To be or what to be…

For last night’s meeting of Renegades Writers Barry had written a radio play based on the idea I had used in Macbeth at the Writers Group. In his, Shakespeare brings Romeo and Juliet to be discussed. It was very amusing and I felt pleased someone had felt one of my ideas worthy of development.

I’m doing an interview with Karl Hyde of Underworld for a future blog. One of my questions to him is how he feels about the way others take their work and re-mix it. That is the norm in music, especially dance music. The use of images by one artist as the basis of their art has a long tradition. Many Roman sculptures are copies of ancient Greek originals. Lots of artists have reworked classical paintings, or since the early twentieth century utilised others’ images, famously Duchamp ‘shocked’ the artworld by putting a moustache on a reproduction of the Mona Lisa. A much more serious reworking was Francis Bacon’s use of Valazquez’s Pope Innocent X in a remarkable series of paintings that have had a huge influence on painting. There are countless other examples.

The use of others work as a basis for your own is an important aspect of art but seems more frowned upon in writing. Last night we talked about how Jane Austen’s books have been rewritten to modernise them. We of course see many interpretations of Shakespeare to try to make it more relevant to a modern audience, or to try to draw out the meanings, with varied success! In films it has gone on since the very beginnings. Recently there was a shot by shot reworking of Psycho, which seems pointless and was fairly awful. Whereas the Dollar films add to the experience of the Japanese originals they are based upon, bringing a new dimension to what was then a very tired genre.

In writing you are always expected to have new stories, new twists. But there are only so many stories that can be told, The Bible probably had most of them anyway, and even that was changed so that in the King James version text was adjusted to make sure any parts questioning the place of the monarch were removed, and many what they saw as irrelevant books of the original biblical writings were not included.

As writers we can interpret the world through stories, poems and so on, using our own experiences and viewpoints. We cannot help to be influenced by what we read and watch, and it should never been seen as a fault, I would love to have the ability to write like some of my favourite authors, on the odd occasion I read through and think I’ve expressed something better than them, then I get some supportive criticism at Renegades and realise that well maybe not!

 One of the points raised in Barry’s play was Shakespeare’s use of other texts as the basis of the dramas, if he could do it then it must be ok!

Today’s photographs are of Newfield Street and just behind my flat in Tunstall on a very windy day, cold and sunny, taken around midday.




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