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european

drama network modern movies from classic plays

a comedy by Niccolò Machiavelli a movie by Malachi Bogdanov produced by european drama network

inside this issue A post modern Machiavelli

the making of e Mandrake Root

Celluloid Shakespeare

the history of Shakespeare on screen

and more

A free online magazine about the movie of the renaissance comedy The Mandrake Root


people we like Birmingham School of Acting is a small specialist UK institution offering full-time higher education courses at undergraduate and postgraduate level and summer courses. Birmingham School of Acting is a part of Birmingham City University e: train@bsa.bcu.ac.uk

w: www.bsa.bcu.ac.uk

t: +44 (0) 121 331 7220

the audio suite is a sound design studio providing creative solutions for film and TV with imagination, ingenuity, inventiveness and originality by utilizing all aspects of sound, to develop, reinforce and intensify the audience experience and they created the sound design for The Mandrake Root. e: info@theaudiosuite.com w: www.theaudiosuite.com t: +44 (1) 121 224 8234

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Re:Frame Collection Reframe Collection is a program of the Tribeca Film Institute. The institute is a nonprofit organization and the Reframe Collection in partnership with Amazon.com supports filmmakers and niche distributors to make their work available through the largest online retailer in the USA. The Mandrake can also be purchased through the Reframe Collection www.Reframecollection.org

Sardinia and Sassari The producers of The Mandarke Root would like to thank the people, administration, Commune, businesses, bars and cafes of Sassari on the beautiufull and magical mediterrain island of Sardinia .

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CONTENTS The Mandarke Root movie page 8 story

page 11

click on the headline to go to page

adapted from the comedy La Mandragola written in 1518 by Niccolò Machiavelli.

production page 13 cast & crew page 19

The Whole Equation page 6 the european drama network concept Celluloid Shakespeare page 23 Mike Davies & the history of Shakespeare on film

Romeo & Juliet 1916 Directed by J Gordon Edwards

Sassari & Sardinia page 45 the magical mediterranean location of The Mandrake Root

Scoring the Renaissance page 34 composer Chris Ash on the musical themes of The Mandrake Root

Forthcoming Productions page 55

A Post Modern Machiavelli page 37 Producer Simon Woods on the creative drive behind The Mandrake Root

From Ithaca With Love page 58 An adaption of Homer’s The Odyssey 05


european drama network the whole equation This e-zine is edited by Simon Woods who Why movies on the internet? set up european drama network in 2007 to produce modern movies of classic We are interested in great acting not just plays and distribute them via the internet. stars. We like modern and unusual productions that take risks but remain Based in Worcestershire, England, we faithful to the original text. Frankly these collaborate internationally and operate are not the ingredients needed for cinema more like a theatre company than a film release or TV commissioning and the studio. Our first movie The Mandrake internet allows us to reach audiences who Root, was shot on the Mediterranean like what we do and enable us to sell our island of Sardinia. work, so we can make more movies without the interference of studios and TV This e-zine is free and is both an outlet for companies. our own movies and our broader interest in theatre and films. Through this and From our website you can preview our future e-zines we aim to bring an eclectic movies and download the script or buy a range of articles about our movies, our streamed VOD, download DTO forthcoming productions and the interests (download to own) or DVD in PAL or of our collaborators. We welcome relevant NTSC formats or a BluRay disc. contributions from readers. Simon Woods 06

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VFD54679 Contains moderate language and sex references Suitable only for persons of 12 years and over. Not to be supplied to any person below that age.

The Mandrake Root

The Mandrake Root is adapted from the comedy La Mandragola written in 1518 by Niccolò Machiavelli. A bawdy tale of cunning and desire Adapted and directed by Malachi 08

the movie

Bogdanov. An international theatre director it is his first film. He trained with Jacque Lecoq in Paris where he studied commedia dellâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;arte, clowning and physical theatre. Having written


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the script he rehearsed with the cast for two weeks prior to the shot, using some of the actual loactions, developing a number of the physical comedy elements of the work.

î&#x20AC;&#x201E;e Mandrake Root

Malachi Bogdanov 09


Chara Jackson as Lucrezia - the wife on set


e Mandrake Root

e Story

The Mandrake Root was originally set in Florence, Italy in 1504 but the film

relocates the story to Sassari in Sardinia, in a similar period. The action takes place over a 24 hour period and the comedy’s main theme is the use of deceit. The plot revolves around each character thinking they are shrewder than the next. The movie begins like the play with a prologue, written by Machiavelli. The story tells of Callimaco, a young Sardinian who returns from Paris and is overcome by the beauty of Lucrezia, the virtuous and beautiful wife of the rich and foolish lawyer Nicia. In his desire to bed her, he engages the services of a dubious fixer Ligurio who knows that Nicia and Lucrezia are desperate for a child. With Ligurio’s help, Callimaco masquerading as a doctor, convinces Nicia that the surest way for his wife to conceive is by taking a potion made from the Mandrake Root, with the dire warning that the first man to sleep with her will die within eight days. Nicia agrees to a plan to kidnap an unsuspecting man to sleep with his wife and thereby draw out the poison, but of course it is the disguised Callimaco who is kidnapped. To persuade his virtuous wife to agree to the plan, Nicia enlists the help of her mother, a woman of questionable virtue, and her confessor, a priest of equally dubious morals. Ultimately Callimaco succeeds in sleeping with Lucrezia and confesses all. She decides that due to the stupidity of her husband and deception of her mother and confessor, she will continue to be his lover and ‘what her husband wanted for her to have for one night, she now wants him to have forever’. The story concludes with everyone getting what they want and believing that each has outwitted the other.

The Mandrake Root SCRIPT Adapted by Malachi Bogdanov Draft 5 <<download>> 11


Production The Mandrake Root is produced by European Drama Network, a UK company based in rural Worcestershire. Shot on location in Sardinia, Italy, local TV production company Bencast, was enlisted as associate producers to help undertake the shoot. Funded by commercial investment once shot, completion funds were secured from UK regional film-funding agency Screen WM. European Drama Network completed the post production in Birmingham, England. The total budget was $250,000.

e Mandrake Root

Owen who plays the Priest and several of the Sardinian cast were found through audition.

The main cast rehearsed in Sassari for two weeks prior to the shoot, developing with the director a number of the physical comedy elements. The cast where able to rehearse in the actual locations, as the geography of the films layout is ‘real’ in as much as the physical spaces related to one another as they exist in the city; this can be seen in the walk by Callimaco and Siro at the start of the movie, where the master and servant follow a The Mandrake Root was shot in 14 days real route from the Dumo (Cathedral) to the between the 1st and 14th August, in Sassari, on Piazza di Comue (central square). This is a route Mediterranean island of Sardinia. The final days that could be recreated by any visitor to Sassari. shooting coinciding with the ‘I Canderlari’ The same is true of the location of sites in the festival, which has taken place in Sassari on the main square. The entrance of Nicia’s house is day before Assumption for the past 500 years. next to the Bar and the front door of Callimaco’s The movie completed its post production in the house is across the square. following June. The interiors used for the houses of both Nicia The movie is 75 minutes in length and was and Callimaco are not those seen from the filmed by Director of Photography Tony Yates outside, although as with all the locations they on a brand new Sony HD 750p camera with lens are within walking distance of the main square by Cannon, made as 16:9 in 1080 high definition where the movie was shot. The exception being at 25p. It was edited off line and online on an the garden dream sequence, which was shot at a Avid system and with the grade on an HD Avid nearby public park. Callimaco’s house interior Nitrous DS. The sound was recorded on hard were shot in a ground floor flat which was being disk and the sound design completed in Dolby rebuilt, with the basement doubling as the bar for Surround. the Mother’s drinking scene and the Priest’s vestibule. Nicia’s house interiors, together with The lead cast of seven where English, although the Paris interior, were shot in ante-rooms at the Geoffrey Bateman is based in Paris and Jason Teatro Civico, a newly restored theatre where the Nicoli is a Sardinian based in the UK, other roles opening prologue scenes are shot. including the lady and the road sweepers were Sardinian based actors. The crew was both from Originally it was intended to shoot a number of the UK and Italy, with the 1st and 2nd assistant the Priest’s scenes inside a church, however, due directors, properties masters, electrician, grip and to the subject matter and the reputation of set construction coming from Sardinia and Machiavelli it was impossible to find a church mainland Italy, where the lighting and track that would agree. Director Malachi and the equipment was sourced. A number of the lead producer Simon met with a number of church cast had previously worked with the director or leaders who all, very pleasantly, declined. Once producer although Jason Nicoli and Jonathan shooting had started it was decided to move these 13


Andrea Foddai and Mario Olivieri - the road sweepers on set 18


e Mandrake Root

scenes to the steps outside of a church a few metres from the main square, with the church itself turning a blind eye to our filming on their steps and using its entrance in one scene.

Because the two actors playing the builders were so funny it was decided to keep them in the movie but make them road sweepers. and have them speak Italian. The inaccuracies in their subtitles being both funy and reminiscent of the Normally the first two weeks of August are very Italian subtitles for Brokeback Mountain, which quiet in Sassari because its not a tousit town. the producer watched just before shooting, where Unlike the rest of the island , which on the coast in one completely silent section of the film a is busling with toursit or inland mostly closed for subtitle is inserted. the whole of August, a few of Sassari’s shops and business stay open until after the ‘I Canderlari’ The Mandrake Root post-production was festival on the 14th August. Prior to the shooting completed in the UK, with the sound design, of the movie, many of the streets of Sassari had editing and colour grade taking place in been dug up for improvements to the water and Birmingham. Prior to the final mix down, there sewage of the city’s old town. This work, which was a frantic few days where the director, began in the winter, progressed very slowly composer, producer and sound designer worked throughout the spring and summer. It was together virtually, with the music and sound decided to go ahead with the shoot and simply design bounced between Birmingham, Kent, introduce two new characters, medieval builders, Sardinia and Worcestershire through an online who would be used to explain the building work editing service operated by sound designer, Neil and add some further comedy; after all there Hillman at the Audio Suite. This allowed a very must have been a lot building work during the fast music composition, around four weeks, renaissance. However, in the two weeks leading which included a live strings session recorded at up to the festival a sudden surge in activity took Birmingham Conservatoire of Music. place. Spurred into action by the approaching ‘I Canderlari’ festival, the city’s most important An outdoor screening of the movie was event, a desperate rush to complete the building sponsored by the town’s council in Sassari, in the work began. Whilst this meant that little building square where it was shot. Over a thousand people work is seen in the movie, the disruption to the turned out to see the movie, creating a warm, shoot was immense, due to the noise of builders chaotic and strictly Cinema Paradiso experience. cutting huge granite pavement blocks and using pneumatic drills to dig up old concrete foundations. Although the builders were as considerate as possible and the city’s council The director and producer are indebted enormously helpful, especially in taking down to the people and workers of Sassari, street lamps and letting us dismantle road signs, its administration, businesses, bars it did cause a lot of difficulty in filming and most and restaurants acutely with the sound. On a few occasions when the noise became particularly intolerable and the Vorremmo ringraziare tutti gli abitanti workmen not keen to stop, Chara, who plays the di Sassari, gli addetti ai lavori pubblici, wife Luzcrezia would be despatched to ask for a il comune e tutti coloro che gestiscono few minutes quite. Being tall and blonde, a rare le varie attivita’, i restoranti e i bar della thing in Sardinian women, this often had the citta’ desired effect. 15


setting up a tracking shot in the main square 18


cast waiting to shoot the drinking 17


Cast & Crew

Directed & Screenplay by Malachi Bogdanov

Produced by Simon M Woods Associate Producers Carlo Dessì & Rosanna Castangia Director of Photography Tony Yates Nicia/The Husband Geoffrey Bateman Lucrezia/The Wife Chara Jackson Sostrata/The Mother Den Woods Callimaco/The Lover Jason Nicoli Siro/The Servant Craig Painting Ligurio/The Fixer Mike Rogers Brother Timoteo/The Priest Jonathan Owen The Actor Jonathan Owen The Lady Emanuela di Biase Road Sweeper Mario Olivieri Road Sweeper Andrea Foddai Man in Bar Tonino Usai Man in Bar Solferino Sodini Barman Vincenzo Mugoni Camillo Calfucci Luigi Cuccureddu Frenchman Maurizio Giordo Horny Priest Antonello Foddis Serving Maid Consuelo Pittalis Serving Maid Maria Grazia Deligios Serving Maid Margherita Massidda Serving Maid Fabiana Sias Choir Master Mº Vincenzo Cossu Choir Associazione Coro Polifonico Sardegna Girl with Horse Maria Laura Borgacci Folk Group ‘Citta’ di Ossi Townsfolk Rosanna Castangia Mariella Masoni Alessandro Castangia Andrea Castangia Andrea Garrucciu Alesso Pirastu Luca Saiu Mauro Aresu Carlo Dessì Animal Wrangler Paolo Ortu Production Design & Art Direction John Plush Costume Design Agnes Treplin Casting Director Caroline Funnell CDG Original Score Christopher Ash Traditional Sardinian Music Tenore san Gavino di Oniferi Brass Band Associazione Banda Musicale “Luigi Canepa” Edited Nat Higginbottom, Simon M Woods, Malachi Bogdanov Sound Designer & Re-Recording Mixer Neil Hillman MPSE On Line Editor & Grade Tony Quinsee-Jover 1st Assistant Director Gloria Mannazzu Focus Puller Mari Yamamura 2nd Assistant Camera Chris Wanklyn Sound Recording Brian Murrell Assistant Sound John Richards Gaffer Steve Guy Electrician Diego Aresu Grip Antonio Lucrezio Assistant Electrician Fabio Casu Assistant Grip Pietro Tola Dialogue & ADR Editor Damien Cullen

e Mandrake Root Music Recording Engineer Simon Hall Assistant Music Engineer Ben Schreiber Contemporary Costume & Properties Master Nadia Imperio Costume Design Assistant & Supervisor Kate Whitehead Make Up & Hair Stylist Elin Rhiannon 2nd Assistant Director Stefano Chessa Assistant Properties & Art Direction Pierluigi Avorio Production & Script Supervisor Emanuela di Biase Production Assistant & Entertainment Manager Jack Evans Production Assistant Jamie Evans Set Construction & Theatre Technician Michele Grandi Assistant Set Construction Carmelo Sisto Transport & UK Support Jacqui Findlay Initial Trailer Edit Paul Colbert Blogger Graziano Cubeddu Casting Consultant John Colclough Audio Dub The Audio Suite On Line HD Editing & Grade HD Heaven Edited Aquila TV Lighting & Grip Equipment Movie People (Italy) Live Music Recording Birmingham Conservatoire of Music Production Insurers Israel, Gordon & co Legal Services Shoosmiths, Lecote Catering Tramezzino Espresso di Consani Maria Laura & co Accommodation Hotel Grazia Deledda Locations Comune di Sasssari Dr. Gianfranco Ganau, the Meyer Dr. Andrea Oggiano, Capo di Gabinett Avv. Angela Mameli, Assessore alla Programmazione, Cultura e Spettacolo Assessorato alla Programmazione,Cultura Spettacolo Assessorato alle Manutenzioni Assessoato all’Ambiente, Ecologia, Verde Pubblico, Parchi e Giardini Sovrintendenza ai Beni monumentali Corpo dei Vigili Urbani Thanks Pier Paolo Conconi, Compagnia ‘La Botte e Il Cilindro’, Bar Ducale, Bar Al Duomo, Bel Bar, The Staff & Technicians of Teatro Civico, Tutti i Gremi di Sassari, Gestione Teatro Verdi, Marenostrum Editrice, Dr. Simone Poddighe, Luisella Conti, Arch. Sergio Ticca, Vigilanza Executive, Antonio Cossu WWF Sassari, Produced by european drama network Associate Production (Italy) Bencast Associate Producers Screen WM

Made with the support of the European Regional Development Fund and Advantage West Midlands through Screen WM

© The Mandrake Root Ltd (UK) 2008

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The Mandrake Root Cast Profiles Den Woods & Chara Jackson The two lead actresses in The Mandrake Root had never worked together, but coincidentally both trained at Birmingham School of Acting, although some years apart. Chara Jackson who plays the wife Lucrezia graduated in 2006 from a three year degree course and Sostrata, her mother, played by Den Woods graduated from a Post Graduate course in 1995. Den Woods had a lot more professional film making experience than Chara before making The Mandrake Root, however as trained actors both had the necessary skills and crucially the flexibility to adapt to a method of film acting that has roots in a more theatrical, European methodology. The whole cast rehearsed in Sardinia for two weeks immediately prior the film shoot. A working method that allowed the cast and director to develop the script in a way similar to a theatre production, with the final shooting script being produced only days before the shoot began. This put enormous pressure on the design team but gave the actors a much greater level of involvement in the process of making the movie. Creating a very supportive atmosphere amongst the cast and crew.

Chara Jackson on set keeping out of the sun 20

It was during these rehearsals that the idea developed of Den’s character drinking a hangover cure of three raw eggs. The cinematic trick was that it had to filmed in a single take, with no edits or trick footage.

Den Woods shooting the Hangover scene

Den attended BSA at the same time as Jimi Mistry (The Guru, East is East, Blood Diamond). Since graduating she has been in the BAFTA winning short film ‘Brown Paper Bag’, the Royal Television Society winning drama ‘The Man Who Wouldn’t Paint Hitler’ and films including ‘Special People’. She has also worked extensively in theatre, ranging from festivals of new writing to Mike Leigh’s ‘Ecstasy’ to five separate productions and tours of ‘Go Play Up Your Own End’ and ‘A League Apart’. Chara got her first professional role the week she graduated from BSA in 2006, performing in ‘From Ithaca With Love’. Directed by Malachi Bogdanov and commissioned as part of the New Generation Arts Festival. Since then she has worked on stage including ‘The Lover’ by Harold Pinter and this year she again worked with Malachi when he workshopped a horror film script ‘Limehouse Golam’.


King John 1899 Beerbohm-Tree

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CELLULOID SHAKESPEARE

CELLULOID SHAKESPEARE... Film critic Mike Davies takes a look at the history of the Bard on the big screen Whenever a new adaptation of Shakespeare comes along, you can pretty much guarantee that the director will say something along the lines of,if Shakespeare were around today he’d be a screenwriter. Conversely, there have been several TV comedy sketches pointing up that if our William were to pitch any of his plots: Romeo & Juliet, two teen lovers are torn apart, they die; Hamlet, brooding ditherer can’t decide whether to kill his uncle, they all die, to Hollywood, he’d be out on his ear. But, the fact is, despite being almost 400 years dead, the Stratford lad’s by far the most successful author of all time when it comes to screen adaptations. At the last count, there were over 420 feature length films of his plays, far more if you include TV versions, with always more adding to the list. And they stretch back to before the last century. As far as I can ascertain, the first filmed Shakespeare was, ironically enough, the authorship disputed King John. Made in 1899 it starred British actor Herbert Beerbohm-Tree It was also his directorial debut. Actually it was the only film he directed, his talents

obviously more inclined to the other side of the camera, since he went on to play Wolsey in the 1911 film of Henry VIII (directed by William Barker) and Macbeth for the American director John Emerson (who appears to have claimed sole writing credit) in 1915. Whether King John was a box office hit or not, the next ten years were a boom time for Shakespeare, the new century getting underway in suitably bizarre fashion with a French production of Hamlet starring the formidably eccentric actress Sarah Bernhardt in the title role. Hamlet seems to have been quite a favourite 23


Macbeth 1948 Orson Welles

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CELLULOID SHAKESPEARE

with the French, other film versions appearing in 1907, 1909 and 1910, while Italy, Denmark and Germany had all contributed their interpretations by 1922. It was William Barker who provided the UK film industry’s first encounter with the melancholic Dane in 1910, though Hay Plumb’s 1913 British production rivals the Bernhardt casting for eccentricity with its recreation of the theatrical version starring Johnston Forbes-Robertson. While hailed as the supreme Hamlet of his time, fact was the actor was then 60, almost twice the age of his character, and considerably older than either Gertrude or Claudius. Predictably, Shakespeare’s greatest play is also the most filmed. Filmographies list some 26 different versions, ranging across the decades from the previously noted to the likes of Tony Richardson’s 1969 version, filmed entirely at the Round House with the emphasis on close ups and Zeffirelli’s 1990 box office hit with an unexpectedly good, if curly, Mel Gibson and Helena Bonham Carter providing the best screen Ophelia yet. The most eccentric though must surely be that of Celestino Coronado who, for his camp avant garde 1976 British film, all 67 concise minutes of it, had Hamlet played by twins Anthony and David Meyer (opposite Helen Mirren’s Opehlia and Gertrude) and Polonius by Quentin Crisp. Clearly an idiosyncratic

talent, he went on to make a gay version of A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Lindsey Kemp as Puck. Although perhaps the greatest screen Hamlet is that of Russian director Gregory Kozintsev, whose brooding megalithic black and white vision encompasses a ghost with a billowing black cloak and Ophelia first seen as a marionette, in terms of popular cinema it’s generally agreed that, for all its faults, Kenneth Branagh’s four hour epic is the best and definitive version. But Shakespeare is about more than Hamlet. And at one time or another, almost all of the plays have seen some sort of cinematic life. Even ten of the Sonnets were filmed, in 1972, as a silent interplay between a man and his lover. Like Romeo & Juliet spawning West Side Story, Macbeth, with its plot of murder and revenge, has understandably fuelled many an interpretation, not to mention adaptations based upon it. Orson Welles famously directed and starred in 1948 while more recently Jason Connery turned up in a low budget, but rather good version (with Helen Baxendale a superb lady Macbeth), but, for me at least by far the best (unless you take into account Kurosawa’s Japanese interpretation, Throne Of Blood) has been Polanski’s 1971 Playboy produced version with Jon Finch in the title role and the emphasis firmly on black magic and blood. 25


Between the start of the 30s and the end of the 60s, Shakespeare was a favourite box office turn, films ranging from the small and intimate to the lavish and spectacular, from obscure forgotten gems to legendary classics. A brief flick through the filmography reveals a fascinatingly diverse array. From the 1929 silent A Midsummer Night’s Dream with Mary Pickford and Douglas Fairbanks to Max Rheinhardt’s 1935 romp with Jimmy Cagney having the time of his life as Bottom. From George Cukor’s polite and decorous 1936 Romeo & Juliet with Leslie Howard, John Barrymore and Basil Rathbone to Zeffirelli’s controversial (bed scenes!) 1968 opulence with a pubescent Leonard Whiting and Olivia Hussey as 26

the doomed lovers. And from Charlton Heston (1950 and again in 1970) as Antony in Julius Caesar to Marlon Brando (1950) in the same role. And, just to point up the contrast of production values, on the one hand there was Orson Welles in 1951 making Othello on the hoof, famously setting a scene in a Turkish bath when the costumes didn’t arrive and turning the multiplicity of locations into montage sequences, while on the other, there was Zeffirelli (something of a Shakespeare veteran) spending millions upon millions for his Taming Of the Shrew, only to have Burton and Taylor‘s fiery relationship eclipse the film itself. However, throughout the 70s


and 80s, Shakespeare became box office poison. There were attempts to revive interest, such as Derek Jarman’s idiosyncratic Tempest with Toyah Wilcox baring her breasts and Caliban as an Edwardian butler, and Jean-Luc Godard’s archly pretentious King Lear (as with his Hamlet, Kozintsev’s is a masterpiece), but these tended to be either excruciatingly dull or extreme speciality fare, certainly not for the mainstream audiences. Ironically, the reason for Shakespeare’s sudden lack of popularity lies almost totally with the man who, for some four decades was synonymous with Shakespeare on screen. Laurence Olivier made his Shakespeare film debut in 1936 with As You Like It (co-

scripted by JM Barrie), and, until recently, it was impossible to think of Shakespeare cinema without thinking of his hunchbacked Richard III or his Henry V delivering his St Crispin speech as a morale boost to 1944 war torn Great Britain. But for a new audience, born in either the rock n roll 50s or liberated 60s, a whiteshirted Hamlet or a blacked-up Othello, with mannered theatrical delivery that seemed unable to understand the difference between playing to a camera and playing to the gallery, had no relevance or contemporary spirit. Olivier’s Shakespeare had nothing to say to a modern world. It would not be until 1989 that the Bard’s ability to speak to all 27


Romeo & Juliet 1936 Geiorge Cukor


generations and all times would be realised once again. And, again ironically, by the very man dubbed the new Olivier; Kenneth Branagh. It was surely no coincidence, that his statement of intent to bring Shakespeare back to the masses, was announced with a remake of Henry V. Now, given a firmly post-Falklands anti-war message and with language delivered in modern rhythms and cadence. In the one long tracking shot, as Henry carries a dead boy across the field after Agincourt, Branagh put Shakespeare back on the movie making agenda as a writer of great action scenes, of sparkling comedy and of great insights into the human condition. The floodgates began to open. 1990 brought Zeffirelli’s Hamlet, in 1993 Branagh was back with Much Ado About Nothing, taking a cue from Zeffirelli’s clever Hollywood star casting by bringing in Denzel Washington and Keanu Reeves. In 1995 Branagh returned, this time in front of the camera for Oliver Parker’s Othello (complete with added flashbacks and sex scenes), playing a quite brilliant Iago opposite Laurence Fishbourne’s Moor, while the same year Richard Loncraine delivered Richard III, a superlative recreation of the Ian McKellen stage play, given a dawn of WWII setting with McKellen providing one of the greatest performance of his career as a Hitler-like tyrant winking

complicity to the audience. And the following year Trevor Nunn offered his contribution with a masterful Twelfth Night, distinguished by Nigel Hawthorne’s Malvolio and Imogen Stubb’s Viola. There were misfires, such as Christine Edzard’s stultifying modern dress As You Like It, set on an urban wasteland, and Adrian Noble’s misguided attempt to recapture the magic of his stage production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream by letting the sets and effects overshadow the cast and introducing a schoolboy as the play’s audience, but Shakespeare was clearly back in favour with Hollywood and audiences. However, it was also clear that there was one audience to whom Shakespeare was not speaking. A very important one in box office terms. Youth. And then came Baz Luhrmann, and William Shaksepeare’s Romeo & Juliet. “The reason a work like this survives 400 years of time and geography, is that it can’t help but be relevant,” said Luhrmann. “The genius of Shakespeare is that he understood like no-one else human nature. Through him and the film, I wanted to make the point that it’s the incumbent generation, the controlling generation, which teaches the incoming generation to hate. That could be because of someone’s name, or their skin colour or their sexuality. Throughout the ages, with that 29


Henry V 1944 Laurence Olivier


CELLULOID SHAKESPEARE

sort of belief system, you’re always going to end up with a tragedy. That’s why a story like Romeo And Juliet is still so relevant today.” And to ensure that relevance came across. Luhrmann threw the MTV kitchen sink at his film. It was, he said, the way Shakespeare himself would have done it had he been directing it today. “He was a rambunctious, sexy, violent, entertaining storyteller and it’s an absolute fact that he would have been playing to an audience of about 300 drunk punters. So, it was very direct entertainment in order to draw people in and to communicate in the most dynamic way. Shakespeare’s assets were low comedy, high tragedy, music, spectacular stage devices, in fact anything he could get his hands on.” What Luhrmann got his hands on was a whole heap of pop culture references, from spaghetti westerns to CNN newscasts to disco drag acts. To which he added a soundtrack of pop hits. And, the coup de grace, Leonardo DiCaprio as Romeo and Claire Danes as Juliet. Youth speaking to youth about youth. The purists might have had apoplexy, but nothing had even communicated Shakespeare to a young audience like this. Shakespeare was cool. He was hip. He was relevant. The impact hasn’t been lost. Shakespeare In Love may be an intellectual Carry On rich

with academic in jokes, but from casting and rhythm to jokes and ingenious feelgood ending, it knew how to hook a young audience. If Luhrmann made Shakespeare’s plays sexy again. John Madden made the man himself a pop pin-up, a jack the lad with whom teens behaving badly could identify. And it doesn’t stop there. Having announced his intentions of filming every one of the plays, Branagh’s so far ticked off Love’s Labours Lost (done as a 40s musical) and a Japanese set As You Like It. Away from the Branagh franchise, just a quick flick across the list from the past decade throws up no less than 13 reworks or adaptations of Macbeth, including one set in Australia’s gangland culture and another in Germany’s rave scene. Plus there’s two more in production as I write. Then there’s versions of Titus Andronicus from Christopher Dunne and Julie Taymor (whose previous film was a 1986 version of The Tempest), half a dozen Hamlets, Al Pacino in The Merchant of Venice, and a Measure For Measure set in the British army. And, let’s not forget such inspired high school reimaginings as 10 Things I Hate About You’s modern version of Taming of the Shrew, and director Tim Blake Nelson’s 2001 gem O which reworked Othello as a basketball movie! A look at the production slate for 2009 shows no sign of things slowing down. There’s 31


George Cukor directing Romeo & Juliet in 1936. Produced by the legendary Irvine Thalberg (the boy wonder) who was married to its star Norma Shearer and who died aged 37 on the day of it premierer.


CELLULOID SHAKESPEARE

no less than three takes on Macbeth, an uncut version of The Merchant Of Venice by Douglas Morse, Julie Taymor’s second stab at The Tempest (a gender revised version with Helen Mirren as Prospera), a King Lear with Keira Knightley, Anthony Hopkins and Gwyneth Paltrow, The Winter’s Tale, and even a Timon Of Athens set in contemporary San Francisco. There’s three new retellings of Romeo and Juliet. One will star Eddie Murphy, one is Gnomeo & Juliet, an animated version about warring gnomes, and one is Romeo & Juliet vs The Living Dead with recasts the entire thing with Romeo as a Verona zombie! Proof, were it needed, that Shakespeare can be applied to almost any situation you care to name and

still have something to say to an audience of any age or culture. As Lurhmann says, “Shakespeare is just a whole lot of great stories. It’s just that it’s told in a funny language.” However, there’s still one thing no-one’s been able to figure out how to do. As one producer, who remains nameless, is reported to have enquired after seeing the success of the Zeffirelli movie, “what’s the chance of a sequel?” Now, if William Shakespeare really was a screenwriter today, I’m sure he’d figure out a way. He knew about box office. Mike Davies Mike Davies is a film and music critic based in Birmingham, England and writes for a number of national and regional newspapers, magazines and broadcasters.

Romeo & Juliet 1936 George Cukor

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Scoring the Renaissance Composer Chris Ash wrote and recorded the music for The Mandrake Root in six weeks, liaising from his home in Kent with director Malachi Bogdanov in Sardinia, producer Simon M Woods in Worcestershire and sound designer Neil Hillman in Birmingham via uploaded clips on the internet.

It all began with an excerpt from Vivaldi’s Concerto for Mandolin in C (RV425). In putting together a trailer for their debut feature The Mandrake Root – European Drama Network had used two clips of music to underscore the montage of scenes which would distil the entire movie into a few minutes. The first piece of music was a macabre violin waltz, which seemed to suggest something magical about this mysterious root. The second was the clean, refined and ever so slightly rustic Allegro from the aforementioned concerto. As a composer I often find, when beginning work on a piece that there will be certain clues to follow up. These two clips were my clues as to how the musical score to The Mandrake Root might take shape. As it happened, the Vivaldi piece was not a subtle clue: Malachi (director), Simon (producer) and I were confidently agreed that the airy, light texture of the strings, mandolin and their instantly Italianate sound, would provide a perfect backdrop and musical sound world for the film. Of course, Vivaldi was a good century and a half Machiavelli’s senior, but music in drama is primarily employed to illuminate and draw into focus the emotional journeys of the characters. Furthermore, I found great expression in interpreting Vivaldi and various baroque and renaissance musical fingerprints through my distinctly 21st century ears, as have Karl Jenkins and Michael Nyman to take two famous examples. The spotting session quickly confirmed which moments would need music; where to drive the plot forward and where to dwell in the dilemmas and emotions of the characters. I

quickly began sketching out mock-ups of each music cue, ready for audition by the director and producer. A theme immediately presented itself to me whilst toying with ideas to underscore the opening prologue (narrated by Jonathan Owen): a simple, innocent solo mandolin air in triple time. It seemed to offer a glimpse of the genuine wishes, hopes and longings of the respective characters: to have a lover, to have a child, and so on. This theme would go on to become a motif; a main theme for the whole film. As post-production progressed and the recording deadline approached Malachi attended a concert by a traditional Sardinian vocal group, Gli Tenori di Oniferi and suggested we use something by them. Having used the beautiful backdrop of Sassari to set the film, it was a wonderful opportunity to have its traditional music feature alongside the score. In one particular cue underscoring a dream sequence, I was experimenting with a lush, reverberant string sound, echoing earlier themes as Callimaco fantasized about his Lucrezia. I happened to have one of the tenors’ tracks playing at the same time and noticed how well the two sounds merged. Before long, I had created an accompaniment for the tenors’ a cappella vocal using these dream strings, featuring snatches of the main theme. This intermixed piece with its otherworldly vocal intonations and dreamlike strings, fulfils the role of the original waltz music in the trailer, alluding to the mysterious and magical quality of what the mandrake root stands for: how fate and the more base desires and machinations of men could interact and bring about a greater good for all. Chris Ash


Scoring the Renaissance

opening scenes underscored by the main musical motif

dream sequence underscored by traditional Sardinian vocal harmony and additional strings

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Jonathan Owen as Timeto - the preist


A Postmodern Machiavelli

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A Postmodern Machiavelli

Truth, reality and the creative philosophy of The Mandrake Root

Producer Simon M Woods and the making of e Mandrake Root

Despite its period setting and the story staying close to the original stage play written in 1518, The Mandrake Root is a modern film. Having the characters talk directly to camera and using the camera frame as a comic device, it reveals its artifice as film, a story, a performance. This could be presented as a postmodern philosophical exercise, but the director’s motive is more prosaic. It is a natural extension of live theatre work Director, Malachi Bogdanov. His creative aesthetic is postmodern, but it is an unconscious postmodernism rooted in theatrical traditions and contemporary culture, rather than philosophical debate. Malachi Bogdanov trained in Paris in the early 1980’s with Jacque Lecoq. An influential teacher and performer, Lecoq was central to the development of modern european physical theatre and a leading figure in the post-war renewal of commedia dell’Arte, the 16th century masked street theatre which originated in Italy, in Venice and Padua. Lecoq and the heightened dramatic form of physical theatre is a key influence on Bogdanov’s work. Unlike Stanislavski’s naturalism which is the prevalent acting style in UK drama schools or The Method which is predominant in the USA, Bogdanov’s theatre productions rarely seek to convince you, the audience, to believe what you are seeing is real life in a real world. This doesn’t mean that reality, truth or real emotions are not present or presented. His productions are able to convey truthful emotions that are as powerful as those delivered through

dramatic forms that strive for more naturalistic portrayals of the world. Bogdanov’s stage aesthetic transferred to film makes The Mandrake Root an unusual movie, because it breaks the fourth wall, the divide between audience and actor. The characters talk directly to camera and you, the audience, and you are made aware that this is a performance, an artifice. You are not asked to suspend your disbelief and believe it is a real world, except to the extent necessary to enjoy the story. This is The Mandrake Root’s truth and by breaking the fourth wall this truth is made explicit. An actor talking to an audience was once common in theatre, voiceover is a similar device and often used in modern film. When it is used a film usually seeks to retain its reality. This is why talking direct to the camera is less common than voiceover, because it breaks the fourth 37


wall and undermines a films reality. The Mandrake Root opens with a prologue, spoken direct to the audience, as was the case when the play was performed in Machiavelli’s lifetime. In film the voiceover is a pervasive device and delivering the prologue as a voiceover would of have made the opening of The Mandrake Root unremarkable. Whereas delivering it as theatre in a theatre, makes explicit the link between its origins as a play, its adaptation as a film and the theatricality of what you are about to witness. Initially it was conceived that the opening of the film would transform in a single shot from the present day to 1504. A barman in a modern day cafe delivering the speech with the camera tracking from a scene of the lead actors leaving a church into the bar and when the speech finishes pulling back out into the street now transformed to the 16th century. This is a commonly used filmic device, often in folksy TV period dramas, but it would have reinforced the ‘reality’ of the film as artifice. Ultimately it proved too 38

problematic, expensive and beyond the capacity of a production which was shot in 14 days with a small crew. Some of the linking ideas were filmed and this accounts for the films rather strange ending, where the husband and wife appear coming out of the Dumo (cathedral) in modern dress at a christening, a scene that was meant to link with a scene at the start of the film that was cut. The original end, some of which was shot, was to be scenes of the cast in modern dress in the crowds during the ‘I Canderlari’ festival in Sassari, Sardinia, where the film was shot. This festival has taken place in Sassari on the day before Assumption, the 14th August, for 500 years, and coincided with the final day of shooting. Bringing the story back to the modern day at the end of the film helps reinforce its artifice as theatre. In both theatre and film it is us, the audience who suspend our disbelief and believe in what we are seeing is ‘real’ even though we know it isn’t. In theatre the suspension is tangible and you cannot fail to be aware that what is presented is


not real, particularly as symbolism and metaphor are often used in favour of naturalistic reality. Despite early cinema, even mainstream Hollywood, readily embracing symbolism and metaphor. Contemporary mainstream film is now dominated by traditional approaches to reality, particularly in the UK and mainstream Hollywood. Most modern films don’t question the reality of the world they inhabit. They seek to convince us that the camera is simply dropping in on a naturalistic ‘real’ world that exists beyond the camera frame, however fantastical. Perhaps, the use of symbolism and metaphor in early cinema was due to its roots in silent film, which more easily embraced symbolic representations of the world or because audiences and producers had a closer affinity to theatre as the basis of narrative drama. Prehaps they were just more prepared to take risks. In playing with the reality of film The Mandrake Root is not new or revolutionary. The playing or questioning of a film’s reality has been undertaken

many times, by many directors, from Buñuel to Hitchcock and Truffaut to Tarantino. For some it is a consequence of a creative drive, while for others, most notably the French New Wave it also has an academic basis. It takes many forms. From the use of amateurs rather than trained actors by Passolini in The Gospel According to St Matthew, Decameron or Arabian Nights to Tarantino’s playing with possibilities of the film in Kill Bill, where he mixes naturalism with animation, comic book styles and back-projection. The Dogma group’s manifesto deconstructed the artifice of film drama by not using lighting or lighting effects, not buying or making costumes and props, as in Lars Von Tiers’s Festen and The Idiots. It is also true of the French Nouvelle Vague, the New Wave films of the 1950’s and 60’s, such as those by Truffaut and Godard. Lars Von Tiers pushes the deconstruction of reality through the Dogma manifesto further in Dogville and Manderlay; (Geoffrey Bateman who play Nicia in The Mandrake Root also appears in 39


Manderlay). These two films are shot inside a studio, with the lights visible and the set clearly theatrical in construction. The walls and doors are ‘acted’ or only indicated by drawn lines, rather than a physical presence. However these theatrical sets could be considered more real than the worlds represented by many ‘realistic’ films. They make no pretence that they are made on a movie set, but it is a ‘real’ movie set. This is reality. For actors in films which present more realistic worlds, whether naturalistic or fantastical, Dogville has a greater reality. It is a set, just like the sets on which they act. Stage constructions of interiors, which from the outside look llike Dogville, but inside and what the audience sees, seem ‘real’, are essentially shells of reality requiring enormous talent, energy and money to make them seem like real world environments. When edited with ‘real’ exteriors these shells appear as real as the real world and to some extent are real. The French Nouvelle Vague films were also concerned with the truth of filmmaking but from a more academic 40

starting point of film criticism. The critic André Bazin, a co-founder of the influential magazine Cahiers du cinéma wrote that ‘the screen has no backstage’ unlike theatre. However, the Nouvelle Vague were still playing with the truth, artifice and reality of film. This is well described by Adam Thirlwell (Guardian 18.04.09) in his excellent article, where he quotes a Bazin essay on ‘Theatre and Cinema’: “…when a character leaves the screen, we believe in his continued existence as a character. When he leaves a stage we know he becomes a man who was playing a part. Therefore, all cinema is documentary, even fictional films. The language of cinema is coextensive with life. Jean Renior, after all, had said: “In La regal du jeu, I didn’t film that role, I filmed Marcel Dalio playing that role”. With Bazin as his mentor Godard went further, describing Á bout de soufflé (Breatheless) as a documentary on Jean Seberg and Jean-Paul Belmondo in a film by Jean-Luc Godard. Thitlwell expands on this theme, describing how Charles Aznavour, in bed with a girl in Truffaut’s Tirez sur le pianiste, holds up a sheet to cover his co


star when she sits up and exposes her breasts and says, “you know in cinema it would be like this”, or in Une femme est une femme, where a character interrupts his argument with another, turns to camera and says “I don’t know if it’s a comedy or a tragedy. In any case it’s a masterpiece.” Whilst these fictional films adopt a documentary style and presence, almost ultra real, they recognise their reality as artifice because they are in effect documentaries of movies being made as movies. Demythologising the myth and artifice of film and creating a new mythology. Against this academic philosophising about cinema must be balanced the admiration of Truffaut and Godard for Hollywood and the films of Hitchcock and others. Malachi Bogdanov’s directorial style is not informed by either a manifesto, as with Dogma or an intellectual critic, as with Nouvelle Vague. Bogdanov shares a commonality with other theatre companies and directors who have links

with Lecoq and modern european physical theatre. His aesthetic is directly rooted in a european theatricality which is both contemporary, based in popular culture and ancient through theatrical traditions. The original play of The Mandrake Root shares a commonality with the stock characters of commedia dell’Arte, despite being written in approximately 1518, a little earlier than the date normally ascribed to the beginning of commedia. In film a clear link exists between Europe and Hollywood. Triers, Truffaut and Godard et al, admired Hollywood and US cinema, and the influence is two way. Martin Scorsese in his autobiography discusses the impact of european cinema of the 1950’s and 60’s on his own early work. Like the influence of european cinema on Scorsese, Bogdanov’s theatre productions are influenced by mainstream cinema and he often makes reference to film. His play ‘Bill Shakespeare’s Italian Job’ (2004), is the story of the iconic 1960’s English heist movie played out through the words and 41


The I Candelieri Festival


characters of Shakespeare. In ‘Macbeth: Kill Bill Shakespeare’ (2005), the Scottish play is adapted through the lens of Tarantino’s Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill’s and ‘From Ithaca With Love’ (2006), a modern retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey, borrows an iconography from British spy films of the 60’s and 70’s. The decision to retain the theatrical roots of The Mandrake Root and to actively establish its reality as a film, had a series of impact on its production, the biggest being the decision to relocate the story from Florence to Sassari on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Machiavelli is famously linked to the Florentine city state and the original play is set there, although Machiavelli makes it clear in the prologue that it could be set anywhere. Setting the film in Florence, but shooting it in Sassari, adding footage of Florence in the opening, and closing scenes would have been the more commercial decision. In film place and location can be a transitional concept and shooting one location for another is often used to overcome both cost or to enhance the design. Making explicit the link between Machiavelli and Florence would help validate the film by giving it an authenticity for the mainly literal thinking film distributors, TV broadcasters and media. Locating the film in Sassari because it was shot in Sassari, the director’s adopted home town, was a conscious decision to move away from period drama as ‘heritage’ and as the production progressed a sense of place became increasingly important. This is a play performed for the screen, made in Sardinia with no pretence of it being something or somewhere else. This sense of place was enhanced through a decision to make the actual locations in relationship to one another ‘real’, as in a

A Postmodern Machiavelli

stage set. The route around the Dumo taken by Callimaco and Siro at the beginning of the film exits, it can be retraced by any visitor to Sassari. Like a stage set, the location of the bar and the houses of Nicia and Callimaco are in real relationship to one another in the square where the majority of the film was shot. The interiors are not the actual buildings but all were filmed within walking distance. The film doesn’t aim for great period authentication. It is not a historical artefact, and for a scholar the locations would not stand up to scrutiny, with buildings dating from the 13th to the 20th Century. The intention is that the film feels in period, but contemporary in nature. The costumes are representative of the period but are in no way consistent. It is fully appreciated that the cod piece was not worn until after 1530. The acting is modern and heightened and does not seek to adopt a ‘period’ drama convention prevalent in some British and American productions, although it is recognised that there are many examples of exemplary contemporised acting and directing in mainstream period TV and film productions, such as the HBO series ‘John Adams’. Considering The Mandrake Root within a Postmodern theory is interesting for some, but for the viewer simply seeking comedy, it does the film a diservice. For all this discussion of artifice and truth it is simply a bawdy, comic and slapstick tale. It has no pretence of intellectual depth, despite being written by the most famous of political philosophers. There are clues to be found in the play about Renaissance thinking and Machiavelli’s thoughts about the church and power, but ultimately it is a comedy he wrote to make money. The Mandrake Root is a film that isn’t pretending to be something other than what it is, a simple story, comically told. It is film of a play performed by actors and that is it truth and reality. 43


La Cavalcata - Sassari, Sardinia


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Sassari and Sardinia

Sassari and Sardinia We left England in April driving over the Alps to Livorno and the ferry to the Italian Mediterranean island of Sardinia with the idea of either raising the investment to make a movie of The Mandrake Root or just stay a couple of months having failed. In the end we stayed six months and shot the film. Why Sassari? Why Sardinia? My wife and I had been to Sassari on a number of occasions in the previous fives years, ever since director Malachi Bogdanov moved there from Padua. Sardinia is mysterious and ancient land, a magical environment both to live and make movies. The culture and atmosphere is intense and at times intoxicating. Having eventually raised the finance The Mandrake Root was planned, rehearsed and shot in a frantic six week period, entirely on location in Sassari, Sardinia’s second largest city. It was shot in the old town around the Piazza Comune, where the council offices are located, and the Dumo, the city’s cathedral. Built on the side of a hill, the old town is a maze of narrow streets, small squares, apartments and shops. Full of people and life these narrow streets are also used by cars, on occasions requiring pedestrians to doge into doorways as the traffic passes. One reason for the island’s intense culture is the successive waves of influence, first as an ancient trading route and then through invasion beginning with the Carthaginians, Romans and since medieval times by

French, Italian and Spanish city states. This eclectic cultural mix is reflected in the costumes worn at the Cavalcata Sarda, one of Sassari’s two principal festivals that begins with a parade of the diverse traditional dress worn by different villages across the island. The styles and influences ranging from its dark and Neolithic roots through to medieval Europe and North Africa. The other main festival is the I Candelieri, dating back over 500 years. Also features members of the town’s guilds in ceremonial dress. Seeing people young and old in folk or traditional; dress is not an uncommon site at any time of year. During the weeks leading up to the festival the narrow streets of the old town resonate to the banging of drums and the practicing of young men carrying mini Canderlieri, replicas of the large ‘candlesticks’, which are toured though the town during the parade. As is common at any event in Sassari together with numerous brass bands made of members of all ages and sexes. An ancient land, Sardinia is dotted with over 7,000 Nuraghi, buildings dating from 1500BC, but there are much earlier traces of human activity starting with the stone age and later settlements dating from the Neolithic period of 6000BC. One of the largest Nuraghe is the Santu Antine, an imposing three storey palace located in the North West of the island close to Sassari. Sardinia is magical, its people are generous, polite, welcoming and fun. Simon Woods 45


La Cavalcata Originally held in honour of the Spanish kings who ruled Sassari it takes place in the city on Ascension Day. The festival attracts hundreds of participants in the diverse and mystic costumes of the villages in the Sassari region and beyond. A parade is followed by displays of horsemanship and then two nights of singing and dancing by groups from the villages, each with their own costumes, singing and dancing styles, many featuring the close harmony style featured at the beginning of The Mandrake Root. 46


Sassari and Sardinia

I Candelieri A loud and noisy all night festival held on the 14th August, the day before Assumption, the festival has taken place since the 16th century and held to celebrate the mysterious abating of a plague in Sassari, after the residents prayed to the Madonna. Members of the medieval guilds of artisans and labourers carry giant candlesticks through the city, stopping at the Teatro Civico where they deliver their verdict on the mayor and local politicians, who then follow the parade through the crowds eventually reaching the church of Santa Maria di Bethlem late in the night, where a service is held. 47


Costumes from a village of the interior of Sardinia at the La Cavalcata festival 48


A young Sassari man at the I Candelieri festival 49


Sassari and Sardinia

The old Town - Sassari the location for The Mandrake Root 51


Sassari and Sardinia

Nuraghe - Santu Antine one of the thousands of ancient and mysterious sites on the island of Sardinia 53


People We Like portraits L to R from top row: Euripides, Valle-Inclan, Goldoni, Molliere, Wycliffe, Dante, Marlowe, Homer, Chekov


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forthcoming productions

forthcoming productions european drama network is dedicated to making movies of classic plays and texts, with a creativity more like a theatre company than film company. It aims to make four movies a year that remain faithful to the original texts, but play with the settings and take risks with the interpretations. We are not looking to court the mass market, put together star casts or court media gossip. We want to make work that reflects the dynamic creativity of our collaborators and pushes boundaries, whilst bringing classic plays and texts to a wider audience. Our next productions are at varying states of development, we like to keep the creativity fresh with shorter and more intense production schedules than has become common in the modern film business. The movies also have varying ‘micro’ budgets from $200,000 to $800,000.

A Servant of Two Masters by Goldoni Written in 1743 this comedy uses the conventions and characters of commedia dell’arte for which Goldoni is famous. Plot Beatrice disguised as her dead brother, Federigo, travels from her home in Turin to Venice where she interrupts the engagement of Clarice to Silvo, Beatrice hoping to collect the dowry her brother would have collected had he married Clarice. She wants the money to help her lover Florindo who is now on the run having killed her brother in duel defending her honour. Clarice, who had never met Federigo, is in love with Silvo and is devastated at the news that her former fiancée, is not dead, and more worryingly that her father can see the advantage of marriage to Federigo. Beatrice is accompanied by a servant Truffaldino, who is inadvertently also hired by Florindo, who is unaware of Beatrice’s presence in the city. Truffaldino calculates that he can indeed serve two masters and profit from the arrangement, without the other knowing … the comedy unfolds. Treatment Performed in a modern physical theatre style the movie will be set in the present and shot partily in Venice, the Ventian Hotel in Las Vegas, Venice Beach in Calfornia and Sassari in Sardinia. Also backgrounds shot in all three Venice locations will be use on blue screen, in front of which the actors will perform to play with the real and the unreal settings... and the comedy of movie making begins. 55


Trojan Women by Euripides A tragedy written in 415BC this treatment is heavily influenced by a theatre production directed by John Doyle in Birmingham in 1998. (Tony Award winner for Sweeny Todd) Plot Following the fall of Troy the women of the city are held captive by the greeks and are destined to a life of slavery. Treatment Set in the 20th century but at an unspecified date that could be anytime between the 1920â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and 1990â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s. A group of women, in evening dresses and the remnants of a wealthy life found living amongst the post apocalyptic debris of a fallen culture, not of building rubble but books, art and music, kept guard by an authoritarian regime. 56


Divine Words by Valle-Inclán

A comedy written in the 1920’s with themes of religious hypocrisy.

Plot A seriously disabled boy is left at the mercy of his squabbling relatives, all of whom are keen to use him to earn money as a sacred totem at religious festivals.

Inferno by Dante The first part of Dante’s 14th century poem depicting hell as nine circles of suffering. Reinterpreted as a gangster movie, with the ice cold centre of hell as the ‘paradise’ of the Costa Smeralda’, the playground of the super rich on the east coast of Sardinia. 57


from epic poem to play & movie Based on the epic poem The Odyssey by Homer, ‘From Ithaca With Love’, is a modern retelling the story of Odysseus based on a site specific live theatre production, performed in Birmingham, England in 2006, adapted and directed by Malachi Bogdanov and produced by Simon M Woods. 58

Although written over 2500 year ago, sometime in 700BC, The Odyssey has a deep resonance with contemporary audiences, many of its characters and events form part of a common and understood European heritage: the Trojan Horse, the Sirens, the Cyclops, Calypso ….


The Odyssey is a text that originates from an oral tradition of storytelling rather than theatre, unlike the poem, this movie is a comedy although it retains the essential elements of the text, its core truths and the storyâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s structure Like the stage version, the movie will be a fast moving black comedy with a modern classical soundtrack. Full of action and contemporary language and drawing upon the iconography of the secret agent genre of the 1960â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s and 1970â&#x20AC;&#x2122;s, but remaining faithful to the original story in both its structure and characterisations

and in doing so will be recognizable to a classical scholar. It will be shot in HD entirely on location in Sardinia, Greece and the UK with music originally composed for the live production by Greek composer and rising international concert pianist, George EmmanuelLazaridis. 59


From Ithaca With Love

the play From Ithaca With Love was performed as Directed and adapted by Malachi in the atrium of Millennium Point in Bogdanov, produced by Simon M Woods Birmingham, England in 2006. An and designed by Bruce French, who put ambitious project it required the blacking together a deceptively simple revolving out of the glass roof of the five storey set. The music was composed by building, which houses an IMAX cinema, internationally renowned concert pianist University departments and offices. George Emmanuel-Lazaridis and lighting Featuring a speed boat, Lotus Elite car by Lars Thies. and utilising the buildings two storey escalator and lifts. The making of the Cast: production was documented by the BBC Stephen Eliot-McDonald, Stine HustedKleist, Matt O’Leary, Chara Jackson, in two short videos <<BBC website>>. Matt Rozier, Hester Ruoff, Sonia Saville, Leah Shan, Frank Doody, Dean Finlan,

the treatment The Odyssey is the “sequel” to The Iliad, one of the earliest surviving works in Western literature. Essentially a road movie, this epic poem is not out of place in a contemporary movie genre. The story of The Odyssey is highly visual, full of metaphor, with engaging characters, excitement, tension, intrigue, betrayal, lust, comedy, it is quite simply filmic. Odysseus, the poem’s name in Greek means simply “the story of Odysseus.” The word ‘odyssey’ that derives from this name has come to mean any significant and difficult journey. Although the poem is about one particular man’s journey at a point in a far off mythical history, it could be about anyone and has the ability to transcend time. This is it’s life blood and a reason for it longevity. At the core it is the story about the human condition, unchanged from the world of Homer to the

modern day. Whatever the emotional content of The Odyssey, it’s equal can be found in abundance in a our modern social context whether it be loyalty, heroism, passion, order, retribution or revenge. In an age where theatre and classic literature take second place to video games and television The Odyssey presents it’s self as a prime candidate for modernisation. For more than 1,500 years the Iliad and the Odyssey set the standard by which epic poetry, if not all poetry of any kind, was judged. Through From Ithaca With Love’ my intension is to write and direct a retelling of this classic tale in a contemporary context, exciting and inspiring a new audience, a new generation that can reap the benefits of Homer through a visual medium. Malachi Bogdanov 61


Hester Ruoff in From Ithaca With Love - Millennium Point 2006


From Ithaca With Love

the movie Like the original text, the movie uses a series of flash backs and time shifts to tell the story of the Greek Secret Service agent Odysseus and his protracted journey home, having completed his latest mission in a far off land, England (Troy). Where he has brought the destruction of a powerful leader by tempting him with the gift of a Ferrari (the wooden horse), in a dramatic high action title sequence. In a largely silent opening sequence we see Odysseus answering a telephone and leaving his family, completing the assassination with the Ferrari and calling home, where we see his wife tell her son ‘Daddy’s coming home’, however as he prepares to leave from the docks in his speedboat he is attacked and trapped by a one-eyed agent called Ployphemeus. Through force and cunning he blinds the agent’s single eye before escaping with Super Agent Athena. This epic and dramatic opening sequence is broken by a comic moment, when they accidentally collide with a man in a bath tub rowing across the Med for charity… Followed by the titles. At a meeting of the Service Heads, Athena tells Z, Head of the Greek Secret Service (Zeus) of their journey back to Ithaca. The blinded Polyphemus was the son of Poseidon (an Admiral in the Greek Navy) who wants revenge and now Odysseus is missing, believed a captive of the nymphomaniac drug dealer Calypso. Zeus is persuaded to send Hermes to rescue Odysseus. Meanwhile at Odysseus’s home his wife, Penelope’ is being over run by suitors who, believing Odysseus to be dead want his estate and

his beautiful wife. Hermes and Odysseus escape from Calypso’s cave in an inflatable boat, but it sinks and Odysseus is washed up on the island of Scheria, the home of agent Nausicaa who welcomes him and where Odysseus tells her his story in flashback: ... ‘Back in London Odysseus reads a memo from Zeus telling him to return to Ithaca but warning him of certain dangers. Cut forward to Athena who eventually finds Odysseus after the collision with the bathtub. Pursued by Poseidon and his henchman to escape they must sail past the Sirens, whose beautiful song, Athena warns, will lure Odysseus and the crew to their death on the rocks, begging to hear their song, he is tied to the boat whilst the crew wear head phones to cut out the sound. After Odysseus has killed the assassin Scylla, in the distance they see the burnt out shell of a Lotus Esprit. Forgotten agents in tuxedos hang out of the windows and doors smoking narcotic plants. Odysseus saves Athena from the addictive temptation and they move on again but Poseidon capsizes their boat and Odysseus wakes up and stares at the face of Calypso…’ Eventually Odysseus moves on and in the present day, Hermes arrives and helps Odysseus to find his way back to Ithaca where Odysseus kills the suitors as an offering to Poseidon, and is reunited with his wife Penelope. A party is held to celebrate his return that continues well into the night attended by all the gods including….Poseidon!

63


THE END

Copyright: european drama network Ltd 2011 Published by european drama network Ltd. a company registered in the UK. Company No 05945381 Registered office: 1 Poplar Cottage, Icknield Street, Beoley, Worcestershire B98 9AP, UK The Mandrake Root is the copyright of The Mandrake Root Ltd a wholly owned subsidiary of european drama network ltd. The Mandrake Root Ltd is a UK registered company. Company No 06480841 Registered office: 1 Poplar Cottage, Icknield Street, Beoley, Worcestershire B98 9AP, UK

The Mandrake Root  

A free magazine from European Drama Network about its movie The Mandrake Root based on the play La Mandragola written in 1518 by Niccolo Mac...

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