Canadian Adaptations of Shakespeare Project
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Shakespeare's World Cup (2002)

Chris Coculuzzi and Matt Toner

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Download Daniel Fischlin's Foreword to Shakespeare's Sports Canon by Chris Coluluzzi and Matt Toner

Chris Coculuzzi
Chris Coculuzzi
Matt Toner
Matt Toner

At the beginning of Soccer in Sun and Shadow, Eduardo Galeano despairs the the professionalization of soccer: what he calls the "voyage from beauty to duty" (2). In this "voyage" he sees the suppression of the beauty, creativity, and freedom of play in favour of winning and profit. Professional soccer "imposes a soccer of lightning speed and brute strength, a soccer that negates joy, kills fantasy and outlaws daring" (2). The same can be said of professional hockey, where playmakers become the targets of bruisers with cement hands, and are forced out of the game through injury. But getting back to soccer, as Galeano says:

Luckily, on the field you can still see, even if only once in a long while, some insolent rascal who sets aside the script and commits the blunder of dribbling past the entire opposing side, the referee and the crowd in the stands, all for the carnal delight of embracing the forbidden adventure of freedom. (2)

It is this "adventure of freedom" that Galeano looks for in soccer, the aptly nicknamed 'beautiful game.'

We can see similar moments of beauty, creativity and freedom in the many Fringe Festivals in Canada. Canada now boasts the most Fringe Festivals in the world: the Canadian Association of Fringe Festivals now has twenty-three members, including four members in the United States (http://www.fringetoronto.com/history.shtml). Fringe in Canada has adopted the principles set out at the original Fringe Festival in Edinburgh in 1947, which were "to provide all artists, emerging and established, with the opportunity to produce their play no matter the content, form or style, and to make the event as affordable and accessible as possible for the members of the community" (http://www.fringetoronto.com/history.shtml). The freedom of the Fringe has allowed for productions that have ranged from the great, to the terrible, to the "gloriously disastrous."

The Fringe has also been a goldmine for adaptations of Shakespeare: the CASP database lists 44 adaptations that have been performed at Fringe Festivals. In 2002, Shakespeare's World Cup, written by Chris Coculuzzi and Matt Toner, premiered at the Toronto Fringe Festival, on Trinity College Playing Field at the University of Toronto, following their 2001 Toronto Fringe production of Shakespeare's Rugby Wars. Shakespeare's World Cup presents the characters of four of Shakespeare's 'great' tragedies as national soccer teams competing for the World Cup: Othello represented Italy, Hamlet Denmark, King Lear England, and Macbeth Scotland. Thirty-nine cast members were required to perform the four plays, represented as soccer matches, in seventy-five minutes.

Coculuzzi and Toner tackled the tragedies from behind, cleats high-surely a cardable offence. Taking advantage of the 2002 World Cup, they set the action in Korea and Japan. The play is held together through the play-by play commentaries of John Falstaff (a character from 1 Henry IV, 2 Henry IV, and The Merry Wives of Windsor) and Thomas Middleton (a contemporary of Shakespeare's who probably revised Macbeth for publication in the First Folio), with player interviews conducted by Raphael Holinshed (one of Shakespeare's principle sources for Macbeth and King Lear, and all the English history plays). In the two semifinals, Scotland plays Italy, and England plays Denmark, with the winner of each game advancing to the finals to determine Shakespeare's greatest tragedy.

But why couldn't there have been a Brazilian tragedy by Shakespeare?  

Gordon Lester

Download Script
Link to Database
Link to Interview with Chris Coculuzzi
Link to Shakespeare in Sports

Download Daniel Fischlin's Foreword to Shakespeare's Sports Canon by Chris Coluluzzi and Matt Toner


Sources:

Galeano, Eduardo. Soccer in Sun and Shadow. Trans. Mark Fried. London: Verso, 1998.

 

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