Hag-Seed is the latest novel from the celebrated and award winning writer Margaret Atwood. The Canadian novelist likes to experiment with her work and always seems to be taking on new and exciting challenges. Recently she released a graphic novel and with her new book Hag-Seed, she is taking on the mammoth task of reinterpreting Shakespeare. Hag-Seed follows on from other writers such as Jeanette Winterson and Howard Jacobson, who have all undertaken the duty of creating new and contemporary work based on Shakespeare’s best loved plays. With Hag-Seed, Atwood has interpreted The Tempest and she is present at the King’s Theatre in Edinburgh to discuss the process and share her work with an eager audience.
The event is chaired by literary critic and writer Stuart Kelly. The first question this evening delves into Atwood’s relationship with Shakespeare and why she had chosen The Tempest as her source material. The writer reveals that she was only interested in adapting this particular play and may not have taken part in the project if another writer had already chosen that specific text. For Hag-Seed, Atwood has given the story a contemporary feel by setting it in a prison where the inmates are staging their own version of the play. The writer goes onto mention the use of language in The Tempest and how she enjoyed rejuvenating the colourful curse words of 400 years ago in the context of a prison setting. The writer clearly enjoyed the process of adapting Shakespeare and this is obvious in her entertaining and enthusiastic responses to Kelly’s insightful questions.
Not many writers could fill a venue the size of the King’s Theatre outside of Edinburgh’s busy festival season, but Margret Atwood has done just that. The author is relaxed and jovial in front of a capacity crowd and enjoys discussing her own work and the work of Shakepeare. During the audience Q and A towards the end of the event Atwood discusses abandoned projects and gives great insight into the writing process and the birth of her creative endeavours. Atwood has been to Edinburgh on many occasions to discuss her work and hopefully with other exciting projects in the pipeline, she will return again to entertain and inform a delighted audience.