Shakespeare: The Original Entertainment Marketer
One of the many reasons Shakespeare is such a popular writer is because his themes are universal. Something which Bell Shakespeare constantly prove as they launch new successful programs every year!
It didn’t matter if you were a poor groundling or wealthy elite in 1599 and it doesn’t matter if you are a theatrical connoisseur or a first-time theatre goer in 2013. There is something in Shakespeare for each of these different segments of society (and all those that fall in between). He really is one of the first marketers because he understood what affected his audience and turned that into a show with which they could all relate!
The genius of Shakespeare, when it was originally performed in 16th and 17th century London, was its ability reflect the plights of the current society. So when it is performed in traditional interpretations within today’s society it can lose some of its relevance because while we are afflicted with similar themes they have embodied themselves in different contexts.
Plus, there is nothing like a man in full Elizabethan dress complete with tights that can turn away audiences who are unsure whether they would enjoy a Shakespeare play.
But here is the genius of Bell Shakespeare.
While the themes of Shakespeare still resonate with current audiences, sometimes they can get lost in settings which have very little in common with today’s society. Well, Bell Shakespeare takes the Shakespearian material and transplants it into a time that is relatable to current audiences.
For example, take Henry V from their 2014 season. It is a play about “a king who unites his nation with eloquent words and ideas, his triumphs and humanity”. Sound familiar?
While it would take a PhD on the Battle of Agincourt (the original setting) to completely understand the historical setting of the play and enjoy it for what it was in Shakespeare’s time, this play is filled with universal themes. Themes which may lose their relevance to a modern audience with less Shakespeare-exposure if it were to be set around the Battle of Agincourt.
But have a look at the description I provided earlier that came straight from the promotional material for the 2014 season. Could this description describe anyone else in the last 100 years? Obama, Churchill, Thatcher and many more. In fact, the setting of war couldn’t be more pertinent as we are ending our time invading the Middle East. However the difference is that we all understand the historical influences and circumstances of these recent times and can therefore sympathise with the story.
A quality which will help the relevant themes of this play shine to audiences who have had less exposure to Shakespeare and will only further enhance the experience of those who know the original play!
And while other historical art forms may be playing to diminishing crowds – it is clever moves like these that will keep the words of the bard from fading into oblivion even at the turning o’ the tide.
To find out more about Bell Shakespeare’s 2014 season and for information on ticket bookings, visit: www.bellshakespeare.com.au
P.S. I was going to title this post To Be Relevant, Or Not To Be Relevant, but I thought that was a bit far . . .