Wylde Q. Chicken Award Winner Megan James,
with Class of '72 Representative Scott Wyatt
In Mr. Rayburn's Shakespeare class, there is a big fourth quarter project. In it, we are encouraged to be creative; students do anything from making a board game based on the Bard's plays to creating trailers for the plays in a modern style. There are all sorts of creative options, but we are also given the option to propose our own idea and create something all our own. This is what I did, by taking a question that had come up in class discussion and running with it: "What would "Richard III" be like if the reader didn't know Richard was in charge?"
For my project, I took the script of Richard III, and, in a most Richardesque manner, cut it to pieces to get what I wanted. Rather than a story that follows a crazy, crown hunting killer through his spree, I wanted to create a murder mystery, where the killer is completely unknown and everyone is a suspect. To create this new setting, I took the entire script of the play and cut out or edited every aside, edited every scene in which Richard admits his guilt, and added anonymity to a majority of Richard's more important conversations, either by putting them on a note dropped at a crime scene or putting Richard himself, unidentified as anything other than "the Boss," on the other end of a telephone. I was only able to take advantage of this incredibly useful technology, because I also created new settings for most scenes, and set the entire play in 1920s mobster Chicago, where the royalty are now at the top of the pack in the mafia. After I read and reread the play to the point of memorization, and with all the changes in setting, dialogue, an ultimately plot that I did, the play ended up being a little over 23,000 words, and my own new script that I am very proud of.
I LOVED this project and had planned to nominate it myself until Megan told me she was going to self nominate. She pulled the idea from a conversation we had in class about Richard's character always spelling out what he was planning. Someone raised the question of how not knowing his plans would change our view of him and Megan approached me to tell me she wanted to try it. It was a mammoth undertaking, and she pulled it off brilliantly. If you read Megan's adaptation, you see every character in the same light except Richard. It sets the play on its head. Interestingly, (more than you want to know, I'm sure) Shakespeare drew upon Thomas More's version of RIII that was totally the Tudor party line, Henry VIII's dad being the one who overthrew Richard and started the Tudor dynasty. Megan's version takes all the Tudor propaganda out, really, and makes Richard look better and Richmond seems worse. I thought it was one of the best, most innovative projects I have had at Uni.