Bogan Shakespeare: doing the Bard bogan style

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Bogan Shakespeare: doing the Bard bogan style


Gippsland-based theatre company, Here There & Everywhere are shaking things up with their latest offering, Bogan Shakespeare – a bogan rendition of classic Shakespeare plays.

In throwing Aussie characters into the depths of this timeless playwright, Phillip A Mayer and his company breathe life into the flowery language of 400-year-old texts. Full of bogan jokes and crass humour, this performance is a cheeky addition to the 2018 Fringe Festival roster.

From Titus Andromedas to Romeo & Juliet, HT&E Theatre Co. explores tragedy, romance and treachery – Aussie style. Mayer started the theatre company after moving to Gippsland to start a family, and subsequently found a lack of theatre in the area. He soon found a company of likeminded artists and performers to devise work that is not only accessible and entertaining, but also tackles subjects relevant to today’s world.

“We tried to make it more appealing, more accessible to the general populous and we will put a bit of Aussie bogan humour to make it more accessible and more fun,” he explains.

“Comedy is a great way to get the audience on side, the audience wants to be entertained… in this case it’s a great way of educating people.”

Within the performance, the audience is introduced to traditional Aussie bogans – all crude, loud and blunt.

“You will see them gather by an open bin fire, it’s a cliché, but it’s cliché for a reason, it actually happens,” he said.

“They make references to Shakespearean stuff but don’t realise where it actually came from. They channel Shakespearean actors who come and give them a bit of an education of him and how important he is for our language.”

When it comes down to “Bogan slang”, Mayer is not convinced that Shakespeare would have been a fan.

“He actually would have suggested people step up and use proper language, although he introduced language that in his time was considered
quite bawdy.”

Mayer describes the shows ability to pull out a larger crowd, as well as its relevancy to today.

“Bogans are people who are hard to sell to,” he explains. “They are less likely to go out to see theatre. So, we thought if we can sell Shakespeare to the hardest market, the Aussie bogan, we can sell Shakespeare to anyone.

“A lot of young people still don’t like Shakespeare, they are intimidated by the language and they think that it’s irrelevant and outdated, but it’s really not. All you have to do is look at the American or Australian political system. The Australian system is just Julius Caesar happening all over again.”

“He covered so many themes, he covered so many different aspects of society from politics to love, I think it is still applicable to today,” Mayer says.

“A lot of movie and material draws on Shakespeare’s ideas. Everything is derivative, there are no true original ideas, it’s just how you interpret it. I think a lot of Shakespearian themes are really important to the human condition.

To Mayer, theatre has been a medium that has isolated members of the public; Like the characters in Bogan Shakespeare, Mayer has caught himself having surprising discussions about all things Shakespeare in the backyard.

“I thought that people wouldn’t have the understanding or the capacity or the interest. Theatre was one of those things, because we are from a regional area, it was not really popular. Arts and culture is still seen as something for the wealthy or the educated. Part of our mission is to get those people in the door.”