29 August 2007

“Let’s talk of graves, of worms, and epitaphs.”*

Alas, Poor Yorik…

For those of you who follow the media releases and occasional book release of content based in the Early Modern period (still widely referred to as the Renaissance), the following information may or may not come as a cheerless surprise.

According to an emailed release from Tanya Gough, "Chief Bard-Tender" of the PYSC, The Poor Yorik Shakespeare Catalogue and corresponding website will be closing its doors on October 31, 2007. Gough states in her email, “Please know that I have considered every possible avenue for the company’s survival, including a number of buyout offers and restructuring options, but it was not meant to be.”

I cannot fully express just how disheartening this news is to me. Because the merging of Early Modern drama and modern film is still an embattled subgenre of the field, and because films such as Love’s Labours Lost, Scotland, Pa, Richard III and even Titus don’t have the blockbuster attracting audiences (because of the poor showing of Love’s Labours Lost, Branagh chose to release his latest project, an adaptation of Shakespeare’s As You Like It set in feudal Japan, directly to HBO for distribution on the cable channel rather than facing another box office flop), acquiring these types of film aren’t all that easy. Sure, Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and some of the other media providers sell the same kinds of film (sometimes, that is. Poor Yorik still had an amazing collection of VHS tapes that were not transferred to the DVD format and therefore difficult to find in stores). The difference is, however, that the Poor Yorik Catalogue condensed, localized, and organized all things Early Modern that are transposed to dispensable forms of media.

Because my scholarly interests and research focus on this mediatization of Shakespeare and his contemporaries, I will likely feel this blow more directly than most, but it does not mean that Poor Yorik’s closing isn’t a blow to the field of study. It’s not a new concern that Literature is becoming more and more marginalized in the developing minds of the younger generations, and any disappearance of a company specializing in the Renaissance is disheartening.

So those of you eager to own some Shakespeare on film, cd, comic book, or trinkets, rush over to Poor Yorik before Halloween—an additional note: they will not be receiving new stock, so what you see is what you get! If it’s gone, you’ll have to find it elsewhere. So if that BBC box set you’ve had your eye on for a while is still on your “need to buy” list, get moving! You only have two months.

With regrets,
D. M. Papuga

* Richard II. Act III. Sc. ii