Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Hamlet" a Director's Note

Director’s Note:

Hamlet is Shakespeare's best known work: the most widely performed of his tragedies, and the topic of scholarly commentary sufficient to cover--if burned onto CDs--the state of Utah. Besides notoriety, Hamlet celebrates an Urstatus. From Hamlet, modern drama descended. Hamletintroduces the inner monologue: the soliloquy from which audiences learn how a character thinks, ponders, considers his predicament—tells them who he is.

Most importantly, it is a fine play. Hamlet has vivid characters, unanswered questions, arresting wit, a whole-grain plot, and a title role reserved for the very gifted and, preferably, the very self-absorbed. Shakespeare presents a man, mad with grief over his father's death and floored by his mother's tastelessly quick remarriage. In Hamlet, Shakespeare creates a new generation turning toward the Renaissance, in opposition to the old feudalism. Hamlet is a student intellectual oppressed by an older generation whose lives are governed by political expediency and by military force. He's an aristocrat, who's rebelled against his class by going to a forward-thinking University and making friends with commoners, by falling in love with a politician's daughter, and by hanging around with actors. As a man, Hamlet is everything that the world of politics and soldiering isn't. His world is bound by feelings and intellect, and--like most young people, he's inflamed by the compromises and the duplicities of the adult world.

Our production was fraught with disasters: actors stricken with food poisoning, chest pain, automobile accidents (3), Panic Attacks, better-paying offers, and an actual broken leg--the last suffered by Hamlet himself while rehearsing the fencing scene two weeks from our originally scheduled opening in January. Many of these disasters left us seeking replacement personnel. Through it all, five of the original actors and five original staff members remained for what unexpectedly totaled nine months of rehearsal.

Now, the birth.

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