Decolonizing Shakespeare?

After watching the 2012 adaptation of Much Ado About NothingĀ I had a lot of thoughts, one of which being that I didn’t like it very much at all. I thought it was a strange combination of having the lines almost exactly the same as Shakespeare had written them while being set in modern times, and also having it in black and white (was this an ode to comedic films of the past?). Regardless, initially, I didn’t think that this adaptation brought much more to this play, especially when compared to the “Shakespeare in the Park” adaptation. There wasn’t the same energy or intentional changing of the plot and characters to truly make the show a different experience and challenge some of Shakespeares’ ideologies.

However, as I continued to reflect on the film after I had watched it, I realized that maybe the point of this movie wasn’t to change anything in the plot or the characters, yet leave it exactly how it is and change it to today. I, for one, am enthused with the idea of decolonizing Shakespeare. I am not a big fan of white men dominating every field in the history of forever, so when we get the chance to challenge them, I relish in it. My thoughts were, that in this adaptation, the setting of modern times would initiate thoughts of how fucked up some of this play was. It’s different when you’re looking at the issue of Hero’s virginity being such a big issue or why Beatrice’s outspoken desire against men was so opposed by Leonato and others during the context of Shakespeares’ time. I think that we are programmed to try to contextualize it, but this film allows us to see it for what it is. It shows just how truly sexist and misogynistic Shakespeares’ ideologies were by only changing the setting of the play. While I did not enjoy the film all that much, I do feel that it is a great way to decolonize Shakespeare if the right discussions are had about it!


  1. I definitely agree that this film was an interesting combination of being set in a modern era, but with little thematic changes compared to the original play. I also enjoyed the Shakespeare in the Park adaptation much better and the way they intentionally challenged some of Shakespeare’s ideologies. The only semi-drastic change I found that they made was showing that Beatrice and Benedick had a romantic past.

  2. I agree!! It exaggerated these ways of thinking from the past and even pointed out how they are similar to today. This made it uncomfortable, but revealing in a positive way that I think we can utilize when thinking about our own work.

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