Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Reflections on HAMLET -- and HAMLET, REVISITED!

Hamlet continues to invite variants of the text as well as setting and modes of delivery.  Tom Stoppard’s Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (1966) gave rise to the film version (1990).  Recent developments have been yet more audacious.

The Hamlet Project sets the drama in a bar.  Tim Donnelly’s New York Post article, “The Bar’s the Thing Wherein You’ll Catch Hamlet,” alludes directly to “[a] return to the days of the groundlings”; the New York Times’ Ken Jaworowski began his review, “Seeing Hamlet with a Twist or Even a Raised Mug,” with this candid confession:  “During my fifth beer, ‘The Hamlet Project’ got even funnier.”  [The latter article can be read at:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/16/theater/reviews/the-hamlet-project-is-a-twist-on-the-shakespeare-classic.html?_r=0.
  
More recently came Annie Dorsen’s A Piece of Work.  Here the gimmick is Hamlet delivered at the mercies and whims of the computer.  A different, computer-altered text is transmitted to the actors via earpiece, and not even the actor in the title role knows precisely how the words may be scrambled.  Claudia La Rocco’s review, “To Thine Own Algorithm Be True,” appears at http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/16/theater/annie-dorsens-a-piece-of-work-at-bam.html.

Not to be outdone, the redoubtable Times next sponsored an Instagram contest, in which students uploaded 15-second videos of themselves delivering excerpts from the play.  A brief video of favorite submissions (“To be, or not to be,” delivered by respondents of both genders) is embedded within “Young Soulds Portray the Wit of Hamlet, with Brevity,” by Michael Roston and Erik Piepenburg:  http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/20/theater/hamlet-student-instagram-videos.html.

Given these recent developments, I can but hope my own version, Hamlet, Revisited:  A Familiar Tragedy, but in One Act, will begin to garner more interest.  It is available via Kindle:  http://www.amazon.com/Hamlet-Revisited-Familiar-Tragedy-But-ebook/dp/B00BDDKUTY/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1388603727&sr=1-1&keywords=Hamlet%2C+Revisited%3A+A+Familiar+Tragedy%2C+but+in+One+Act.

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