I recently had a conversation with a friend who relayed a story about taking her young children to see a production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream and how they loved the entire experience. She’d been shocked that they had liked it so much, especially considering the rich language.
Any excellent production of a Shakespeare play can be a powerful experience for a person, whether they are young or old. Midsummer is of course infinitely charming with broad, larger than life characters, and filled with romance, fairies and a fairy queen, and a funny bumbling man running around with a donkey head. And it has my favorite character, Puck. But, whether tragedy or comedy, Shakespeare can transcend time and language and medium and form, and it can reach audiences of all ages.
Shakespeare’s plays are the gift that keeps on giving. They’re powerful. They’re universal. They’re excellent story-telling. When I think of Shakespeare, I immediately think of his many wonderful characters. They resonate so strongly with an emotional truth that anyone can relate to. When re-imaging Shakespeare, or “re-mixing” as the kids like to call it these days, it is important to tap into that well of truth, but to do so in a new and different story. Shakespeare is our toolbox, yet we must face a blank page.
A re-imaging is not a re-telling. It is not taking Hamlet and plopping the story wholesale into a different setting or a different time period. The first thing I did when I began writing THE CAKE HOUSE was turn by back on Shakespeare. I wanted the flavor of Hamlet but no more. Instead, I wrote the story I wanted to write and let Shakespeare bleed through where it worked best.
Make your lead characters young, but give them that same emotional truth. Give them the same level of fear and love and hope and romance that exists in the original. Young and older readers will gravitate to the story, so long as that truth is there.
To make re-mixed Shakespeare exciting for young readers as well as older readers, get your hands dirty and have a field day in that Shakespeare toolbox. Become familiar with the source. And by familiar I don’t mean able to recite it by heart. I mean deconstruct it. Take it apart and put it back together again. Examine themes and objectives, character and purpose. And then begin writing.
About the Author
Latifah Salom was born in Hollywood, California to parents of Peruvian and Mexican descent. As a teenager she attended the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts, and she holds degrees from Emerson College, Hunter College, and from the University of Southern California’s Masters of Professional Writing program. The Cake House is her first novel. She currently lives in Los Angeles.
By Latifah Salom
Publisher’s Synopsis: Rosaura Douglas’s father shot himself after her mother left him . . . or at least that’s the story everyone is telling. Now her mother has remarried and Rosie is trapped in “The Cake House,” a garish pink edifice in the hills of Los Angeles that’s a far cry from the cramped apartment where she grew up. It’s also the house where her father died—a fact that everyone else who lives there, including her mother, Dahlia, and her mysteriously wealthy stepfather, Claude, want to forget.
Soon, however, her father’s ghost appears, sometimes in a dark window, sometimes in the house’s lush garden, but always with warnings that Claude is not to be trusted. And as the ghost becomes increasingly violent—and the secrets of her family’s past come to light—Rosie must finally face the truth behind the losses and lies that have torn her life apart.
Ages 14+ | Publisher: Vintage | 2015 | ISBN-13: 978-0345806512
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