Sunday, 23 January 2011

Crackerjack Meets King Lear

Do you remember the BBC children's show Crackerjack and its tradition (at least before Chas and Dave gave them a theme tune composed with the same care that Lennon and McCartney expended over I Wanna Be Your Man) of a panto-type finale utilising the pop songs of the day?

Have you ever read, seen or been obliged to study King Lear?

Have you ever stopped to ponder what King Lear might have been like if put through the Crackerjack process?

Ah, but did you then transform that idle thought into some semblance of action?

Well, I - or rather a persona I constructed - did.

It's about a year since I lost interest in the project, but if you have read and enjoyed other entries in this blog it is possible that my Crackerjack-does-Lear blog, which I have entitled CrackLEARjack, may provide diversion. If you're still reading this entry, let me tell you about it.

It all seemed so simple when I started. I would do a scene a day, using Shakespeare's text but scooping out portions wherein might be inserted appropriate pop songs. It would be the work of an hour. Or two.

I became more involved in writing a commentary, partly because it proved less daunting, and partly because I wasn't quite sure just how unhinged the character supposedly embarking on this project was going to be, and I wanted to hang around in order to find out.

The answer was: quite a lot, prey to saucy doubts and fears, like that bloke in that other Shakespeare play that people are afraid to talk about.

When I eventually attempted a scene or two, I quickly found that the broad sweep of the idea of treating a great play in this way was more appealing than the detail. I worked on it on and off for a bit, then stopped.

Maybe I'll go back to it, maybe I won't. But maybe there is only so much fun to be had in doodling over a masterpiece, and it had run its course.

Yet when I read over some entries, some details still make me laugh.

And it's not impossible they may make some of you out there - you know, the ones who haven't just arrived at this blog in the vain hope of finding downloads.

So this post is designed to alert you to the CrackLEARjack blog. If you are American, it probably won't mean anything to you, and I suspect Crackerjack is one product which won't travel well, although I suppose you could describe it as a vaudeville-style kids' TVshow with an extended skit at the end into which pop hits of the day were shoehorned, to be sung and sent up by the cast.

As a final enticement, here is an extract from the opening scene:
Act One Scene One

King Lear's palace. Enter KENT, GLOUCESTER, and EDMUND

KENT I thought the king had more affected the Duke of Albany than Cornwall.

GLOUCESTER It did always seem so to us: but now,
Torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool,
Loving both of you is breaking all the rules.

KENT Is not this your son, my lord?

GLOUCESTER I have so often blushed to acknowledge him, that now I am brazed to it –
Because you're all I have, my boy –
You are my life, my pride, my joy –
And if I stay, I stay because of you, my boy.

KENT I cannot conceive you.

GLOUCESTER Sir, this young fellow's mother could:
Love Child, Never meant to be, Love Child, Scorned by Society.
Love Child, Always second best, Love Child, Different from the rest.
Do you smell a fault?

KENT I cannot wish the fault undone, the issue of it being so proper.

GLOUCESTER The king is coming.


KING LEAR Attend the lords of France and Burgundy, Gloucester.

GLOUCESTER I shall, my liege.


KING LEAR Know that we have divided In three our kingdom: and 'tis our fast intent
To shake all cares and business from our age; while we
Unburthen'd crawl toward death. Tell me, my daughters,--
Since now we will divest us both of rule,
Interest of territory, cares of state,--
Do you love me? (I can really move)
Do you love me? (Now I'm in the groove)
Do you love me? (Do you love me?)
Now that I can dance - dance - dance!
Goneril, Our eldest-born, speak first.

CrackLEARjack blog introduction here.

Postscript: I put the posts in Cracklearjack into draft mode, intending to revise them, but when I next went back to them ... they had vanished. So the introductory post is now all there is left. Perhaps it's a good thing. 

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