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|GR: A little Hamlet levity (and I blame Cheryl) ;-)
Written by Ana L
(6/5/2003 5:09 p.m.)
I got a kick out of an interview he gave to National Public Radio when Hamlet, the movie, opened. The movie is over four hours long, so all of the dialogue is there. But, he talks about the difficulties performing in a stage production of Hamlet that has been chopped up and shortened to 2 or 2-1/2 hours.
He called it a "panic-making" experience:
"...'cause it was very alarming to see these great sort of set-pieces be so close to each other. But a lot of the sort of big famous bits still in. And partly because of the cuts, but mostly 'cause this is the way it goes, they are very close to each other. You suddenly do the 'rogue and peasant slave' soliloquy, which is an extraordinary piece of writing in which the actor, I suppose, is required to strike 12. You've got to give it all you've got, 'cause there he is trying to work himself up into a state where he can revenge his father. You finish that. You come off, and you come on immediately to 'to be or not to be' -- a meditative, reflective speech which, in a sense, could be taken out of the play. It doesn't advance the plot at all. Again, naked, but in a very different way, 'cause you can't do all that ranting and raving. And it's the most famous speech ever written, probably.
"And I found that all these things coming so close together meant that for me, the experience of the part, to begin with, was a sort of obstacle course."
Then, he goes on to describe the difficulties in remembering all the words, and how actors often amuse themsevles with the script:
"...of course, you don't always remember it in the right order, and frequently the actors paraphrase accidentally.
"When Gertrude first talks to Hamlet in the court scene, she says: 'Hamlet, cast off thy nighted color.' And I was in a production with someone that Gertrude said: 'Hamlet, cast off thy colored nighty.' Then there are a whole series of characters in the play -- secret characters. There's a dog in the closet scene, or at least so actors would have you believe, because the ghost says to Hamlet: 'but look, amazement on thy mother sits,' so this little dog called 'Amazement,' we believed, populates the play.
"Then there are classic characters -- the Hamlet charwoman, 'Elsie Nore.'" (The name of the castle -- get it?)
"In another part, somebody says: 'they came with martial stork, across the plains.' So "Marshall Stork" is another general who's in there. And also Horatio's girl friend, Felicity. At the end, Hamlet says to Horatio before, as Horatio's attempting to commit suicide, he says: 'Absent thee from Felicity Awhile.' Her second name is 'Awhile.' 'Felicity Awhile' -- Horatio's girl friend. The hidden meaning in Hamlet."
Good to know that Kenneth -- often described as driven -- can also have some fun with the Bard's words.
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