Kendra Leonard deposited “The Wild West meets the wives of Windsor: Shakespeare and Music in the Mythological American West” in the group Global Shakespeares on MLA Commons 2 weeks, 6 days ago
North America has never had any trouble making Shakespeare its own. Since the first American performance of Shakespeare play in 1730, directors, actors, and musicians have been working to locate the works of the Bard in the United States and Canada. I will examine the music for two Shakespearean productions in the context of this Americanization and especially the ways in which musical material largely understood as “Western” is used to geo- and chronolocate their settings. Lone Star Love transports The Merry Wives of Windsor to the “Wild West,” where Col. John Falstaff finds himself in the boomtown of Windsor, Texas. There he schemes with the wives of cattle barons for their husbands’ fortunes, but the women are onto his plans and upend them. The music for Lone Star Love was performed by The Red Clay Ramblers band, featuring country and bluegrass tunes. While the setting provides Americanization of the work, it is the music that most clearly locates the action in the American West. A production of The Taming of the Shrew at Bard on the Beach of Vancouver, BC, musically locates the action of the play in the “Wild West” through the use of cues similar to those composed by Ennio Morricone for Clint Eastwood’s “Man With No Name” Westerns. These cues, used in conjunction with the play’s conflicts between father and daughter, sister and sister, and wooer and beloved, create an aural atmosphere of satire while depicting Kate as a rough-and-ready modern woman of the American West.