment, but he’s not interested. He wants something original. He ponders aloud whether the market would be there for a Shakespeare sequel.  Without missing a beat you pitch him …. what?
Tell us the play, and give us a concise summary of the sequel.
This has been done before.  I’m pretty sure I remember somebody did a play Fortinbras about the new ruler of Denmark who is now haunted by all the ghosts from the previous play.  (I’m not really counting the movie Hamlet 2.)  Somebody’s also got a book project in the works, not sure if there’s a movie, that follows up Macbeth and ties in the storyline of how Fleance (you know, Banquo’s son? who escaped?) returns to become king.


Mark said...

Setting aside the fact that I'd never work with a director who didn't want to do Shakespeare ...

I'd love to know what happens after "King Lear." I saw this ridiculous movie once called "King Ralph," in which the entire British royal family dies in an accident, and the British nobles have to pore over family trees in the desparate hopes of finding a living relative. Eventually they stumble upon John Goodman, who's a second-rate Vegas musician. And the next day, King of England.

Well, that was a mediocre comedy, but you can see the parallels to the end of Lear, no? Who's going to rule? Albany tries to put it on Kent's shoulders, but Kent refuses. What's going to happen? Is there any hope for Lear's kingdom? Is this going to lead to bloody dynastic wars? Or has England learned its lesson?

Alexi said...

Historically, and implicitly at the end of the play, Edgar becomes the next king of England (of course, the Lear story ends very differently in Shakespeare's sources, but I'll set that aside for a moment). His reign included the doleful task of repelling the wolves that had invaded the realm. I could see Hollywood trying to dramatize that, but the fact almost all the other Lear characters are dead puts a small damper on it.

My pitch is a sequel to Merchant of Venice combined with a prequel to Othello. We see the main Othello characters growing up and their encounters with aging characters from Merchant. For example, I'd conflate the two Gratianos (the clownish sidekick from Merchant and Desdemona's uncle in Othello) so that Desdemona could spend some of her childhood at Belmont, interacting with Portia, Nerissa, Jessica, Antonio, and the rest. We'd see Iago as a young soldier, and witness his first encounters with Cassio, Roderigo, Emilia, and finally, Othello. Othello meanwhile has gone on some of the incredible adventures from his soldier-of-fortune days he describes in the play ("hair-breadth scapes in the imminent deadly breech...being taken by the insolent foe and sold to slavery") and eventually take a position as Venice's top general. Meanwhile, Iago would be poking around in Venice to investigate the urban legend of Shylock and the pound of flesh bargain, trying to uncover the truth about what, to him, is a fascinating study in hatred. He eventually finds Shylock, living as a Christian due to his forced conversion, but in actuality rejected by both the Jewish and Christian communities in Venice. In my mind, Shylock's story concludes with a bittersweet happy ending, as some character (Desdemona?) finds a way to return to him his wife's turquoise ring stolen by Jessica in Merchant. Iago, however, finds in Shylock's story only the perverse attraction of hatred, and the film ends darkly as we see the events immediately preceding Othello (Othello and Desdemona's marriage, Iago being passed over for promotion in favor of Cassio) through Iago's bitter and vengeful eyes.

Weez said...

I've gotta say, I'm simply DYING to know what Pistol gets up to when he's not onstage. I don't care if it's prequel or sequel, but I envision a whole series of Flashman-style stories about his exploits. :)

Mark said...

Alexi: Thank you for the historical info. :) It does sound like it could make a good movie, though not all that relevant to "King Lear."

I love your idea, though. I think there's so much material there. One direction you don't go very much is the parallel theme of intolerance and bigotry in "Othello" and "Merchant." But it really sounds fantastic.

Toni Morrison wrote a prequel to "Othello" that was performed recently, which is about the stories Othello tells to woo Desdemona. I didn't get to see it, unfortunately.

Alexi said...

Thanks Mark. The theme of prejudice in both plays would be explored briefly, but I think I'd leave up to audience to draw the parallels themselves. We needn't labor the point. I would, however, like to have Othello encounter the Prince of Morocco near the beginning of his travels, and hear the story of his scenes in Merchant from his perspective.

I hadn't heard about the Morisson Othello prequel. That sounds really cool. I'll have to look it up. Thanks!

Duane said...

You gents may be interested in this article, where we spoke briefly of the Morrison project:

I love it when I can point back to stuff like this :)

TK Roxborogh said...

The sequel I've written to Macbeth is a trilogy. Banquo's Son was published by Penguin in Sept 2009 and Bloodlines is out in a few weeks. Birthright is due for release same time next year.

The first book was short listed for three awards and won one of them.

Like Alexi, the sequel to Merchant is a great idea and also A Midsummer Night's Dream - why DID Egeus not want Hermia to marry Lysander?