Workout Song of the Day: “The Bird and the Worm” by The Used
There’s an interesting conversation going on at YA Highway about the lack of new ideas. Sounds kinda morbid, but it is kinda true (I know all of my former English teachers are wincing right about now). There’s really only a handful of storylines that are recycled over and over and…over again, but talented writers know how to bring a little something, something to it–that’s swagger talk for “a new twist.”
Let’s think about this. Lisa Dierbeck’s One Pill Makes You Smaller is a graphic retelling of Alice in Wonderland. Sex and the City is just like Golden Girls without the Polydent. Westside Story is pretty much Romeo and Juliet with singing and men confident enough to do high kicks in very tight jeans. Every new story is rooted in a traditional tale.
Speaking of Romeo and Juliet, I have been thinking of a new way to retell one of my favorite Shakespeare plays and bring it to the YA world. Yes, I know that this has been done tons of times before, but I think that modernizing classics encourages students to actually take a look at the original works. Here’s a list of my top 3 “revisions” of good ol‘ Shakespeare (all of these are movies since I LOVE to eat popcorn):
1. Hamlet starring Ethan Hawke and Julia Stiles: This is my absolutely FAVORITE Shakespeare play of all time, and Ethan played the title role with the perfect balance of subtlety and craziness. Sure, the Mel Gibson and Kenneth Branagh ones may be more popular, but I think Ethan’s better to look at.
2. O starring Josh Hartnett, Mekhi Phifer, and Julia Stiles: Think Othello on a basketball team. Not only does this movie capture the essence of the play, which is jealousy and betrayal, but it does so from a teenager’s point of view. O makes the gossip mill that’s in every school building a bit scarier–and it allows you to see the tragic consequences of spreading a rumor.
3. 10 Things I Hate About You starring Heath Ledger, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, and, whaddaya know…Julia Stiles: Someone needs to find another Shakespeare play to adapt because I think that Ms. Stiles is seriously underrated. This film is a teen comedy take on The Taming of the Shrew. When my cousin and I first saw this movie in theaters, we pretty much blinked the whole way through. Now, it has become a cult classic–and it gave us a fine introduction to two of our favorite actors (we miss you Heath!).
So, as you can see, good stories can still be told–just make sure that you add your own personality to it. What are some of your favorite retellings?