Saturday, April 7, 2012


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“Shakespeare Happy TV”

· Appealing to a dual audience

§ Those people who know Shakespeare and will be curious to see what is being done with it

§ Those who don’t know Shakespeare, but who enjoy post pub entertainment

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· Respectability � It’s combining one of the lowest aspects of popular culture, candid camera, and mixing it with the highest of high culture, thereby giving it respectability. It can be argued to be educational and giving Henry V a news lease of life.

· Didacticism � there is a teaching component to this. It does test people’s knowledge of Shakespeare and shows what happens when you bypass the traditional mediums that Shakespeare is conveyed through (theatre, film, etc)

· Realism � Unrealistic as it’s being performed by a couple of people in the streets. However, the show itself is realistic as there is no rehearsal and minimal preparation and is done with non-actors taking part, who are unaware of the exact nature of what is going on.

· Spectacle and visual pleasure � the actors are making a spectacle of themselves and the visual pleasure comes across through the comedy, which is unsubtle and works on a purely visual level.

· Popular intertextual references � Trigger Happy TV; candid camera; superman (other super heroes)

· Problems of adaptation � language is not a problem. In fact the language is vital to Trigger Happy Shakespeare (THS), as having people talking in that kind of language elicits responses from people. We’re cutting the majority of the text, so understanding the language in terms of plot is not essential.

· Cutting again is not a problem. We could stage the whole of Henry V impromptu in the street, but again, people who probably become aware of what we are doing, which defeats the point of THS.

· Historical Context � in an era when attention spans are short and considering the time we would expect this to be broadcast on TV, quickfire sketches are the order of the day as they keep the audience’s attention far better than a full adaptation of Henry V would do at the same time. It also shows people’s apathy to what’s going on around them. Although we occasionally got strange looks, many people preferred to walk on by without questioning what we were doing.

· Political Economy � THS can be made very cheaply and independently. This type of TV is currently very popular and shows no sign of fatigue just yet, so now would be an ideal time for this kind of show. Video is a realistic prospect for further sales, as is a soundtrack, therefore providing us with an opportunity to cash in on the Bardbiz.

· Individual contributions � we don’t need people to rewrite or to have a director who’s overly concerned with mise-en-scene. Actors would be required to read what is written and use fairly traditional interpretation of the roles.

· Audience � The primary audience is 16-5 year olds who would watch it after they’ve gone out, or who are fans of popular comedy shows on TV. Many of them probably are not fans of Shakespeare so if it is publicised as subverting Shakespeare and nothing like what they were taught about the Bard at school, hopefully we can capture their interest. However, we would also be aiming it at all ages who are familiar with Shakespeare and who would watch because of the link to him. Humour is a good medium to use as if something is funny people will watch it, because people enjoy laughing and it is a good way of relaxing, something which is not normally associated with Shakespeare. The tagline of “Don’t find us, we’ll find you”, is enigmatic and should engage interest of people.


Shakespearean adaptations have enabled Shakespeare’s play to be translucent and timeless and appeal to the society and in context of the time it was produced. Directors have taken his work and adapted it in many different theatrical styles ranging from top Hollywood blockbusters, as Junger (1) did in 10 things I Hate About You or in small screen shows aimed at a television audience rather than cinema goers. For example the BBC produced in 1 the entire cycle of Shakespeare’s plays which encouraged networks to take Shakespeare to a domestic audience in attempt to provide the highest kind of entertainment combined with high educative and cultural value” (Davies, 14, p8). Our adaptation of Henry V lies between these two extremes to encompass a dual audience at different ends of the cultural spectrum.

The idea of our adaptation, Shakespeare Happy TV came from discussion within our group as to why we chose this module, our impression of Shakespeare and how we wanted to change this opinion by using the medium of television. We wanted to eradicate the impression that Shakespeare is for a niche audience and only used educationally. As Davies states, ‘These media have become the most practical means of making Shakespeare’s plays in performance a world heritage rather than a national one passed on through educational systems.’ (Davies, 14, p1). From this consensus we decided to centre our idea on the popular Channel Four production, Trigger Happy TV and the original text of Henry V. By using the idea of comedy we endeavoured to associate Shakespeare with light- hearted entertainment and draw it away from the educational audience it has been stereotyped into.

Primarily, Shakespeare Happy TV is targeted at an audience who are fans of the Channel Four production, Trigger Happy TV. The concept of this program is centred on the visual gags used by front man Dom Jolly (A). He performs well-planned pranks and deals with manipulating normal human behaviour and exploiting abnormal characteristics of the public and celebrities. As a single front man, Jolly, is the comical nucleus of the show because of his use of predictability. His show can also be seen as having time constraints as his first two series of Trigger Happy TV were so popular, he gained national recognition as people new who he was. .6 million people watched the first show. By using the same formula for Shakespeare Happy TV, the group hoped to gain the same level of recognition in the public eye for the Great British playwright.

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