Shakespeare and Modern Retellings in American History

The other night, I had the privilege of watching one of my good friend, Archie, direct Taming of the Shrew by William Shakespeare. Overall I quite enjoyed it. The play takes place in the 1960s. Choosing this era gives it a type of Madmen feel, especially during a time when women wanted to speak their own mind and have a say.

The part that I enjoyed the most was seeing Petruchio dawn the 1960s Batman attire on his wedding day with Katherina. Yes, you read that right. Batman stole the show!


The dialogue was comical and small parts of the it was modernized, but still kept the Shakespearean language. That’s what I really loved about this play adaption! The director was creative in still using Shakespeare’s language for a modern age.

I give this adaption 5 stars and two thumbs up. I’d give a third one if I had one!

This play is a must see! I’d see it again. The last showing of it is August 5th, 2017 @ 7:30 in the Provo Castle Amphitheatre. If you don’t have a date for it, get one!

Now awhile back, I had a fun conversation with the director of this well executed play. We were talking about how he would like to do a continuation of Shakespeare plays as a series. For example; he wanted to make Othello a sequel to Taming of the Shrew. The reason being is because sometime after the 60s America was struggling with racial discrimination. Othello would fit perfectly with this timeframe. Othello is a Moor and a modern retelling of this play, Othello would be an African American. Hopefully we’ll see this adaption in the following season!

But why stop there? Now I don’t know if the director is going to continue making sequels or even prequels after his take on the Taming of the Shrew, but I have some ideas of my own on what I would do for some Shakespeare play adaption in the American history timeline. So without further ado, I give you my American History version of Adapted Shakespeare Plays:

The Tempest(1400s-1500s)

I would have this play take place during the time of discovering America. Roughly between 1400s-1500s. So this would be a prequel to Taming of the Shrew, but it won’t be the only prequel. Granted the play was written around 1610, but it would be perfect to mix it with American History by having an old medicine man and his daughter surviving in a New World haunted by the supernatural. I mean after all the play does hint that they were stranded in the Bermuda Triangle.



I would have Coriolanus take place during The Civil War. When you think about it, Coriolanus is later drawn between choosing a side to fight with. It will start out with The Union not favoring Coriolanus’ decisions and they later banish him. Coriolanus then joins his enemy Tullus Aufidius, who is in charge of a Confederate Army, to seek revenge on The Union.


Merchant of Venice(1918)

I would have this play take place after WW I. The reason being is because of Shylock. He being Jewish and having to deal with religious and racial discrimination, especially from Antonio.



I would have Hamlet take place during The Roaring Twenties. It will be the same story, but Hamlet will be an aspiring silent filmmaker. Instead of creating a play depicting what his uncle did to his father, he will make a movie that will go into detail of what he thinks happened to his late father.


I would have this play take place during the Mafia Era. When you think about it it makes perfect sense having Macbeth be a part of the Mafia. This play has so much bloodshed going on that it would put The Godfather to shame. Instead of witches telling Macbeth the future, I would have Gypsy Fortune Tellers give him his fortune. Macbeth will then go down like Scarface!


Romeo and Juliet(1940s-1950s)

In this era, I would have The Montagues be The Greasers and The Capulets be The Socs. Even though this was done in the West Side Story, but it would be interesting and fun to see this adaption with Shakespeare language.


Taming of the Shrew(Early 1960s)

Like what was mentioned before dealing with women wanting equal rights.

Othello(Late 1960s)

Obviously going back to what I said before with this time period dealing with racial discrimination.

All’s Well That Ends Well, Twelfth Night, and As You Like It(1990s-2010s)

After Othello, I would have these plays deal with the issues and roles of the opposite sex, same sex attraction, and transgender. It would fit with what is currently happening in American History and fit well with the timeline.


I have more ideas on the way. These are the ones that stuck out to me the most as really good adaptations of Shakespeare plays that will work with the timeline in American History.

What do you think? Anything you would change or add on to the list? Let me know in the comments below!


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