I actually enjoyed reading some of this stuff (how did that happen?) So, I decided that I would follow suit, but rather than clean and cook the entire beast... I am just going to eat around the parts that initially draw me in and make me feel compelled to respond.
1. Enough with the goddamned Shakespeare already. The greatest playwright in history has become your enabler and your crutch, the man you call when you're timid and out of ideas. It's time for a five-year moratorium—no more high schoolers pecking at Romeo and Juliet, no more NEA funding for Shakespeare in the heartland, and no more fringe companies trying to ennoble themselves with Hamlet. (Or with anything. Fringe theater shouldn't be in the game of ennobling, it should be in the game of debasement.) Stretch yourself. Live a little. Find new, good, weird plays nobody has heard of. Teach your audiences to want surprises, not pacifiers.
I have heard this one before. I have even spoken this one before. So I, like Travis, am sympathetic, but!!! I think that there is a more vital (or maybe merely inflammatory?) way to analyze and attack our psychological dependence upon Shakespeare.
One of the pros to doing Shakespeare that many folks tout is that there are no royalties to worry about. To which I say in a somewhat huffy voice - Fine! However, I'd like to point out that there are also no intellectual property rights to worry about either. So, I would like to see alot less sanctimony regarding the bard's work and hell even his words.
I would like to see productions were Hamlet in mid soliloquy says something totally unheard of before.
I would like to see a production of Macbeth where Lady Macbeth is the actual heroine.
I want to see people bastardize and recombine and roll around and rape and pillage the First Folio with the same gusto and self indulgence an unchecked mashup mixer applies to fellow artists who are still living and breathing.
I want to see vicious over the top rewrites.
I want to see more Luchadore when witnessing Shakespeare (hint... ever see Mexican Wrestling Macbeth?)
The problem with all this Shakespeare is not that he is overdone. I think it is how he is overdone. Give me more crazy over the top Auteurist, Avantist, S/M, post apocalyptic, metal punk, surgical theatre, grand guinol... Or even wholly new genres when tickling at the bard's flavor saver.
If you must take the Bard, then do something completely different than anything you have heard or seen before. The problem isn't Shakespeare, it is the puritanical museum like reverence, the sort of standing in line at the bank approach to his work. Sometimes doing, reading, or having anything to do with Shakespeare feels like (gulp) going to Church. There I said it! I strive to be a good person, hell I even think of myself as a Christian most days, but man-o-man I hate going to Church. Shakespeare has sort of become our 700 club, our Joel Osteen, or even our Benny Hann.
If the work of the bard is damn good then I have to believe that there is something still in there for the disenters, the misfits, the freaks of nature, the snake handlers, the thumb mashers.
Dissent! Dissent! Dissent! Wring out the dissent! Wipe it on a banner with the blood and sweat. Cut out the words that distance you from giving a damn. Then embrace or deconstruct the archetypes that swim in the common mind soup we all bring when confronting the ideas and actions in the bard's work.
Insist on cutting (alot of it). Insist on paraphasing. All these directors who insist they have to have certain freedoms from the totalitarian ambitions of living playwrights (OK hyperbole...but)... divorce your notions of reverence to the Bard's work. Hint, here is the supposed greatest writer in the English langauge and you can do whatever you want to his words!!!! So, do it already!
If a Rose by any other name is still a rose, then we should be much much freer and wilder and hell even destructive in how we approach Bill's stuff. He has got moxie. He can take it.
So, don't just use Bill because he is free from fees. Use Bill because he is one of the few playwrights everyone is usually familiar with that enables freedom of approach to the expression.