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2010-2011 SeaSon audience Guide
2010-2011 SeaSon
audience Guide

Shakespeare’s

2010-2011 SeaSon audience Guide Shakespeare’s I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of duality in Shakespeare’s
2010-2011 SeaSon audience Guide Shakespeare’s I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of duality in Shakespeare’s

I’ve always been fascinated by the idea of duality in Shakespeare’s plays. Duality, perhaps, appears in its most quintessential form in Hamlet—the idea of “to be or not to be,” action versus inaction, good versus evil, right versus wrong. Often, the veneer of a society seems to be at odds with the reality beneath the surface; for instance, in many of Stephen King’s books, something very dark lurks just below the seeming tranquility of a sleepy town. I began to look at Hamlet with the notion of “seeming” in mind. Knowing that our Art Department was mounting an exhibition of Edward Gorey’s works, I explored his cache of drawings and saw this same “seeming” embodied in them: what looks like a nice little children’s cartoon is actually a dark tale of death. Hamlet is exactly the same way—what you think you see may not be what is actually there. Hamlet “feigns” madness, but certainly straddles that thin border between sanity and the other side for much of the play, occasionally crossing too far before coming back to an acceptance of “whatever will be, will be.” Claudius “seems” like a good king, but maybe he didn’t fully realize all the problems that come with the job when he decided to murder his brother. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern try to appear like Hamlet’s best buddies, but their hidden agenda isn’t very well hidden. Polonius “seems” to be a good old man with a slight memory defect, but under that cover is a much darker intent. As for Ophelia, there’s more under the surface than just Hamlet’s transformation that drives her over the edge.

Part of choosing to do Hamlet is making sure you’ve got someone or a few people who can handle the demands of the roles. At UHM, I am very lucky that the current crop of actors is very talented and, even better, eager to be challenged. We could have cast this production in any number of ways, and I do hope that all of the actors get a chance later in their careers to take a stab at other roles in the play. However, in playing with the idea of duality, we have double-cast some roles to give more actors a chance to work on this play. Moreover, we are stressing to the actors that the double-cast characters don’t have to be exactly the same—in fact, it’s better if they have distinct differences depending on an individual actor’s interpretation. This strategy forces the other actors on stage to be aware of how all scenes must be played freshly and in the moment. Hamlet’s advice to the players is very apt, and as they strive to hold the mirror up to nature, all the actors will need to be aware, alert, and alive to every moment.

Paul T. Mitri is Associate Professor of Theatre at UHM where he teaches advanced acting styles, voice, and movement. He was the Principal Founder/Past Artistic Director of the Seattle Shakespeare Festival and is the current Artistic Director of All the World’s a Stage Theatre Company.

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A noble hero, an ineffectual crybaby, a guy with psychological issues—who is Hamlet? In the
A noble hero, an ineffectual crybaby, a guy with psychological issues—who is Hamlet? In the

A noble hero, an ineffectual crybaby, a guy with

psychological issues—who is Hamlet? In the introduction

to the third Arden edition of Hamlet, Ann Thompson and

Neil Taylor explain that although “an assumed English

tradition conventionally dominates the history of the play

in performance until the end of the nineteenth century”

(97), the more recent history of Hamlet productions

is rich and varied, international, and influenced by

interpretations, translations and adaptations.

In many parts of the world, productions have been overtly

political, which is not surprising in a century of world wars and revolutions. In countries throughout the Soviet Union, for example, Hamlet was a symbol of resistance, “an intellectual dissident in a totalitarian state” (Thompson and Taylor 116). In 2008, Japanese director Ninagawa Yukio—irritated by the artifice of Japanese actors “donning strange wigs, dying their hair blond, puttying their noses,

and making themselves up in ways incongruous with their Oriental physiognomy”—set the play in the “backstage”

of a theatre, with stacks of cubed dressing rooms and

fluttering curtains. By employing traditional Japanese theatre techniques, primarily “kabuki and bunraku with their flamboyant aesthetics and elaborate theatricality,” Ninagawa emphasized the presentational nature of his production (Brokering 375, 371). In recent Arab productions, King Claudius, who is typically seen as the “bad guy,” is noted for stealing the show as an irresistible villain, such as Richard III or Iago (Litvin 200).

The cinema has seen its share of Hamlets, each one in stark contrast with its predecessor. Laurence Olivier’s 1948 film, noted for its “exploration of relationships between film and theater” (Kliman 305), presents a psychological portrait of Hamlet, emphasized by deep cuts in the script and a Freudian-Oedipal relationship between Hamlet and Gertrude. Kenneth Branagh (1996) chose to film the entire script—a four-hour spectacle with lots of white light and bright open spaces. The innovative 2000 film version by Michael Almereyda features generation X-er Ethan Hawke

as Hamlet, with a modern-day New York City setting, a

corporation called Denmark, and the bulk of the “To be

or not to be” speech delivered in a Blockbuster video store.

According to Kim Fedderson and J. Michael Richardson, “the film feels positively saturated by an impending doom, coming upon the characters from somewhere other than the rottenness within” (162).

from somewhere other than the rottenness within” (162). David Garrick as Hamlet, in a portrait painted

David Garrick as Hamlet, in a portrait painted by Benjamin Wilson and engraved by James McArdell. Published in 1754. Reproduced courtesy of the Library of Congress. Garrick’s terrified reaction to the Ghost revealed his physically expressive acting style.

For centuries, societies and individuals have adapted the play to specific moments. Who Hamlet is now, and what this play represents is for the new generation to decide. One thing is certain: there has been no loss of interest.

References Brokering, Jon M. “Ninagawa Yukio’s Intercultural Hamlet:

Parsing Japanese Iconography.” Asian Theatre Journal 24.2. (2007): 370-397. Fedderson, Kim and J. Michael Richardson. “Hamlet 9/11:

Sound, Noise, and Fury in Almereyda’s Hamlet.” College Literature 31.4 (2004): 150-170. Kliman, Bernice. “Olivier’s Hamlet: A Film-Infused Play.” Literature-Film Quarterly 5 (1977): 305-14. Litvin, Margaret. “When the Villain Steals the Show: The Character of Claudius in Post-1975 Arab(Ic) Hamlet Adaptations.” Journal of Arabic Literature 38:2 (2007): 196-219. Thompson, Ann, and Neil Taylor. “Introduction.” Hamlet. Arden Shakespeare, third Series. London: Methuen Drama, 2006.

Eleanor Svaton is a Creative Writing MA candidate in the Department of English at UHM, with interests in theatre, performance, and publishing. She is the 2010-2011 Abernethy Fellow at Mānoa Journal, the Page to Stage Project Assistant, and dramaturg for the current Hamlet production at Kennedy Theatre.

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Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her generation, took on the title role of
Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her generation, took on the title role of
Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her generation, took on the title role of

Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her generation, took on the title role of Hamlet in 1899, touring to several European cities. Photo reproduced courtesy of the Library of Congress. Bernhardt felt that a mature woman had the ability to combine “the light carriage of youth with the mature thought of the man.”

First staged (1600) at the very outset of the seventeenth century, a century that would see an explosion of scientific and technological innovation and rapid growth in understanding of the natural world, Hamlet was not a passive entertainment but a thrilling confrontation with the mysteries of the supernatural and of the human mind, particularly the skeptical mind of a scholar wrestling with multiple pressures. Margreta de Grazia asserts, “No work in the English canon has been identified so closely with the beginning of the modern age as Hamlet” (485). She further explains,

By speaking his thoughts in soliloquy, by reflecting on his own penchant for thought, by giving others cause to worry about what he is thinking: Hamlet draws attention to what is putatively going on inside him. In recognition of this psychological depth and complexity, Hamlet has been hailed as the inaugural figure of the modern period, ‘an icon of consciousness.’(485)

Hamlet was a student (as was Horatio) at the university in Wittenberg—Luther’s university and the seedbed of the Reformation—when he was presumably called home for his father’s funeral and his mother’s wedding. As de

Grazia further notes, “it is useful to compare him to another

Wittenbergian: Martin Luther,

modern period by turning faith inward. Hamlet’s ‘inwardness’ is the dramatic counterpart to the historical Luther’s ‘introversion of the soul upon itself ’” (495). Hamlet’s dramatic task seems at times to be a metaphysical one as he is compelled again and again to look into himself for answers. His struggle is a complexly constructed harbinger of modern psychological literature.

.] who ushers in the

Despite his bouts of passion and imagination, his flights of strong emotional language, Hamlet’s character continually returns to the reflective, skeptical approach of the trained scholar. In his first encounter with the ghost, Hamlet declares he will call it “father” (1.4.24). In a more reflective frame of mind, however, he decides he must have further proof of Claudius’s guilt lest the devil, “who is very potent with such spirits, Abuses me to damn me” (2.2.591-592). And in his most famous soliloquy, Hamlet describes death as “The undiscovered country, from whose bourn No traveler returns” (3.1.80-81), bold language that suggests the utmost limit of human knowledge.

Hamlet’s character guides the audience across a shifting metaphysical landscape that leads to a kind of peaceful acceptance of imperfect knowledge and recurring doubt. His assertion that there is “a special providence in the fall of a sparrow” (5.2.166-167), an allusion to Matthew 10:29, suggests a recognition of an unfathomable and powerful divine order. This sort of epiphany is common to tragic heroes from Oedipus to Job, individuals whose behavior in the face of their own imperfection becomes a paean to the human spirit. Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a figure in whom generations have “found” a compelling dramatization of the individual’s heroic struggle with the stressful doubts that so often mark the human condition.

Reference De Grazia, Margreta. “When Did Hamlet Become Modern?” Textual Practice 17.3 (2003): 485-503.

Author of a number of articles on children and early modern

English drama, Mark Lawhorn is Associate Professor of English at Kapi‘olani Community College. His most recent published work appeared in Shakespeare and Childhood from Cambridge

University Press and in Journal of British Studies.

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Daniel A. Kelin II as Hamlet and Jillian Sakamoto as Gertrude in the 1989 Kennedy
Daniel A. Kelin II as Hamlet and Jillian Sakamoto as Gertrude in the 1989 Kennedy
Daniel A. Kelin II as Hamlet and Jillian Sakamoto as Gertrude in the 1989 Kennedy

Daniel A. Kelin II as Hamlet and Jillian Sakamoto as Gertrude in the 1989 Kennedy Theatre production. Photo: Malcolm Mekaru.

Hamlet the character is tough on women. His remark, “Frailty, thy name is Woman” (1.2.146), is often quoted as if it were Shakespeare’s view of women, but Hamlet says those lines when he is so distracted by his mother’s remarriage that he contradicts himself about how long his father has been dead (first he says two months, then under a month). He is consistently an unreliable judge of women, which makes it difficult to arrive at a reliable assessment of Gertrude. What do we know about her apart from Hamlet’s opinions? Was she in on the murder?

Hamlet learns about the murder from his father’s ghost, but the same ghost cautions him not to “taint” his “mind nor let thy soul contrive / Against thy mother aught; leave her to heaven / And to those thorns that in her bosom lodge / To prick and sting her” (1.5.85-88). Old Hamlet warns his son not to become preoccupied with her guilt, but Hamlet is unable to act on the advice. In the bedroom scene following The Murder of Gonzago (the play within the play), Hamlet lets her have it. First he objects to her marrying her husband’s brother because she has violated the prohibited degrees of consanguinity according to Christian tradition. He is correct that the marriage would have been deemed incestuous at the time. Then he charges her with killing a king. Her response turns his accusation into a question: “As kill a king?” (3.4.28).

Gertrude seems shocked by the allegation. In the first printed edition of Hamlet, published in 1603, her character is given the lines, “I sweare by heauen / I neuer

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knew of this most horride murder” (note to 3.4.28). In the later editions of 1604-05 and 1623 she is not so explicit, but she asks what she could have done to prompt Hamlet’s rebuke. She seems to know nothing of the murder. Yet Hamlet continues his obsessive accusations about her and Claudius. It is only when the ghost returns, demanding that Hamlet cease his attacks and “step between” his mother and “her fighting soul” (3.4.109), that he finally quits.

Gertrude is a confused, grieving widow, easily led, who turns much too quickly to another sexual partner. Manipulated by Claudius, who wants the queen so he can better secure the crown, she marries without realizing how that choice might hurt her son or compromise her own reputation. She is not innocent, but neither is she an accessory to the killing. Just as the ghost feared, Hamlet’s mind becomes tainted with thinking about his mother’s sexual union but the play does offer us some critique of his position. It is kinder to Gertrude than her son is.

Reference Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor. Arden Shakespeare, third Series. London:

Methuen Drama, 2006.

Valerie Wayne has recently retired as a Professor of English at the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. A member of the editorial board of Shakespeare Quarterly and past president of the Society for the Study of Early Modern Women, she has edited or co- edited five books, including Staging Early Modern Romance: Prose Fiction, Dramatic Romance, and Shakespeare (Routledge, 2009) and Thomas Middleton: The Collected Works (Oxford University Press, 2007). She is currently preparing an edition of Cymbeline for the Arden Shakespeare, third Series.

At the end of Hamlet , Fortinbras orders that Hamlet’s body be borne from the
At the end of Hamlet , Fortinbras orders that Hamlet’s body be borne from the

At the end of Hamlet, Fortinbras orders that Hamlet’s

body be borne from the stage like a soldier and that he be given a military funeral accompanied by soldiers’ music and the rites of war. We don’t see this ceremony in most productions, but the command poses a question: is Hamlet

a conventional hero? Fortinbras says he is, but Fortinbras hardly knows him. Like Laertes, Fortinbras is a man of action, and both characters function as Hamlet’s foils.

Since the play of Hamlet is a tragedy and Hamlet is its

central character, he is a tragic hero, but what does that mean? It doesn’t mean that Hamlet has a “tragic flaw” (a troublesome term associated with Aristotle’s harmatia), because that notion of a hero who makes one big mistake

is usually associated with Greek tragedy and even there

is often reductively applied. Perhaps the more important question is not what Hamlet does wrong, but what he does right. What makes him a hero deserving of our

sympathy and respect?

After Hamlet encounters his father’s ghost and is told of the murder, his famous “To be, or not to be” speech becomes a debate about whether he should endure his outrageous fortune or “take arms against a sea of troubles.” But the person he imagines taking arms against is himself. When he decides to go on living and “bear those ills we have” rather than “fly to others that we know not of,” he admits that the “enterprises of great pitch and moment” he envisioned have faded and his goals have lost “the name of action” (3.1.55-59, 80-87). In one sense, he does nothing; but in another, he poses eloquently some of the largest questions that humans can ask about life and death and what comes afterwards.

Hamlet makes choices that are ethically suspect when he refuses to kill Claudius because he is praying and later rewrites a commission so that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern will go to their deaths. The play poses questions about these actions but does not resolve them. It also critiques military leaders like Fortinbras for sending 20,000 men to their senseless deaths (4.4.58- 64); it explores the futile consequences of heroic action; yet it ends with the grim prospect of Fortinbras ruling Denmark. Its strength, rather like Hamlet himself, is in the brilliant complexity with which it confronts these problems. If Hamlet is a hero, that is because of how astutely he relates his immediate predicaments to

of how astutely he relates his immediate predicaments to Daniel A. Kelin II as Hamlet in

Daniel A. Kelin II as Hamlet in the 1985 production of Hamlet at Kennedy Theatre, directed by Terence Knapp. Photo: Malcolm Mekaru.

larger human dilemmas, how brutally honest he is about his own shortcomings, how perceptive he is about the mean-spirited deceptions and delusions of those around him, who would “pluck out the heart of [his] mystery” (3.2.357-58), and how slow he is to act until he believes the time is right. He is no conventional action hero and no soldier, but watching that bristling intellect debate the principles of heroic action creates a show unlike any other.

Reference Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. Ed. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor. Arden Shakespeare, third Series. London:

Methuen Drama, 2006.

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Moderated by Dr. Valerie Wayne, these presentations feature cast members performing scenes from the play

Moderated by Dr. Valerie Wayne, these presentations feature

cast members performing scenes from the play as the catalyst to

a discussion. Co-sponsored by HCH, AWS, UHM Outreach

College and the Friends of the Library of Hawai‘i. Mid-October 2010, at public libraries on O‘ahu

Hawai‘i. Mid-October 2010, at public libraries on O‘ahu • Saturday November 6 2010 “Rogues, Fair Maidens,

• Saturday November 6 2010

“Rogues, Fair Maidens, and Guilty Creatures: Hamlet on Theatre” by Valerie Wayne

Free to the public

• Saturday November 20 2010

“Hamlet’s Global Reach” by Eleanor Svaton Times: 6:30 pm Location: Earle Ernst Lab Theatre Free to the public

Website for Kennedy Theatre Hamlet Production:

https://sites.google.com/site/hamletuhmkennedy2010/

https://sites.google.com/site/hamletuhmkennedy2010/ Hamlet by William Shakespeare Directed by Paul T. Mitri

Hamlet by William Shakespeare Directed by Paul T. Mitri Kennedy Theatre November 5, 6, 20, December 3 at 7:30pm; November 14, December 5 at 2pm

Page to Stage projects for Hamlet and Waiting for Godot are the joint project of the UHM Department of Theatre and Dance and All the World’s a Stage Theatre Company. We gratefully acknowledge funding from the Hawai‘i Council for the Humanities. Co-sponsors include the UHM Department of English , UHM Osher Lifelong Learning Project, the Hawai‘i State Public Library System (HSPLS), Friends of the Library of Hawai‘i, and the Community Services Division of Outreach College

and the Community Services Division of Outreach College 6 For additional resources, see the endnotes to
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and the Community Services Division of Outreach College 6 For additional resources, see the endnotes to

For additional resources, see the endnotes to articles in this Audience Guide.

BOOKS Hamlet. Eds. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor. The Arden Shakespeare, third Series. London: Methuen Drama, 2006. The most complete, scholarly edition. Hamlet. Ed. Jonathan Bate and Eric Rasmussen. New York:

Modern Library, 2008. Scene-by-scene analysis and performance history. Hamlet. Ed. Suzanne L. Wofford. Case Studies in Contemporary Criticism. Boston: Bedford Books-St. Martin’s Press, 1994. Shapiro, James. A Year in the Life of William Shakespeare: 1599. New York: HarperCollins, 2005. Teaching Hamlet, Henry IV, Part I. Ed. Peggy O’Brien. Shakespeare Set Free Series. Folger Shakespeare Library. New York: Washington Square, 1994.

ONLINE RESOURCES “Folger Shakespeare Library Lesson Plans” for Hamlet. (Enter Hamlet in search box.) http://www.folger.edu/eduLesPlansearch.cfm “Hamlet Online.”

http://www.tK421.net/hamlet/hamlet.html

“Hamlet on the Ramparts.” M.I.T. Shakespeare Project. http://shea.mit.edu/ramparts/welcome.htm Royal Shakespeare Company, including sections on Hamlet, Shakespeare’s Life, Work, and past productions. http://www.rsc.org.uk/explore/hamlet “Study Guide: Hamlet.” Folger Shakespeare Library.

http://www.folger.edu/Content/Teach-and-Learn/Teaching-

Resources/Study-Guides/Hamlet

VIDEO Almereyda, Michael, dir. Hamlet. Miramax Films, 2000. DVD. Branagh, Kenneth, dir. Hamlet. Columbia Pictures, 1996. DVD. Doran, Gregory, dir. Hamlet. BBC-Worldwide, 2010. Royal Shakespeare Company production starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. DVD. Olivier, Laurence, dir. Hamlet. Universal Pictures, 1948. DVD.

starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. DVD. Olivier, Laurence, dir. Hamlet . Universal Pictures, 1948. DVD.
starring David Tennant and Patrick Stewart. DVD. Olivier, Laurence, dir. Hamlet . Universal Pictures, 1948. DVD.