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Whedonesque - a community weblog about Joss Whedon
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May 31 2013

Highlights from last night's Q&A with Joss Whedon. This was held after the Much Ado About Nothing screening at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Joss talked about Shakespeare's female characters, his library ballet, dancing and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..

I attended this screening/Q&A last night, and it was fantastic! I was actually the one who asked about specific changes he made to the text. I'd been struggling to recall the exact wording of his answer about changing Benedick's line, so it's really nice to read this recap with exact quoteage.

He did make more than one specific addition to the text, though. Whedon said he had a conversation with Amy Acker and Alexis Denisof about how best to introduce their characters' relationship. The play itself opens with a dialogue-heavy exposition scene in which Beatrice starts talking about how much she hates Benedick, and Whedon said they felt the cinematic version needed something more to show the characters' history. So his movie version opens with a wordless scene between them that really helps set the stage for the emotional tone of their witty repartee later on. I wish I could recall exactly what he said (and I wish that part was quoted in this article!) - so fascinating to hear about the process of adapting Shakespeare to film.

The whole film is laugh-out-loud hilarious while also emotionally (and occasionally painfully) resonant. Go see it. You will love it.
I can't wait to see it next Friday!

But I'm also really looking forward to seeing a Joss-penned ballet someday. I hope that happens.
Yes, regarding his ballet... Whatever happened to "The Serving Girl" - the ballet I thought he had already written for Summer to perform? Did I imagine that? I haven't heard it mentioned in some time.
(first post on this board) Was also there, in fact sitting only a few seats away from Mare. Joss was tired and not feeling very well, but he gave his all for over half an hour. The movie is thrillingly beautiful. This probably isn't the place or the time to list the many things I'm grateful to have seen in it, but for starters:

- Fran Kranz shows an intense, believable reaction when Don Pedro says that he'll woo Hero on Claudio's behalf (it's not an offer; he gives Claudio no choice). Other productions strangely play this moment down, as if the trust between the two men was easy and automatic, and as if this insane idea was really the most normal, obvious way for things to unfold, and nothing could possibly go amiss.

- Joss makes beautiful, highly comic sense of Hero's "not that dress--the other one" moment just before the wedding scene in Act III. Other productions turn her into Bridezilla (which works, too), but to me this was better because there's more symmetry between the characters. Margaret knows something about the first dress that Hero doesn't, and her, um, special knowledge has a visual counterpart that Hero seems blind to. We get to see Margaret experience the moment on a whole other, awkward level of her own, not just as "supporting character." It's all set up so that it plays out and pays off in a few seconds on the screen. I miss the saucy dialogue that was cut from that scene, but in this movie we already know pretty well what Margaret can bring, and showing wins out over talking.

[ edited by mozzarellademon on 2013-06-01 13:18 ]

[ edited by mozzarellademon on 2013-06-01 13:18 ]
Well said, mozzarellademon! I took some video from the evening. It's shaky and cuts off abruptly after 15 minutes (when my camera died) but Joss is still wonderful: http://www.youtube.com/edit?video_id=mw8FKij2wao&ns=1
Fyi Mare that link only works for the video uploader. Here's a general one http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mw8FKij2wao
Ah, I must've grabbed the wrong url. Thanks, brinderwalt! I'm not a regular youtuber. Also, I selected the option for "fix shakiness," which appears to have prompted something to take sharp-but-shaky footage and make it look like an old VHS tape. Weird! But the awesome of Joss makes up for it, as it always does.
Welcome to the board mozzarellademon and thanks for pointing that out about the wedding dress scene.
If, say, a bunch of people on this board wanted to discuss the play itself, is there a way we could do that? Or is it in the nature of this board that all its topics die out quickly?

For example, one thing that amazes me about the play, that I'd love to discuss specifically with the kind of people who would be here, is how Benedick and Beatrice's first outright declarations of love to each other come at the worst possible time (this is such a Joss Whedon movie)--just after the wedding debacle, when Beatrice is consumed with grief and rage.

Any Hollywood writer worth his salt would know that to make the most of the romantic moment, you need to clear the decks for it and let the moment shine. But Shakespeare doesn't. Instead, the moment comes, and then the play rockets up to a whole new level of seriousness and intensity because the love made someone really listen to what someone else was saying about the difficult stuff.

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