Interview with Orson Scott Card Part 2
( 1 )
de Orson Scott Card
aux éditions ActuSF
Genre : SF

Auteurs : Orson Scott Card
Date de parution : janvier 2000 Inédit
Langue d'origine : Anglais UK
Type d'ouvrage : Interview mail
Nombre de pages : 1
Titre en vo : 1
Cycle en vo : Guin Saga
Parution en vo : mars 2007

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Interview with Orson Scott Card Part 2

Actusf : The first presentation of Shakespeare’s The Taming off the Shrew, took place a few days ago. How that did it occur ? Did you enjoy to come back to the theatre world ?
Orson Scott Card : I’ve been directing plays for many years, but beginning with my production of Romeo and Juliet last year, I have begun the serious work of adapting the English-language versions of Shakespeare’s plays for a modern audience. When you see Shakespeare in French, it is generally translated into language that the audience can understand ; in English, however, the language is not translated, so modern audiences have to struggle with understanding the language of 1600.

This is most damaging in the comedy. In Romeo and Juliet, the first half of the play is supposed to be very, very funny, so that the tragedy creeps up on you and is all the more devastating because we have loved these young, funny, happy children. My job, then, was to translate or replace the wordplay and humor so that they are instantly understood by a modern audience. At the same time, I endeavored to keep the feel of Shakespeare’s language, writing in blank verse and using only vocabulary that sounds plausible in Shakespeare’s time.

With Romeo and Juliet, I regarded my revisions as a complete success. Taming of the Shrew was even more difficult, however, because our attitude toward marriage — and the role of the wife in marriage — has changed so radically since Shakespeare’s day. Even then, the "taming" would have been regarded as funny precisely because it was so outrageous. However, Katharina’s speech at the end of Shrew is almost impossible to present today, as Shakespeare wrote it, because the woman’s role is so very subservient.

At the same time, I didn’t want to replace that speech with a feminist tract. My goal was to revise the play so that instead of calling for complete submission of women, it instead showed that Petruchio finds an angry, frustrated, but also spoiled and demanding woman and "tames" her, not into sole submission, but rather into a partnership where both husband and wife seek to please each other.

The storyline changes not a whit — my new interpretation of the story shows up only here and there. Most of my changes were, as in Romeo and Juliet, about the comedy, though since Shrew is comedy right to the end, my changes were far more pervasive.

I also restored the Christopher Sly material as I believe Shakespeare intended it to be used. Sly makes heckling comments throughout the play, and in the end climbs down onto the stage to play the Widow. Since I have a woman playing Sly (in a beard), and a young male actor playing Sly’s wife and Grumio, there is a great deal of comedy that arises from the gender-crossing roles (in the end, the actress playing Sly is a woman playing a man playing a woman).

The result was, if I may say so with any shred of modesty left, brilliantly funny. The play is hilarious from beginning to end — and yet the affirmation of a marriage between equals as the conclusion of all the "taming" is far more palatable to modern ears without sounding anachronistic.

As a result, the audience for my version of Shrew is getting an experience far closer to what the Elizabethan audience would have had — a show that is as funny now as his was then, and with as happy an ending.

I’m not done with Shakespeare yet. I just wrote a story called "Hamlet’s Father" that is my twisted, perverse, and (in my opinion) much more entertaining version of the Hamlet story. Could I possibly be any more arrogant than that ?

Actusf : Let’s talk about movies. Is there still film project around your books ? How do you feel about the idea ?
Orson Scott Card : It takes time to break into the movies ; it also takes time to learn how to write screenplays. My most recent Ender’s Game screenplay is, I believe, an excellent one — when and if it is filmed, I think it will give people as powerful an experience as the book ever has.

I’m also working on other films, including developing Enchantment for the screen. But I prefer not to talk about film projects until they become at least a little bit real — that is, when money is being spent to push them forward to production. As soon as anything real happens, believe me, I’ll be posting word of it online !

Actusf : Empire was published last November, althought It’ has not been translated to French yet. Could you give us a pitch ?
Orson Scott Card : Empire is a book in which the rabid, hate-filled political rhetoric of today leads to a serious attempt to start a civil war in America. Taking the lesson of the former Yugoslavia to heart, I try to set up a scenario that American readers can take seriously — we really could have a war, if someone wanted it badly enough !

Some American readers have been bothered because the heroes of the book are mostly of the Right — believers in President Bush and the War on Terror. Because of this, they assumed (incorrectly) that this was a book that hates the Left and supports the Right. On the contrary, it’s a novel in which people realize that hatred and polarization lead to mutual self-destruction, and it is essential to tone down the rhetoric and recognize that good and smart people can hold opposing views on vital subjects, and they need to take each other seriously as fellow citizens in a free republic.

Unfortunately, we live in a time when the media are almost a monoculture. I am saddened that the European media have so misrepresented America and its goals in the current war that it is almost impossible to get a rational view of why we have acted as we have — and why about half our electorate has twice elected George W. Bush (who is, by the way, neither stupid nor evil, despite the lies that are told about him).

Now it seems the media’s propaganda campaign is working and we will leave Iraq with our job unfinished, and what saddens me most about this is that it is Europe that will pay the price of this unfinished war. You are the ones who will be torn apart by world war between Islam and the West, and you will have to fight the war without American help this time. The war was already under way before America entered it. We neither caused it nor made it worse, except that our withdrawal from Iraq will so encourage the fanatical enemies of freedom that they will believe they can prevail in a wider war. If we had enjoyed the support of Europe and of a united America, the War on Terror might have been won on battlefields in Iraq, Syria, and Iran. Now it will be played out in the streets of European cities, as the Barbarian invasion once again tears apart a civilization. I hope I’m wrong, of course. But the course of events makes me very sad.

Empire is a novel (and, potentially, a series of novels) that views our current world situation with cold realism. America is an empire that does not wish to be one ; we are easily discouraged from doing what must be done to maintain the global order that allows democracy and prosperity to flourish. The French will not like the world that America leaves behind when we retreat to our borders. Nor would you like the world that would exist if America really were the monster nation that the European media like to pretend we are. When the monsters really are loose among you, America will look so much better ... but it will be too late. I doubt that America will come to Europe again. You’ll be on your own against militant Islam.

Fortunately, though, I keep my own political beliefs out of my fiction. Empire is as close as I’ve come — but even in that novel, none of the characters speaks for me. They speak only for themselves, and represent many different viewpoints. When I want to talk about politics, I write essays and post them at http://www.oscigms.com ; when I write fiction, I create characters whose views are not my own, and I allow them to be eloquent in defense of their, not my, views.

Actusf : Ender and Alvin are your most famous cycles. Do you feel like pursuing to tell stories about those universes ? After having spent so much time and energy on these stories, can you definitely say you would not return to their characters ?
Orson Scott Card : But I return to those characters all the time. There will be another Alvin novel, as well as two more Ender novels (at least). And I write new short stories in both universes all the time. In fact, my online magazine, Orson Scott Card’s Intergalactic Medicine Show, includes a new Ender-universe story in every issue. (See ).

Actusf : What are your next projects ? What novels or short stories are you currently working on ?
Orson Scott Card : Those new Ender novels, of course, as well as a new series of fantasy novels that, like Enchantment, move back and forth between a medieval fantasy world and our contemporary world. It is called "Mithermages," and the first story, "Stonefather," will soon be published in an anthology edited by Gardner Dozois.

Actusf : When will you come back in France ?
Orson Scott Card : We are quite frustrated that we have been unable to return as often as we like. France is, I dare say, our favorite country after our own. We love France from Provence to Bretagne. But now that I’m teaching at Southern Virginia University, I’m not as free to travel as I used to be. I have no immediate plans to return. Besides, are outspoken Bush-supporting Americans really welcome in France right now ?

Actusf : We will celebrate H.P. Lovecraft’s 70th death anniversary in a few days. Was he the kind of author you read and enjoyed ? How do you consider his work and himself ?
Orson Scott Card : I tried reading several of his stories and could never understand what all the fuss was about. Apparently I lack the Lovecraft gene. I’m sure it’s my loss.

Jérôme Vincent

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