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HAMLET from SHAKESPEARE: Script, Stage, Screen (Chapter 15) Edited by David Bevington, Anne Marie Welsh and Michael L. Greenwald, Pearson Longman, 2006.

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Presentation on theme: "HAMLET from SHAKESPEARE: Script, Stage, Screen (Chapter 15) Edited by David Bevington, Anne Marie Welsh and Michael L. Greenwald, Pearson Longman, 2006."— Presentation transcript:

1 HAMLET from SHAKESPEARE: Script, Stage, Screen (Chapter 15) Edited by David Bevington, Anne Marie Welsh and Michael L. Greenwald, Pearson Longman, 2006.

2 Context and dating After Julius Caesar (1599) and Twelfth Night (1601) The first of four great tragedies (Hamlet, Othello, Macbeth, King Lear) More than 40 films exits Many women have played the role including women like Sara Bernhardt  and Judith Anderson Universally noted for the human-ness of its protagonist It is memorable both as superb storytelling and spectacular theater

3 Plots and Counterplots Relies on three interlinked stories about fathers and sons Hamlet and his father Polonius and Laertes Fortinbras and his father Laertes is too passionate in his revenge Hamlet is too deliberate Fortinbras is methodical and successful

4 HAMLET represents a new type of storytelling as he writes about a character “suspended” between impulse and action. --Stephen Greenblatt

5 The play is more than a murder story: it is an examination of the kind of response provoked by murder. --Peter Alexander

6 Harold Bloom The phenomenon of Hamlet, the prince without the play, is unsurpassed in the West’s imaginative literature. Hamlet the character transcends his play

7 Hamlet is the theatre’s most enigmatic hero… Laurence Olivier begins his award-winning film with a voice- over “the tragedy of a man who cannot make up his mind” He is a character fraught with inconsistencies Is he feigning madness or indeed mad? He seems tender, yet he has his friends murdered Shakespeare’s only tragic character with an enviable sense of humor Unlike Ophelia’s depiction, he is cruel to both her and Gertrude He will not kill himself and deliberately refuses to kill his uncle

8 7 Soliloquies Soliloquies mark Hamlet’s movement from paralysis to action O that this too, too sullied flesh would melt (I.2) O all you host of heaven! (I.5) O what a rogue and peasant slave am I (II.2) To be, or not to be (III. 2) Tis now the very witching time of night (III.3) Now might I do it pat (III.3) How all occasions do inform against me (IV.4)

9 Oedipal implications These have been explored in several films including the adaptations with Laurence Olivier and Mel Gibson Laurence Olivier and Eileen Herlie Glenn Close and Mel Gibson

10 Other notable characters CLAUDIUS, the wicked uncle-king POLONIUS, a garrulous and meddling counselor OPHELIA, an innocent ingenue LAERTES, her fiery brother HORATIO, Hamlet’s faithful friend Manipulative and manipulated schoolmates ROSENCRANTZ and GUILDENSTERN

11 Even Minor Characters are memorable Fortinbras, future King of Denmark The clowns Osric The Gravediggers

12 Sources and Inspirations The Spanish Tragedy by Thomas Kyd (1588) Ur-Hamlet (Kyd? in 1589) Saxo Grammaticus Historia Danica 1180-1208 Francois de Belleforest Histories Tragiques (1576)

13 1601 It was written in 1601 at the height of a vogue for children’s companies. That same year is the death of Shakespeare’s father. Could it be a meditation on the death of a father?

14 Language and music Several images dominate notably those describing corruption and decay “Something is rotten in the State of Denmark” (1.4.90) A sterile promontory - unweeded garden - ulcerous place An evil act (fratricide, the primal sin) soils everyone

15 Language and music Play seems to move from beautiful to harrowing Marcellus description of rising son (1.1.72) to appearance of ghost Shakespeare’s most ambitious attempt to create a psychologically complex character through language The play has a preponderance of theatre language “Drama holds the mirror up to nature”

16 Language and music Contains three songs 1. Hamlet sings a jaunty tune to celebrate the success of “The Mousetrap” 2. Ophelia’s song is one of the bawdiest in all of Shakespeare 3. Gravedigger’s sing a nonsense song as they dig Ophelia’s grave QUEEN How now, Ophelia! OPHELIA [She sings.] "How should I your true love know From another one? By his cockle hat and staff, And his sandal shoon." QUEEN Alas, sweet lady, what imports this song? OPHELIA Say you? nay, pray you, mark. Song. "He is dead and gone, lady, He is dead and gone; At his head a grass-green turf, At his heels a stone."

17 Themes No play in history has generated more commentary than HAMLET Hamlet as religious treatise Hamlet as a cry of despair Hamlet as interrogation into the human condition Hamlet as existentialist tract Hamlet as political document Hamlet as feminist discourse

18 Staging Challenges WHICH TEXT--and how do we cut it? 1. Unauthorized quarto or “bad quarto” (1603) 2. Authorized quarto performed by King’s Men (1604) 3. 1623 Folio is compatible with Q2, about 100 lines shorter The longest of the plays and modern versions are longer than any acted in Shakespeare’s day Play was undoubtedly trimmed in Shakespeare’s time and subsequently modern productions must deal with the length

19 Staging Challenges Hamlet’s Ghost has been used in various ways in different productions including one in which Gertrude was allowed to see the Ghost The dumb show (play within the play) exposes the king Hamlet’s treatment of women is problematic The graveyard scene, if not handled properly can seem absurd and foolish

20 HAMLET onstage

21 Richard Burbage Richard Burbage was the first Hamlet. Was Shakespeare the ghost? Many of the best performances have been documented in print and film beginning with Thomas Betterton in 1661 Richard BurbageThomas Betterton

22 The Elizabethan Era Burbage was the first Hamlet, followed by Joseph Taylor. The Globe theatre seems perfectly designed for the play.

23 17 th and 18 th centuries Betterton played the role into his 70s and played it in “modern” dress Garrick was the most noted Hamlet of the 18th century...but, unlike his other Shakespeare’s edited the text to conform with tastes of Neoclassicism. For example, after killing Claudius, he exonerated Laertes and cut the return of Fortinbras

24 19 th century – romantic hero Coleridge was a great commentator upon the play John Philip Kemble (1783) the first “melancholic” prince Edmund Kean first played the role in 1814 to great acclaim Edwin Booth played the role for 100 performances in NY, a first  Henry Irving (1864) played opposite Ellen Terry as Ophelia and was lavish, set in the 6th century William Poel’s Elizabethan Stage Society production (1881) John Forbes-Robertsoin (1897) restored the Fortinbras subplot

25 Early 20th century John Barrymore triumphed in London and NY (1925) Barry Jackson staged a revolutionary “modern dress” Hamlet (1925) Guthrie Theatre opened in 1964 with a Hamlet in tuxedos and gowns. The title role was played by George Grizzard. Jessica Tandy was Gertrude with Hume Cronyn as Polonius

26 Early 20th century In the 1930s and 40s...Gielgud played role five times as an aristocratic and delicate prince Olivier’s Hamlet, in contrast, was athletic, masculine and passionate

27 Late 20 th Century RSC’s first Hamlet staged in 1965 by Peter Hall. In it, David Warner was very clearly anti-heroic...very much a symbol of his time Nicol Williamson played the role as an outsider on stage and on film In 1975, the RSC cast Ben Kingsley in the role Derek Jacobi (1977) at the Old Vic became basis for 1980 BBC production Michael Pennington (1980) at RSC seemed tame compared to earlier ones

28 Postmodern Hamlets 1965 Theatre of Cruelty (Marowitz) presented Collage Hamlet Joseph Papp’s Naked Hamlet deconstructed the play in 1967  German director Peter Zadek staged the play in an empty factory in 1977 German H. Hayme offered an electronic Hamlet in 1979 Robert Wilson’s Hamlet Monologue (1995) was a one man performance

29 Inspired in part by the Gielgud/Burton, Kevin Klein played Hamlet at the Public Theatre in 1990. It was broadcast on public television.

30 Ralph Feinnes and Jude Law both played Hamlet on Broadway Feinnes played the role in 1995 and Law in 2009.

31 Non-western Hamlets Especially popular in Germany from end of 19th century Performed in Japan since 1880 South Africa productions have been memorable since 1947. Pictured at right, a South African production from 1977.

32 2014 – Benedict Cumberbatch plays Hamlet at Shakespeare’s Globe

33 On Film and Television

34 Silent film Most notably a 1920 Danish film with a female lead, Hamlet, the Drama of Vengance directed by Svend Gade and starring Asta Nielsen is said to have influenced Greta Garbo and Marlene Dietrich

35 1948 1948 (Starring and directed by Laurence Olivier) Oscar-winner for best picture Black and white Highly Freudian and Oedipal

36 1964 - GAMLET A Russian film directed by Grigori Kozintsev with an adaptation by Boris Pasternak

37 1964 – Gielgud directs Burton Director John Gielgud made a film of the NY stage production starring Richard Burton and using minimal staging

38 1967 Director Tony Richardson directed Nicol Williamson as Hamlet and Marianne Faithfull as Ophelia

39 1990 Directed by Franco Zeffirelli and starring Mel Gibson, Alan Bates, Julie Christie, Helena Bonham-Carter

40 1996 Kenneth Branagh was the star and director. He used Blenheim Palace (near Stratford) as Elsinore. It was set in the 19th century with an international cast of stars.

41 1996 Trevor Nunn discusses the title role featuring excerpts by Olivier, Gielgud, Burton, Schell, Williamson, Kingsley and others in a documentary called THE GREAT HAMLETS

42 2000 Director Michael Almereyda directed Ethan Hawke in a film which sets Denmark as a modern corporation in NYC

43 On television 1960--Maximilian Schell played Hamlet on West German television 1970--Peter Wood directed a BBC television production with Richard Chamberlain as Hamlet 1980--Director Rodney Bennett directed for the BBC with Derek Jacobi as Hamlet, Patrick Stewart as Claudius and Claire Bloom as Gertrude 

44 2010 –RSC/PBS Patrick Stewart was once again Claudius in the 2010 RSC production starring David Tennant as Hamlet.

45 Adaptations and spin-offs 1868--Ballet by Ambroise Thomas 1976 pop opera by Cliff Jones called Rockabye Hamlet Many other ballet versions have been staged with music by Berlioz, Liszt, Copland and Tchaikovsky 2000--Choreographer Stephen Mills used music by Philip Glass...action was seen as a flashback by Hamlet as he died

46 Tom Stoppard 1966 – Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead 1977 – Dogg’s Hamlet

47 Other stageplays Poor Murderer (1977) by Czech playwright Pavel Kohout Hamletmachine (1977) by Heiner Muller (Germany) I Hate Hamlet (1993) comedy by Paul Rudnick features ghost of Barrymore Fortinbras (2002) is Lee Blessing’s continuation of the story Gertrude--The Cry (2003) by English “shock” playwright Howard Barker centers on the sexual life of Gertrude

48 Film adaptations To Be Or Not To Be (1942) Ernst Labitsch use a performance of Hamlet by a Polish acting troupe to dupe the Nazis...remade in 1983 by Mel Brooks The Bad Sleep Well (1960) Akira Kurosawa’s version set in modern Japan Johnny Hamlet (1972) an American western A Midwinter’s Tale (1995) a comedy by Kenneth Branagh about an out of work film actor playing Hamlet in a small town church

49 Others… Strange Illusion (1945) an expressionistic film by Edgar Ulmer Blue City (1986) a film noir starring Judd Nelson Let the Devil Wear Black (1999) a film by Michael Almereyda

50 Also… Strange Brew (1983) a comedy with Rich Moranis and Dave Thomas where the foolish protagonists end up at Elsinore Castle, a brewery Outrageous Fortune (1987) a feminist perspective on the play with Bette Midler and Shelley Long The Renaissance Man (1994) uses the play against the background of a group of soldiers in training

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