The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 8.0990. Thursday, 2 October 1997.
From: W. L. Godshalk <
Date: Wednesday, 01 Oct 1997 09:03:47 -0400
Subject: Some Notes on the CSF Hamlet
The Cincinnati Shakespeare Festival's Hamlet
September 18 through October 12, 1997, at the Aronoff Center in
Jill Westerby --- Francisco, Ophelia
Aaron Todd Douglas --- Barnardo, Guildenstern
William Sweeney --- Ghost of Hamlet, Player King, Norwegian Captain,
C. Charles Scheeren --- Marcellus, Player Queen, Fortinbras, Gravedigger
C. Chris Reeder --- Horatio
Jay Apking --- Claudius
Nicole Franklin-Kern --- Gertrude
Regina Cerimele --- Voltemand, Rosencrantz, Osric
Kris Lewin --- Laertes, Third Player (Lucianus)
Dan Kenney --- Polonius, Priest, English Ambassador
Marni Penning --- Hamlet
In this production, Hamlet is played as a woman by a woman. The Ghost
of Hamlet merges with the Player King, the Captain, and the Gravedigger;
each is a manifestation of the former king.
The thrones and the grave are on the same spot. The thrones are tipped
back to reveal the grave which accommodates both King Hamlet and
Some while ago, one of our members suggested that the business of a
production is worth recording. What follows is a partial record of the
business in the CSF Hamlet.
1.1.21-22: ". . . is Horatio there?' "A piece of him." Horatio is
clowning; hiding all but his head from Barnardo, Horatio pretends to be
1.2.8: "now our queen"-at this moment Claudius slips a pendant with his
picture in miniature over Gertrude's neck.
1.2.25: "So much for him," i.e., Fortinbras. Claudius hands
Fortinbras's letter to Laertes who tears it in pieces.
1.2.35: Claudius produces his own letter.
1.2.63: "spend" - Claudius gives Laertes a check.
1.2.102: "As of a father" - Claudius embraces Hamlet.
1.2.121: "a loving and a fair reply"-Claudius moves between Gertrude
and Hamlet taking their hands-a family scene!
1.2.160: "I am glad to see you well." Hamlet is leaving stage left, and
so does not fully see Horatio before the next line.
1.3.57: "There, my blessing" - Polonius gives Laertes money. Later this
was changed, and Polonius gives him the money after "Neither a borrower
nor a lender be" (75).
1.5.91: "Adieu, adieu, adiew. Remember me." At this point, the Ghost
gives Hamlet his signet ring. Hamlet gives up the ring in 5.1.
1.5.196: "the time is out of joint" - the tolling of the bells is
disjointed (This was later cut.)
2.2.5: "Hamlet's transformation-so I call it" - In this production, the
royal family resists admitting that Hamlet is mad. The Queen shows her
displeasure at the word.
3.1.56: Hamlet enters with a message in hand, apparently from Polonius
to request her presence. When he does not appear, she crumples it and
throws it at the base of the throne. "Where's your father?" (130).
Hamlet asks the question when she notices the crumpled letter and
realizes that this is a setup.
"To be or not to be"-Hamlet draws a pistol and points it at Claudius's
throne when she says, "take arms against a sea of trouble" (59).
3.2.92: When the king enters, Hamlet is pointedly sitting on his
3.2.263: "Give me some light. Away." In this production, Claudius aims
the "Away" at his entourage and, perhaps, the Player King, whom he
flings aside as he confronts Hamlet. (The Player King reminds Claudius
of his brother.) Gertrude draws Claudius away to protect Hamlet from his
3.2.375: "They fool me to the top of my bent" is not an aside, but
spoken to Polonius about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
3.2.387: the Player King gives Hamlet his sword. "Now could I drink hot
blood" is spoken to the Player King.
3.4.24: Polonius dies in front of the thrones, and at 4.1.1, Gertrude is
wiping up blood from the floor. She is in tears as she says to
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, "Bestow this place on us a little while"
4.3.39: "A will stay till you come." Hamlet makes it evident that "you"
is Claudius. It's a threat.
5.1.206: "Imperious Caesar" - in this production, this is a reference to
Old King Hamlet, who, as the Gravedigger, disappears into his own grave.
5.2. In the final moments, the Ghost enters and takes the body of Hamlet
from Horatio. Horatio exits and his shadow is seen behind the thrones.
The Ghost sits on his throne, holding Hamlet's dead body. The house
lights go out.
For more information, www.iac.net/~csf