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What profession is the ‘playwright’ of our time?

Who are the Bill Shakespeare & Kit Marlowe of Now, in terms of literary skill but also reach & fame/notoriety? What is today’s equivalent artform to a play in the round or a fawning sonnet for the Queen?

And, would an Elizabethan playwright today be a bigshot film writer/director? A Netflix screenwriter or producer? A rapper or pop songwriter who rubs shoulders with foreign royalty & international models?
replies 63Nov 30, 2017 9:56 AM +00:00

Philip Dawkins

replies 1Nov 30, 2017 10:01 AM +00:00

eh hem
replies 2Nov 30, 2017 10:02 AM +00:00

Ryan Murphy

replies 3Nov 30, 2017 10:04 AM +00:00


--Shawn Mendes
replies 4Nov 30, 2017 10:12 AM +00:00

Public Relations
replies 5Nov 30, 2017 10:16 AM +00:00

I personally believe we DLers are at the forefront of the vanguard.

(AND we will surely be up for a Pulitzer or something for our probe into Operation Lansbury.)

replies 6Nov 30, 2017 10:21 AM +00:00

I don’t blame you all so much for not taking the question asked in all earnestness seriously, as I blame myself for not anticipating it. As you were, lads.

--OP, chagrined
replies 7Nov 30, 2017 10:36 AM +00:00

Jay-Z recently predicted Chris Martin of ‘Coldplay’ would be held up like a Shakespeare in centuries to come. Really.

Beyonce is more likely than either man to take the wreath from Will’s head. At least she popularised certain turns of phrase. ‘Bootylicious’, the trochaic ‘Becky-with-the-good-hair’, “I’m in my feelings” and “I slay” are all more memorable and in wider use than any Coldplay lyric or Jay-Z line.

replies 8Nov 30, 2017 3:32 PM +00:00

If Shakespeare or Marlowe were alive today, they'd be churning out episodes of power-blood-and-revenge sagas on HBO.

replies 9Nov 30, 2017 4:17 PM +00:00

So basically George R. R. Martin is the Shakespeare of the 21st Century, R9?

What about the poetry side, though? The Bard was a multi-talented artistic force as well as a famed courtier, even though he was looked down upon by some for his plays. He also directed his own works and acted from time to time. Is there anyone alive today who even comes close? I’m thinking the late Prince Rogers Nelson might fit, given that he had films out...

--OP, still pondering
replies 10Dec 1, 2017 5:25 AM +00:00

I once heard Bill Cli n ton called the ‘Faustus’ of our time, not sure if I agree.

Who is the modern cognate of Chaucer? A hypeman, a forgerer, a travel writer & satirist to the rich, & amateur cardshark...

replies 11Dec 1, 2017 5:42 AM +00:00

In the 1990s, it was the moguls & bookers of American pro-wrestling.

Behind the curtain was almost as much drug use, excess, sleazy sex and power-games as you’d expect from politicians of now...all for our Entertainment dollar. Vince Russo has a little John Ford about him.

Seventeen years before WWE acquired WCW, Mr. McMahon made a stunning deal to score World Championship Wrestling's Saturday night timeslot on TBS. How did it all go down? And why were the lives of the men responsible threatened?
replies 12Dec 6, 2017 10:14 AM +00:00

quentin tarantino is the dialoqgue king since reservoir dogs. he just gets dialogue like willy the shake.

replies 13Dec 6, 2017 10:23 AM +00:00

Nah R2, he wants to be a Beat. His auteur films and stints at teaching speak to that.

Shakespeare was more a dramatic storyteller than a diarist, more of the common-people. Bill was less about philosophy & personal journeys and more about society & relationships within it.

replies 14Dec 6, 2017 10:36 AM +00:00

It was probably Rod Serling.

replies 15Dec 6, 2017 10:48 AM +00:00


replies 16Dec 6, 2017 10:56 AM +00:00

Kit Marlowe produced almost nothing.

Bill Shakespeare was consistently productive.

No-one in the last century has produced as much as what Shakespeare did. It's a different world now.

replies 17Dec 6, 2017 10:58 AM +00:00

Yes, quite right R17. Shakespeare’s catalogue is remarkable even by today’s standards. One wonders when he stopped to eat.

However, I was speaking of legacy & largesse more than proliferation. I am asking: which writers of today have the influence & popularity of Shakespeare? Whose work is entering mass consciousness in the same way?

How about Bowie? His lyrics are as memorable, and as well-beloved.

replies 18Dec 6, 2017 11:29 AM +00:00
I am asking: which writers of today have the influence & popularity of Shakespeare? Whose work is entering mass consciousness in the same way?

Michael Jackson, J.K. Rowling, Kanye West, Pixar.

replies 19Dec 6, 2017 12:14 PM +00:00

R19 those listed certainly do have the widespread appeal. But the talent...?

replies 20Dec 6, 2017 1:47 PM +00:00

To be fair to Marlowe, he was killed when he was 29, so, no, he didn't write very much. Shakespeare was not yet "Shakespeare" at that age; much of his early work is pretty ragged. He did work like a demon once he got going, though.

replies 21Dec 6, 2017 2:20 PM +00:00

Quality, not quantity, R21.

Don’t scholars now believe that Marlowe had a big hand in writing the Henry cycle?

replies 22Dec 7, 2017 6:14 AM +00:00

Tim Rice & Bernie Taupin are both world-renowned lyricists who have had their words in major stage productions. They have also worked with ‘stars’ and in film.

What sayeth the Datalounge?

replies 23Dec 7, 2017 6:15 AM +00:00

R22, the current Oxford edition totally buys into the idea that Shakespeare and Marlowe collaborated on the Henry VI plays. I’m not sure how much of that is based on language algorithms and how much is based (longstanding) speculation. One might have hoped for something better from that match-up.

replies 24Dec 7, 2017 9:32 AM +00:00

R24 indeed. Two heads aren’t always better than one, particularly if those two heads are genius rivals. The idea of Marlowe & Shakespeare collabing is a tempting one, but there’s definitely still a case to say that they couldn’t have compromised enough to produce a whole play in tandem (and that they didn’t have enough time to get to comfortable enough to work together before Marlowe’s death). Still, the echoes of Marlowe in Henry VI are undeniable. I’ve always noticed a big jump in quality in that cycle...

What do you think they would admire nowadays? I feel that Shakespeare would look to recent acclaimed tv series like ‘Empire’ or popular comic dramas such as Wes Anderson films. To my mind, Marlowe might prefer more fantastic & experimental works such as Pynchon novels or series like ‘American Gods’.

replies 25Dec 8, 2017 4:52 AM +00:00

Would either of them have groped their female leads, do we think?

Will had his mistress Anne, so I doubt he’d feel tempted. He also had a daughter I believe, which would turn him off. Kit preferred men and seemingly liked them older, so perhaps it’s a no on both counts.

replies 26Dec 16, 2017 5:59 AM +00:00

Stephen King. J. K. Rowling.

replies 27Dec 16, 2017 6:02 AM +00:00

It galls me to think of King that way.

replies 28Dec 16, 2017 8:08 AM +00:00

Kathryn Bigelow.

replies 29Dec 19, 2017 3:33 AM +00:00

Why does everyone keep saying Rowling? I just don’t see it.

replies 30Dec 21, 2017 8:57 AM +00:00

There is no answer. No compassion is possible.

Our society is post-modernising itself into stupidity.

replies 31Dec 21, 2017 9:06 AM +00:00

Intriguing, R31. Please elaborate at will.

How did those Elizabethan gentlemen poets & wordsmiths develop their eye for the human heart? Is it impossible for a 21st Century pen to grow toward the same?

replies 32Dec 21, 2017 2:46 PM +00:00

^Oops, did I say 'compassion'?, I meant 'comparison'.

Shakespeare’s talent lies more in the mass of his discursive, Handel-like, elaborative clever poetry than in his actual 2-hour or 4-hour long plays.

A contemporary Shakespeare might be writing in a different media today (because poetry, more or less, died during the 20th century). But our ever-shortening attention spans won’t allow us to listen to anything longer than 5 minutes.

replies 33Dec 22, 2017 1:04 AM +00:00

R18, rap, unfortunately.

replies 34Dec 22, 2017 1:45 AM +00:00

So for our purposes Jay-Z’s ‘Story of OJ’ is basically cognate with ‘Timon of Athens’?

replies 35Dec 24, 2017 11:56 AM +00:00

Who is the Shakespeare of modern times? Maybe the Beatles, but definitely a musical artist with international acclaim, intergenerational appeal, and a catalogue that so far stands the test of time.

replies 36Dec 24, 2017 12:15 PM +00:00

R26 - there were no female actors to grope in Bill's time.

R33 - I think your wrong about poetry dying during the 20th century. Digital platforms have opened a door for poetry. Also about five minute attention spans - sonnet 14 lines long, ten syllables per line.

R17 - Joyce Carol Oates comes to mind. So does Arthur Miller. So does Eugene O'Neill.

R34 - what's the problem with rap? It seems many people doing rap are taken seriously by scholars. Like it or not Eminem comes to mind.

replies 37Dec 24, 2017 1:15 PM +00:00

R37 'I think your[sic] wrong about poetry'.

35% of Datalounge might remember a poem they read in school.

2% would remember a poem they read after leaving school.

Prove me incorrect by starting a thread here challenging the Dataloungers to recite a poem written in last 5 years.

--Poetry is, more or less, dead
replies 38Dec 24, 2017 1:31 PM +00:00

R38 poetry then is the equivalent of song lyrics today. Check this linked thread and you’ll see poetry alive & well....

replies 39Dec 24, 2017 2:17 PM +00:00

^ Those lyrics are one line long.

Shakespeare's Macbeth is 2 hours, Hamlet is 5!

--Poetry is, more or less, dead
replies 40Dec 24, 2017 2:25 PM +00:00

Maybe tv writers like Michael Hirst, formerly documentarians but now doing longform epics for Netflix like VIKINGS.

replies 41Dec 26, 2017 6:34 AM +00:00


replies 42Dec 26, 2017 6:48 AM +00:00

replies 43Dec 26, 2017 8:18 AM +00:00

OP, Bowie bears no comparison to the Bard

replies 44Dec 26, 2017 1:28 PM +00:00

Both Brits, both poets, both cause celebres..

replies 45Dec 26, 2017 1:37 PM +00:00

Both Brits, both dead, one relies on international capitalism to spread their product across the planet

replies 46Dec 27, 2017 1:29 PM +00:00


--Joss Whedon
replies 47Dec 30, 2017 6:37 AM +00:00

In that case r14 you'd have to look to the rappers who told stories about poverty, cops, corruption and the streets. Rap is poetry whether you like it or not.

replies 48Dec 30, 2017 7:03 AM +00:00

I remember these r38

The woods are lovely dark and deep. And I have promises to keep. And miles to go before I sleep.

Good fences make good neighbors.

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings. Look on my works ye mighty and despair.

One if by land, two if by sea. And I on the opposite shore will be, ready to ride and give the alarm. For the village folk to be up and to arm.

As an elder gay in school we were required to memorize poetry in English class.

replies 49Dec 30, 2017 7:13 AM +00:00
You live, you die And spend the years in between asking the question Why you've been through what you been You lose, you win, you even pay for other sins But you must always adore the skin you are in

I woke up and it was pouring down rain

I put my head on, it really wasn't no thing

One of them days I was feeling immune to the pain

Threw on, Alice Coltrane, smoked and sang

And wrote this flame composed to the rhythm of the droplets

And went whispering similar to gossip

The kick slapping at the window glass

Slow down the globe so it don't spin too fast

Because, I've been running like a river since

The age of my early innocence

It just made me ambitious

My grams used to tell me "Man listen

If you can't burn, don't step into the kitchen"

You muscle your turn, the laws of the land vicious

We gotta stick to the plan, which is

Pursuing true riches, whether we trade stock or wash dishes

Throughout setbacks and few glitches

The Big Picture's the focus, fuck being hopeless

Or helpless, we not selfish so we wrote this

Give it to ya, make you feel good

Know what I'm talkin about? C'mon

--glitches by the roots
replies 50Dec 30, 2017 7:17 AM +00:00

Who is the HOTTIE in OP's gif?

replies 51Dec 30, 2017 7:18 AM +00:00

^ The late Michael Gothard

replies 52Dec 30, 2017 7:48 AM +00:00

You rang R51?

--Jamie Campbell-Bower, model & artiste
replies 53Dec 30, 2017 7:56 AM +00:00

Well, I don’t like to brag, OP, but.

--Lorne Michaels
replies 54Jan 8, 2018 9:07 AM +00:00

R18, OP; I think this thread has come to its conclusion concluding that there is no one as potent as Shakespeare in our time.

replies 55Jan 9, 2018 2:11 PM +00:00

Hey, unappreciative gay dudes. This gal isn't going away anytime soon, hee!

In addition to my digital newsletter, THE LENNY LETTER (half a million subscribers, bitches!), my career in publishing is exploding.

And I still have a sweetheart of a development deal with HBO, a rocker boyfriend, and Judd Apatow in my pocket.
--did someone say "hourglass figure"?
replies 56Jan 9, 2018 2:32 PM +00:00

pear-shaped figure and a dirty disfigurement on their arm

replies 57Jan 9, 2018 2:48 PM +00:00
Jay-Z recently predicted Chris Martin of ‘Coldplay’ would be held up like a Shakespeare in centuries to come. Really.

Yes, the lyrics just roll off the tongue like a soliloquy from Hamlet. To wit:

'But now, all I can think about is you All I can think about is you If all that I'm on earth to do Is solo Then what a lone poor shoe I wanna walk in a two"

replies 58Jan 9, 2018 2:55 PM +00:00

what the fuck is the question?? what (profession) if the playwright of our time?? um, a playwright???


sam shepard

david mamet.

replies 59Jan 9, 2018 3:02 PM +00:00

Shakespeare is a one off. No one who has followed him, or came before him for that matter, has come anywhere close to his genius. It's the reason so many people refuse to believe the man known as William Shakespeare from Stratford could have written those plays and sonnets.

replies 60Jan 9, 2018 3:07 PM +00:00

Sam Shepard is dead, and Mamet is not even remotely relevant in this era, so I'd hardly call either of them "of our time." Regardless, neither one of them creates beautiful, poetic language for the stage, which would seem to be a primary requirement.

I've always found Shepard daffy, tedious, and overrated. Mamet had his day, but at some point, even the hammiest actors will get bored doing revivals of GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS. At which point nothing of his is really worth reviving.

replies 61Jan 9, 2018 10:21 PM +00:00

My old College lecturer for Drama in college was adamant that Dennis Potter should be considered this way, and that the plebeians underappreciate his works.

An excerpt from Blue Remembered Hills (Dennis Potter, 1979) Willie: Julian Coburn-Hough Peter: Jon Lamb Theatre Direction: Mick Martin Film Direction:…
replies 62Jan 10, 2018 3:44 AM +00:00

Potter is almost forgotten 15 years after his passing. He stuff will be revived in the next 20 years.

But Shakespeare's stuff continues to be revived.

replies 63Jan 10, 2018 3:49 AM +00:00