Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Getting to Know: SelfMadeHero and Manga Shakespeare Part 2

Please read Part 1 of the interview before reading Part 2

SelfMadeHero + Manga Shakespeare continuation

Even though she knew what steps to take to make the idea come true, every idea has to have a purpose. The main goal of Manga Shakespeare was to make William Shakespeare’s writings “more accessible to teenagers.” According to Hayley, “we wanted to create books that engaged readers, keeping their attention in spite of the sometimes difficult language. As a prime example, we looked to Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo and Juliet (1996) in which he kept true to the original Shakespearean language, and used visual imagery to refashion the story for modern audiences.” Other then having the writings of Shakespeare, “each of the books has its own unique visual adaptation.” For example some of the titles have been “recast in the future, fantasy worlds or modern times. For instance Romeo and Juliet is set in modern-day Tokyo.”

The primary teaching tool used to teach Shakespeare is, well, the text itself. Growing up, the bad teaching tool was cliff notes or cheat notes that causes the student to not read the actual text. So, what makes this product an important teaching tool or just different from cheating the original text? “Rather than being seen as the ‘cheats’ way of learning Shakespeare, we have thousands of teenage fans of the series who buy the books because they enjoy them as entertainment.” Because the teens have become interested in the manga adaptation of Shakespeare, “they are the perfect way of getting to grips with Shakespeare for the first time.” Now, some might be asking, “even though there are visual affects, what happens to Shakespeare’s original writing?” According to Hayley, “the text has remained in its original form, but specially abridged for the manga. Where the language is difficult at times, the visuals reinforce what’s going on in scene.” Yes, visual aid is quite helpful. It is another way of learning. (^_^)

No world is perfect and you can not please everyone. Will Shakespeare goers enjoy the series? Will Manga goers enjoy the series? Will neither party enjoy the series? “Yes there were concerns. I could have alienated both Shakespeare purists because it’s manga; and Manga purists because it’s Shakespeare. Fortunately, our series has never been criticized of being dumbed down Shakespeare, rather our adaptations have been praised for being very intelligently executed.
© 2009 Linda Thai

Stay tune for Part 3!
Thank you ABRAMS Books for letting me use the cover image.

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