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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: March ::
*Hamlet* Questions
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0217.  Thursday, 16 March 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Albert Misseldine <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 14 Mar 1995 14:05:43 -0500
        Subj:   A Couple of *Hamlet* Questions
 
(2)     From:   Shenandoah Shakespeare Express <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 15 Mar 1995 12:09:10 -0500
        Subj:   Hamlet folk song
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Albert Misseldine <
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Date:           Tuesday, 14 Mar 1995 14:05:43 -0500
Subject:        A Couple of *Hamlet* Questions
 
There were things I liked about Mel Gibson's *Hamlet*, and the critics treated
it kindly for the most part. But there was one thing that seemed really wrong
to me, and I haven't seen it discussed. (Of course, I may have missed it). When
Hamlet and Laertes fight at the end, they are swinging at each other with
murderous intent, and with broadswords, not rapiers (bated or unbated). Anyway,
the way they were swinging bated or unbated would make no difference. Might as
well bate a battle-ax. And yet they say all the lines, and what a mockery the
fight makes of Hamlet's "These foils have all a length?"
 
Another question, just on *Hamlet*. Are we supposed to accept as plausible
Claudius's confident assurance to Laertes that Gertrude will accept Hamlet 's
death as an accident? What excuse did Claudius have in mind - Laertes (and/or
Osric) didn't notice that the sword was sharp. And how explain the little
matter of the poison, just in case Laertes doesn't get Hamlet through a vital
part, and Hamlet dies of a scratch? Or was Claudius intending to double-cross
Laertes? Or what?
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Shenandoah Shakespeare Express <
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Date:           Wednesday, 15 Mar 1995 12:09:10 -0500
Subject:        Hamlet folk song
 
Does anyone know who wrote the Hamlet folk song?  We are performing it at the
beginning of our Hamlet and we would love to know the name of the author. Here
are the first lyrics:            "There was a king nodding in his garden all
alone when his brother in his ear poured a little bit of henbane, stole his
brothers crown and his money and his widow, but the dead king walked and got
his son and said listen kiddo ... Hamlet, Hamlet..."  It has a fast tempo, you
have to listen to it several times to understand it all.  We will appreciate
any help we receive on this!  Thanks.
 
[In July of 1993, I posted my transcribed lyrics of the "Three-Minute HAMLET"
(below) At that time, James Schaefer reported hearing the song sung by Michael
Cooney on an old *Prairie Home Companion*, and John Drakakis identified the
author as Glaswegian Adam McNaughton.  Normally, I would use this opportunity
to praise the Database function of LISTSERV, encouraging members to use it to
find the information, but for storage reasons, those logs are not currently
available at the University of Toronto and will not be until our move to Bowie
State.  --HMC
 
PS: Just from the lines produced, I find already one error in transcription,
which I have corrected.]
 
===============================================================================
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 4, No. 422.  Monday, 12 July 1993.
 
From:           Hardy M. Cook <
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Date:           Monday, July 12, 1993
Subject:        "The Three-Minute HAMLET"
 
SHAKSPEReans,
 
To brighten up the summer lull, I'm sending out a transcription of
"The Three-Minute HAMLET," a song recorded by Shamus Kennedy at
Washington, D.C.'s Ireland's Four Provinces.  In the segue, Kennedy
identifies that song as being "written by a Scottish school teacher
of English."  Kennedy goes on to say that the teacher "could never
interest his class in Shakespeare, so he wrote this song to see if
he could get the buggers' attention for at least three minutes."
 
A student of mine gave me a tape of this song last year, so I don't
have any information about the album or the name of the Scottish
school teacher, both of which I would welcome.
 
Any errors in transcribing the lyrics are clearly mine own.  I would
like to thank my daughter Melissa for helping me get the words down.
Her ear and her ability to memorize lines are fair superior to my own,
and I cheerfully acknowledge my debt to her.
 
 
********************************************************************
               The Three-Minute HAMLET
 
There was a king nodding in his garden all alone,
When his brother in his ear poured a little bit of henbane,
Stole his brother's crown and his money and his widow,
But the dead king walked and got his son and said, "Now, listen, Kiddo.
I've been killed and it's your duty to take revenge on Claudius;
Kill him quick and clean; and tell the nation what a fraud he is."
The kid said, "Right, I'll do it, but I'll have to play it crafty,
So no one will suspect me I'll let on that I'm a dafty."
 
So for all except Horatio, and he counts him as a friend,
Hamlet, that's the kid, lets on he's round the bend;
And because he's not yet willing for obligatory killing,
He tries to make his uncle think he's tuppence off the shilling;
Takes a rise out of Polonius; treats poor Ophelia vile;
Tells Rosencrantz and Gildenstern that Denmark's "Bloody vile";
Then a troop of traveling actors, like Seven-Eighty-four,
Arrived to do a special one, that gig at Elsinore.
 
Hamlet, Hamlet, acting balmy.
Hamlet, Hamlet, loves his mommy.
Hamlet, Hamlet, hesitating,
He wonders if the ghost's a fake, and that is why he's waiting.
 
So Hamlet writes a scene for the players to enact,
So Horatio and he could watch and see if Claudius cracked.
The play was called "The Mousetrap," not the one that running now,
And sure enough, the King walked out before the scene was through.
Now, Hamlet's got to prove his uncle gave his dad the dose.
The only trouble being now that Claudius knows he knows.
So while Hamlet tells his mommy her new husband's not a fit man,
Uncle Claud takes out a contract with the English King as hit-man.
 
Hamlet, Hamlet killed Polonius and hid corpus delicti.
'Twas the King's excuse to send him for an English hempen necktie
With Rosencrantz and Gildenstern to make quite sure he got there,
But Hamlet jumped the boat and put the finger straight on that pair.
When Laertes heard his dad's killed in the bedroom by the arras,
He comes running back to Elsinore tout de suite hot-foot from Paris.
And Ophelia with her dad killed by the man she was to marry,
After saying it with flowers, she committed hari-kari.
 
Hamlet, Hamlet, ain't no messin'.
Hamlet, Hamlet, learned his lesson.
Hamlet, Hamlet, Yorrick's trust.
Convinced them all men good or bad at last must come to dust.
 
Then Laertes lost his cool and was demanding retribution.
The King said, "Keep your head, and I'll supply you with solutions."
So he arranged a sword fight for the interested parties
With a blunted sword for Hamlet and a sharp one for Laertes.
And to make double sure that the old-belt-and-brace was limed,
He arranged a poison sword tip and a poisoned cup of wine.
The poison sword got Hamlet but Laertes went and fluffed it
'Cause he got stabbed himself and he confessed before he snuffed it.
Now, Hamlet's mommy drank the wine, and as her face turned blue,
Hamlet said, "I think this King's a baddy through and through."
Well, "Incestuous, murd'rous, damned Dane," he said to be precise
And made up for hesitating once by killing Claudius twice,
'Cause he stabbed him with his knife and forced the wine between his lips,
And he said, "The rest is silence," and he cashed in all his chips;
And they fired a volley over him that shook the top-most rafter;
And Fortinbras, knee-deep in Danes, lived happy ever after.
 
Hamlet, Hamlet, end of story.
Hamlet, Hamlet, very gory.
Hamlet, Hamlet, I'm on my way.
And if you think that was confusing, you should read the bloody play.
From:   MX%"
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 " 15-MAR-1995 13:09:04.85
To:     HMCOOK
CC:
Subj:   Goodnight, Desdemona, Good Morning, Juliet
 
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Date: Wed, 15 Mar 1995 13:02:17 -0500
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From: 
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  (Norman J. Myers)
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Subject: Goodnight, Desdemona, Good Morning, Juliet
 
The Bowling Green State University Theatre Department will be opening its
95-96 season with a production of GOODNIGHT DESDEMONA, GOOD MORNING JULIET
by the Canadian playwright, An Marie MacDonald.  I know that the play was
first produced in Toronto around 1990, and I'm trying to find out if there
have been any productions in the United States.  The Shakespearean
connection is that the main character is trapped in a time warp and is
deposited in the middle of original productions of OTHELLO and R & J.
 
Thanks in advance.  You can reply directly to me unless you think other
SHAKSPERians would be interested.
 
Norman Myers
Professor, Theatre
Bowling Green State University
Bowling Green, Ohio 43403

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