Serial Shakespeare – The Case of Star-Crossed (2014)
The paper investigates the ways Shakespeare’s oeuvre, with its reputation for a universal adaptability that embraces all media and contexts, finds its way into a serial structure that is the dominant form of visual performance today. In order to see whether this seems at all possible, the paper examines the most recent television series, Star-Crossed, in which the original Shakespearean narrative unit (Romeo and Juliet) is broken up into several episodes, thus adopting the most popular televisual genre of our time. The paper argues that this fragmentation of the original narrative whole fits into the contemporary cultural tendencies of textual poaching, snatching quotations and (re)placing them in seemingly random contexts, often with a complete ignorance of original meanings and contextual frameworks, but applying them to whichever means seems favourable for the adaptors. At the same time, it also appears that the dramatic original does not lend itself easily to serialisation, and notwithstanding the conscious decisions on the part of the creators to embed the series into the topical, stylistic, generic and aesthetic contexts of contemporary television, the failure of the enterprise comes as no surprise.
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