Woyzeck Part ll: Modernization

Considering the relatively abstract nature of the “Woyzeck Part 2′ course topic, I spent more time than usual pondering which direction I wanted to take this in. I suppose it’s like they say, with great power comes great responsibility. Anyway, with my newfound power and freedom with the outside-the-box nature of this week’s post, I decided to discuss a shift into the modern era in multiple senses.

This shift relates to both the play itself and technology, given the Kovarik topic concerning the advent of the computer. While Woyzeck is many things, it is certainly not modern, as it was published almost 150 years ago and written decades before that. Because of this fact, there is plenty of room for interpretation as to how to stage a modern version of the play. We looked at ways this has been attempted, including the entire play being in a cage or on a net, or even in some sort of sewer-type setting with a downward slope into lower ground, where the majority of the play took place. If I was tasked with staging the play, I would try to set it outdoors, which would make staging the scene at the fair as well as the murder scene easier. The doctor might use more modern techniques in his study of Woyzeck, such as shock therapy, or any number of experimental (and possibly painful) things that one might see an antagonist do in a modern movie. To make a connection with the advent of computers, the communication in the play could certainly be updated. For example, Woyzeck could see an email between Marie and the drum major that gives him information about their affair.

The Kovarik reading discusses how the computer changed communications. Computers and subsequently the internet essentially made the world smaller. Without computers, there is no social media on which to reach the entire world. Plays like Woyzeck would be significantly less likely to influence and spread across the oceans without the outreach of computers and the internet. When people think modernization, they often think of the technological revolution, which is clearly headlined by computers. I think an interesting way to modernize Woyzeck would be to use the modern technology and capabilities of computers to make a film adaptation, compete with CGI and all the effects of Hollywood. The fair could be elaborate as ever, the Grandmother’s story could be complete with strange or spooky music and lighting, followed by the murder scene. The murder scene could go in any  number of directions with the capabilities of modern technology. The advent of the computer not only increased the efficiency of things that humans could already do, but gave birth to a world of new possibilities for adaptations and updates on media like Woyzeck that are limitless.

A final thought relates to the aforementioned saying because computer technology is powerful, and with great power comes great responsibility. This made me think that for every interesting adaptation of plays that works, there could be horrible, over-CGI’ed adaptations that do not work. It’s tough to update/modernize something that was never quite finished by the creator in the first place. After all, some things are better in their original form without updated adaptations (just ask anyone who has seen the Hangover films, or Caddyshack 2). Perhaps Woyzeck falls into this category and is best left in its original form.