In this engaging new book, writer and critic Graham Holderness shows how a classic Shakespeare play can be the source for a modern story, providing a creative 'collision' between the Shakespeare text and contemporary concerns. Using an analogy from particle physics, Holderness tests his methodology through specific examples, structured in four parts: a recreation of performances of Hamlet and Richard II aboard the East India Company ship the Red Dragon in 1607; an imagined encounter between Shakespeare and Ben Jonson writing the King James Bible; the creation of a contemporary folk hero based on Coriolanus and drawing on films such as Skyfall and The Hurt Locker; and an account of the terrorist bombing at a performance of Twelfth Night in Qatar in 2005. These pieces of narrative and drama are interspersed with literary criticism, each using a feature of the original Shakespeare play or its performance to illuminate the extraordinary elasticity of Shakespeare. The 'tales' provoke questions about what we understand to be Shakespeare and not-Shakespeare, making the book of vital interest to students, scholars, and enthusiasts of Shakespeare, literary criticism and creative writing.
Graham Holderness is Research Professor in English at the University of Hertfordshire. He has published extensively in early modern and modern literature, and drama. His influential publications include Shakespeare's History (1985), The Shakespeare Myth (1988), the trilogy Cultural Shakespeare: Essays in the Shakespeare Myth (2001), Visual Shakespeare: Essays in Film and Television (2002) and Textual Shakespeare: Writing and the Word (2003), the innovative biography Nine Lives of William Shakespeare (2011) and the novel The Prince of Denmark (2001). He is also a dramatist and poet, and his poetry collection Craeft received a Poetry Book Society award in 2002.
Introduction: from appropriation to collision; Part I: 1. The voyage of the Red Dragon; 2. 'Shooting an elephant'; Part II: 3. Shakespeare and the King James Bible; 4. 'Wholly Writ': a play in two acts; Part III: 5. The Coriolanus myth; 6. 'The lonely dragon'; Part IV: 7. Shakespeare and 9/11; 8. 'Rudely interrupted'; Afterword: 'Tales from Shakespeare'.