"Pluralizing Shakespeare" : a discussion on the "afterlife" of Shakespeare and the languages of the stage in cross-cultural representations
21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association
University of Vienna
The heterogeneity and the heteroglossic potential in Shakespearean plays are discovered and rediscovered in the constant interplay between these plays and other forms of theatre across cultural borders. The crossing is made possible by the incessant explorations of universal values embedded in them. This, however, does not mean an overlook of cultural differences. Walter Benjamin, when conceptualizing his theory of translation, adopts the metaphor “afterlife” to describe the relationship between an original and its translation. Translation is empowered with the ability to transform the original and to make it anew. It is separated from its original text and at the same time it is rooted in this original. This finds resonance on stage in where performing a text connote variations giving the performance an essence of newness of the original. The paper discusses Shakespearean plays and the languages of the stage in Hong Kong context in which Benjamin’s concept of “afterlife” can provide a framework to approach the transculturation of these plays. Shakespeare is able to cross cultural borders not just because of the presence of universal values but also being an original text which “is an eddy in the stream of becoming” in Benjamin’s dictum. This explains the change of Shakespeare into Shakespeares.
Wong, D. (2016, July). "Pluralizing Shakespeare": A discussion on the "afterlife" of Shakespeare and the languages of the stage in cross-cultural representations. Paper presented at the 21st World Congress of the International Comparative Literature Association, Vienna.