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Profile Shakespeare is dead – get over it!

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Everything is put in quotation marks

by Andreas Klaeui

Accident or Coincidence? The word from the French comedy-family Fenouillard (The unjustly unknown pioneers of all bandes dessinées in Germany) could cross the minds of those who read Paul Pourveur's "Shakespeare is dead-get over it!" Not because Pourveur describes provincial family pranks or even because the caustic humour is similar. It is because of their unmoved observation of coincidence and destiny: "Hasard ou coïncidence?" –  "fate" brings Anna and William together, and of all things during a retrospective of Jean-Luc Godard's films.

She is an actress, Shakespeare means everything to her: he is a practised rival of globalisation. A love story begins, which for one utopian moment even promises unquestionable happiness, even though Anna still buys T-shirts "made in San Salvador" and William has no time for old tales of Elizabethan kings. The end is tragic; William burns to death in the Globe Theatre which he sets fire to out of jealousy. Anna drowns herself in her car. Both happen on "August 5th".

From the stag to Milton Freeman over to paradise
The story of William and Anna is the most tangible plot and the easiest to narrate. For on "August 5th" a lot of other remarkable things happen: William (a different one? The same?) slays a stag in Stratford-Upon-Avon and flees to London to set up a career as a playwright. Margareta and Roland are supposed to read one of the works of Milton for school, but read Milton Freeman's ecology book "Free to choose" instead and learn about god of marketing instead of informing themselves on God the Father and paradise.

Naomi and Noreena demonstrate against globalisation with millions of others thanks to the World Wide Web. Werner and Niels realise that Shakespeare is both existent and non-existent at the same time. And so it goes on, everything is linked to everything, everything remains disparate. The discourse network develops its own life and up until then the question of a even possible sense of meaning remains unasked. Not to mention the "true" proceedings: Was it "Le mépris" or "Deux ou trois choses que je sais d'elle" that had brought Anna and William together in the cinema?

Every age newly defines its topics!
With "Shakespeare is dead – get over it!" Paul Pourveur has written a play that is on the one hand about the disastrous consequences of globalisation, on the other about the relation of the presence to the past (not to speak of a possibly better future). The constant attempts at revitalising the past, like the virulent way of thinking in theatre scenes; could the presence be explained by the past?

Paul Pourveur doesn't believe this: "Stage directors claim those sort of things!" he says, "of course there are big topics like love, hate and war that always reoccur, each new era redefines them, the context defines them. It isn't the story or a somehow different continuity. He said he'd seen a "Macbeth" production where the stage direction coordinated the war in Yugoslavia with the person of Slobodan Milošević. "But that's called overdoing it! Shakespeare's plays can't be used to make the present understandable."