Blood and the Bard = Bad?

While reading a post on another Shakespeare Blog (I’m not the only one!) I found an interesting post that sparked some interest: Bloody Good Shakespeare? – The Shakespeare Blog. You should see my reply underneath the post.

The post brings up a good question: “Does blood and gore have a place in Shakespearean production?” My answer: absolutely. Now I’m not a fan of slasher films, I don’t enjoy blood and gore for the sake of having blood and gore. If it’s there for a reason, then sure. There’s also suspension of disbelief to consider. It’s theatre, so not all the bells and whistles have to be there like in film. It all depends on the directors concept.

But some people are uneasy about excessive blood in one of Shakespeare’s works. Not everyone can stand to watch Julie Taymor’s Titus, a very bloody film of Shakespeare’s bloodiest play. But why this unwillingness to see the blood? Shakespeare wrote plenty of action filled plays. The histories are full of large battles between kingdoms, so are many action movies produced today. People don’t mind seeing gruesome killings in Braveheart. What’s the difference?

Many see Shakespeare’s works as “high art,” and “classic poety” which calls for a highly controlled intellectual and, quite frankly, boring experience. NO! Shakespeare’s plays were written to entertain the masses. People like to see a good fight! And quite often the outcome of a fight is blood being spilled. When Romeo and Juliet kill themselves and fall on top of eachother, are we supposed to think “Oh, how beautiful!” I don’t think so. This is a tragedy, not a romantic ideal. If Romeo vomited from drinking the poison, and Juliet bled all over herself, Romeo, and whatever else was around we would be rupulsed! Then their families walk in to a disgusting and tragic scene and realize that the cost of their feuding has been too great.

Now I’m not suggesting that this needs to be done for every production. Not a lot of theatre’s have the proper resources to do that sort of effect. My point is that people can’t be afraid to use blood where it’s appropriate. Shakespeare is entertainment. When you have a violent story, expect to see violence.