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April 15 2006

April's Q and A with James Marsters now online. Questions this month range from advice on public speaking, and describing himself in 3 words. As well as a Spike and Shakespeare question thrown in.

Marsters' answer to the Shakespeare question interested me the most. Fascinating. I completely disagree with him, but his answer comes from that of a man who's had classical training and study with the Bard. The true understanding is a compromise. Shakespeare should be performed for younger audiences in a way that reaches their culture and psychology. I once saw a live performance of Romeo and Juliet set in a near future almost apocalyptic setting. Very Cyberpunk. Sounds corny, but it really rocked. R&J is one of my least favorite tragedies in Shakespeare's portfolio. Cyber R&J kicked major ass.

But I do agree nothing replaces a production that endeavors to meet the original intent of the author. The only true way to master that however would be to replicate the Globe Theater. I mean if you want to tell the story the way Bill intended, you would need an intimate setting that you could only use in mid afternoon on a sunny day to get the best light... oh and by the way make sure it's very flammable so it'll burn away and make history. The real estate your Globe sets on should also be within spitting distance of bordellos and porn studios.

Shakespeare's portfolio is living breathing text, but time marches on. Five hundred years and the works of Shakespeare still speak to humanity, because Shakespeare focused on ageless topics and conflicts that have existed since the beginning, but humanity's language is slowly changing. You can't really do his works justice today, with sincere original intent embedded in a production. You have to take your audience into account, because that was Shakespeare's true intent: reaching his audience. Nobody from the 21st century would attend if you really were true to the bard's intent five hundred years ago. Compromise is required, to bring Bill's words to the ears of Modern Man.
I'm not sure he actually answered the first question, but he sure has given me something to think about when I have to give a presentation. Mainly: Do my coworkers want to eat me?
Zachsmind

The Globe as it now stands seems to conform to your requirements, it's highly flammable you get wet if it rains, the wooden benches are positively penitential and I'm pretty sure the required number of bordellos and porn studios are somewhere in the vicinity.

Sadly the last production I saw there was pretty dire. James could have shown them a thing or two about making Shakspeare work for a modern audience without destroying it in the process

oh well


Nice set of questions and answers .
I hate to dumb down from all the Shakespeare talk but I was a lot more interested in the Spike comment. Okay, I admit it, Shakespeare bores me to tears. I'm culturally devoid of passion unless the topic happens to be music. You want to discuss the cultural importance of the work of Kurt Cobain? I'm your man.

Getting back to the thread topic, the answer James gave to the Spike question made me react in the same way to the thoughts expressed by Seth Green recently concerning Oz. Both actors seem to have the impression that their characters were simply used to suit a purpose and that they were forced to work around that in order to make their parts work. I really think that this is a great shame, if that is actually the case.

Given that Spike and Oz are two of my three favourite Buffy/Angel characters I find it very interesting how the men behind those roles viewed the importance of the characters so very differently to how we as viewers may have looked at them. To me it seems like both Seth and James almost view Oz and Spike as afterthoughts for the writers, shoehorned into the lives of the core Scoobies. Or worse, that their roles were constantly rewritten in order to facilitate the development of other characters. I'd really hate for either of them to doubt the importance they played in the two shows or think that they were anything less than essential because, personally speaking at least, they were two of the reasons I became hooked on the Buffyverse.
Or worse, that their roles were constantly rewritten in order to facilitate the development of other characters.

This is certainly true of Spike's character. Oz didn't stick around long enough for it to happen to him.

It's a tribute to the talent of the actors who played the roles that the characters resonated so much with the audience, despite the writers.
Tara, Spike and Oz were all 'secondary' characters to see into the window of the other characters lives. And I think the actors here are smart enough to realise that, and take the roles for what they are. There's no shame in playing these parts.

When you look at Spike in season 4 of Buffy, it's very, very noticable. Why is he in those episodes, other than he _has_ to be, contractually? The same is true for Oz.

I'm not leveling that as a critism of the writers. A lot of people don't realise the characters are used in this way, which is when the writing really works. For the most part, I think they hit the nail on the head - for example, I never noticed the Oz effect in season 3 of Buffy. I did, in all honesty, notice the problem with Spike in season 4 of Buffy. They really struggle with that character, however I think they got to grips with it later better.

If you think about it, River in 'Serenity' is a window to Mal. Her role teaches us about Mal. River is not what the film is actually about. But people don't notice that. Which is good writing (sometimes a little too good in the case of Serenity).
I have to say, the character I connected most with was Spike, even if his story was used to further Buffy's storyline.

As for his first comment, I had to laugh. Rumor has it that James looks you dead square in the eye when he meets you..
Who was Zachary? A cat?
I sort of see it like this.Buffy is the lead character.Willow,Xander,and Giles are the supporting cast.Then the secondary characters are Dawn,Angel,Spike,Oz,Tara,Anya and the others.All three levels are important to the show.
I have seen some excellent Shakespeare productions which have played fast and loose with the period setting (Richard III in the 1930s, The Wars of the Roses in no particular period but costumes from all periods) and I've also seen some which have failed miserably. I think it's all to do with how well the setting fits the play and how thought through it all is. Sadly I think it often seems to be used as a gimmick and that is when it tends to fail IMO.

Who was Zachary? A cat?

Yes, Zachary was his cat.

[ edited by helcat on 2006-04-15 19:35 ]
I saw him as a cat person cheers. Tony Head is in a new indie film production of Macbeth btw, I think he plays Duncan. For me the definitive version was Polanski's.
As far as Spike and Oz go, I had the same reaction as most of us about what they had to say about their roles. After I read what Seth Green said, I thought "but Oz's presence added so much to the fabric of the show." That type of character helped create a diversity of personalities among the Scoobies. And knowing at any given moment the Master of Ironic Detachment could say something very funny made him quite enjoyable to have around. And it was great that Willow was in love. It was nice seeing her happy (until, of course, she wasn't anymore).

He said all he had to do was sit around and say "Buffy's right." But that doesn't do justice to his character. Oz's role was much more than a functionary.

James has more of a point in feeling Spike was becoming a functionary and it begins in Season 4. There's a window of opportunity where Buffy had no reason not to kill him. But I thought they closed that window quickly and the reasons Spike was still around made sense to me. James may feel he was a functionary but Spike's presence was "earned" as Joss likes to say.

Seth has more of a reason to feel he actually was simply a functionary. Where were they going to go with that character? Even though we all loved Oz, I could see his point a little more. Obviously Seth has a lot of projects he wants to do in addition to acting. So from his point of view I could see him thinking "why am I just sitting around saying 'Buffy's right'?" I'd hate to think he didn't enjoy playing Oz the way we enjoyed watching him. I could feel the void when he left.

I wonder what James thought about Baz Luhrmann's ROMEO + JULIET? Personally, I found it invigorating. And I thought cast--particulary John Leguizamo--was fantastic (I usually do--that guy is talented!). Also you can take "authentic Shakespeare" just as far as you can take Shakespeare on Mars. Would James like to see men play the female roles? Kinda doubt it.

Orson Welles' "Jungle Macbeth" is a legendary part of the history of theatre. If James could go back in time and suggest Orson not do it, would he? Sometimes, you know, PERICLES, PRINCE OF TYRE set in a shoe store is simply taking the characters and dressing them up in different clothes. But a non traditional production or point of view can speak to an audience and give the play a unique spin. Ian McKellen's RICHARD III comes to mind.

Speaking of characters can be used functionarily, is there any character is more multi-purpose yet remains true to the character like Jayne? Adam Baldwin and that character continue to amaze me. It's the product of a talented actor and talented writers who are really attuned to a character. And I think we can agree Jayne was more than a functionary just as Spike was. But I will say that when it comes to functionality Jayne is more tightly written than Spike.

[ edited by batmarlowe on 2006-04-15 20:11 ]

[ edited by batmarlowe on 2006-04-15 20:13 ]

[ edited by batmarlowe on 2006-04-15 20:16 ]
I see Buffy as the lead character and all the rest of the cast, including the Scoobs, there for the purpose of unfolding her story.

Probably because Spike didn't have one label during his time on the show, that of "best friend" the way Xander and Willow did, his character grew in fascinating ways.

I have no problem with producers and directors shifting the time and place of Shakespeare's plays as long as they don't fall in love with their own preciousness and put more value on surprising the audience than of focusing on the words and meaning behind them.

[ edited by Reddygirl on 2006-04-15 20:15 ]
I was the one that asked how he felt about Spike's character.
(I never thought he was actually going to respond, and can't express how happy I was when I saw that he did.)
It goes the same for Angel on his show. He became the lead. And from that point was always treated that way, even when he visited Buffy.

Cordy,Doyle,Gunn, Wes, Conner and Fred were all the secondaries. Then the third tier for that show were the bad guys(Lilah, Linds, The beast) and anyone else. I saw that the same on Buffy.

People like Faith, I am not sure. Her story started off to further Buffy, but then veered off into it's own area that really had nothing to do with any one else.

I think every character grew in facinating ways and the label of best friend" certainly did not stop them. Some bad, some good. But all grew out of the set terms from which they started.

I have to disagree about the reason's on the show not to kill Spike in 4. They were willing to kill Ben, Faith, Dawn and others for the greater good, no matter the soul or device that was involved. At the end of 4, he had no remorse and was still evil.It never made sense. One of the worst things to do sometimes on shows is to bring your bad guy's on as regulars. Then you are forced to use them in most every Ep and alot of that usage never makes sense.

Reddy, as long as Leo DiCaprio never touches it again. =P
No matter how Spike's part was developed, why or what for, James Marsters sucessfully made Spike one of the most interesting characters on the show. I can't imagine anyone else could have ever given Spike such life, or unlife.......
James may feel he was a functionary but Spike's presence was "earned" as Joss likes to say.

I think James does know it. I've felt sorta "how sweet... but let's skip this 124.598.762nd question about Spike just for once" in his answer :)

_and be sure I do love Spike as the only honest character around Buffy... no unlegitimating Joss neither James's work in the show. But I can really understand how tired someone can be, maybe not of a role but sometimes of us fans. And if he felt as I guess, it's been a very nice answer, really polite.

[We don't sign our posts - thanks!]

[ edited by SoddingNancyTribe on 2006-04-16 00:14 ]
I think that Anya, Tara, even Faith were honest as well. They always said what needed to be said. Whether anyone listened or cared was a different story.

I never saw Buffy as helpless or poor. Lonely,in a sense. When it came to her being a Slayer. There was only one other person who could understand the Slayer thing - Faith. Her being at odds with Faith made Buffy feel even more isolated. The leader who had to sacrifice everything in her life including her own happiness and future. There was only one other person she could talk to about that, Angel. And that was always hard and bittersweet. But when she come back from the dead, it was her choice to alienate herself. I know she was not in best mindset. Even a non-choice is choice. But Spike did not help her there either. In fact, they both hurt each other. Many of Buffy's decisions lead to her own separation from those around her.
I loved James' comment at the end about heroes. Maybe such things should go without saying, but it's always nice to be reminded, especially by someone you admire.
"Rumor has it that James looks you dead square in the eye when he meets you."
He does, and it can be a quite unnerving if you're not ready for it. You really get the sense that he's quite comfortable being in front of people. If he's nervous, he handles it well. I know I've read in an interview or two somewhere how he feels the most stage fright when singing. I wonder if it's about his own comfort level with the material (acting versus singing).

[ edited by Grace on 2006-04-16 22:45 ]
Another insightful discussion by people with a range of interests.
Why I like this site.

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