When Shakespeare Met The Terminator…

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Modern adaptations of Shakespeare are nothing new.  Just think of West Side Story.  A new Nashville theatre company is taking the opposite approach, telling a modern story with Shakespeare's language.

Modern adaptations of Shakespeare are nothing new. Just think of West Side Story. A new Nashville theatre company is taking the opposite approach, telling a modern story with Shakespeare’s language.

Hasta la vista, baby!” was on everybody’s lips in 1991, thanks to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s character in Terminator 2: Judgment Day. He plays a cyborg sent from the future to protect John Connor, who will grow up to lead humanity against a world controlled by machines.

The film earned more than 500 million dollars and captured the imagination of folks like Cody DeVos. “For a lot of our generation, myself included, Terminator was kind of our Old Yeller,” DeVos says.  “It’s still an emotional core that I still have from seeing it when I was, like, 11.”

Jasson Cring as T-800 and Jamie Bradley as John Connor in Terminator the Second (Image by Morgan Paige)

Jasson Cring as T-800 and Jamie Bradley as John Connor in Terminator the Second (Image by Morgan Paige)

DeVos and his friend Marshall Weber are the founders of a new Nashville theatre company called Husky Jackal. The two wanted to produce plays of their own for years. Weber says they had the silly notion of doing Macbeth in a dive bar, but then they realized it wasn’t that great of an idea. “Us doing Julius Caesar or Macbeth or something in bed sheets in a dive bar might be funny, but it’s not something a whole lot of people might come to see,” he says.

 

Then Cody DeVos kind blurted it out one evening: why not do something that makes sense for young artists like a Shakespearean version of Terminator 2?

Cooler than bed sheet Shakespeare, for sure, but how do you make it work?

Weber and DeVos watched T2 about a dozen times. Then they started reading and re-reading Shakespeare’s plays.  Going line by line through Shakespeare, the pair highlighted any dialogue they thought might match with the film’s story. The script took nine months to complete.

 

Kahle Reardon as Sarah Connor in Terminator the Second (Image by Morgan Paige)

Kahle Reardon as Sarah Connor in Terminator the Second (Image by Morgan Paige)

Terminator 2 is an action film full one-liners, explosions, and special effects.  In the play, most of the characters have guns. A SWAT team shows up in a few scenes, but William Shakespeare Presents Terminator the Second is all about using the language to tell the story.

 

The experiment has attracted attention well beyond Nashville.  DeVos and raised a remarkable 10,000 dollars through a website called Kickstarter, with money coming in from as far away as the Philippines.   Marshall Weber says the added attention—and money—has made them work twice as hard to make sure the show is a success.There’s definitely a sense of responsibility that we really owe these people our best,” he says “so that’s what we’ve been trying to give them.”

William Shakespeare Presents Terminator the Second runs October 14 through 17 at Nashville School of the Arts.

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