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Home :: Archive :: 1995 :: October ::
Re: Hamlet, Luther, and Faustus at Wittenberg
Shakespeare Electronic Conference, Vol. 6, No. 0838. Wednesday, 25 October 1995.
 
(1)     From:   Chris Strofilno <
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        Date:   Tuesday, 24 Oct 1995 21:50:29 -0400 (EDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 6.0833  Re: Hamlet, Luther, and Faustus at Wittenberg
 
(2)     From:   David Evett <R0870%
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        Date:   Wednesday, 25 Oct 1995 13:15 ET
        Subj:   SHK 6.0833  Re: Hamlet, Luther,
 
 
(1)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Chris Strofilno <
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Date:           Tuesday, 24 Oct 1995 21:50:29 -0400 (EDT)
Subject: 6.0833  Re: Hamlet, Luther, and Faustus at Wittenberg
Comment:        Re: SHK 6.0833  Re: Hamlet, Luther, and Faustus at Wittenberg
 
There's a book by John o'Meara called OTHERWORLDLY HAMLET that deals with
Luther as a possible influence on S..... cs.
 
(2)----------------------------------------------------------------------------
From:           David Evett <R0870%
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Date:           Wednesday, 25 Oct 1995 13:15 ET
Subject: Re: Hamlet, Luther,
Comment:        SHK 6.0833  Re: Hamlet, Luther,
 
In the mid-70s the Stratford Shakespeare Festival set _Hamlet_ in a Calvinistic
rather than Lutheran northern Europe, with everybody very firmly buttoned up in
black clothes with little tight ruffs and caps all round.  I don't know what
the dramaturgical basis was; certainly it was very much opposite the Tony
Richardson approach of a few years earlier, which had a licentious court given
to booze, lechery, even incest.  The most famous feature of that production is
the strait-jacket worn by Marti Maraden as Ophelia mad--the familiar canvas and
straps, but also a wooden bar through the sleeves on which she was in effect
crucified; she has somewhere written about her discontent as an actor at having
to wear so restricting and physically uncomfortable a costume.  At any rate,
what I remember best about the production (apart from the late Nicholas Pennell
as an unusually sweet and tender prince, whose death moved me more than most
I've seen) was the treatment of Polonius, no fool but a version of Lord
Burghley, erect and severe, very much the King's First Secretary (during the
public part of 1.2 he took notes at a stand-up desk, and had the ambassadors'
papers all drawn up and sealed and ready to go).  His valediction to Laertes
and his handling of the Ophelia-Hamlet affair were shot through with prurience,
but only as it were peeking around the edges of an austere moralism.  His
death, therefore, was more consequential than had he been a mere "prating
fool."  All this carries some suggestion that the Hamletii occupy a position
that is theologically distict from that of the Claudii, variously more genial
and relaxed.
 
Severely,
Dave Evett
 

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