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Home :: Archive :: 2000 :: September ::
Re: Hamlet Interval
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 11.1639  Friday, 1 September 2000.

[1]     From:   Mike Jensen <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Aug 2000 08:55:46 -0700
        Subj:   SHK 11.1624 Re: Stratford Festival Hamlet

[2]     From:   Pervez Rizvi <
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        Date:   Thursday, 31 Aug 2000 17:57:02 +0100
        Subj:   RE: SHK 11.1624 Re: Stratford Festival Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Mike Jensen <
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Date:           Thursday, 31 Aug 2000 08:55:46 -0700
Subject: Re: Stratford Festival Hamlet
Comment:        SHK 11.1624 Re: Stratford Festival Hamlet

Yes, the placing of the interval in Stratford, Ontario's current Hamlet
is strange.  The afternoon I saw it, there were a couple of gasps from
the audience as the lights dimmed.  The striking (pun not intended, but
let's go for it anyway) image of a freeze as Hamlet raises his sword
over Claudius was clearly effective to some audience members, including
the woman behind me who had never read or seen the play.

The scene, however, seemed to lack energy when the resumed.  Hamlet
blinks, or was that a fidget?, and lowers his sword.  Turning the scene
into a cliff-hanger put pressure on the scene it was not written to
bear.  It is written as an anti-climax that becomes a transition when
Hamlet bides his time so he may send Claudius to Hell.  Breaking it up
made the anti-climax even greater, too great, I thought.

I should admit that I know the play pretty well, so the break set off
many thoughts and concerns for me.  Others in the audience may have
experienced it differently.

The first time I visited Ashland I saw an otherwise very good Romeo and
Juliet that similarly broke right after Romeo killed Tybalt.  The stage
was clogged with both families and the Price.  Freeze.  Blackout.
Actors clear the stage.  20 minutes later, the actors resume their
positions, including the deceased Tybalt, and the scene continues.  It
lost all the frantic energy that scene can have as death is followed by
accusation, and accusation by banishment, one leading feverishly to the
next.  This was the medicine that broke the fever, and the audience was
the loser in a production that was in other ways the best I have seen of
that play.

All the best,
Mike Jensen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Pervez Rizvi <
 This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
 >
Date:           Thursday, 31 Aug 2000 17:57:02 +0100
Subject: 11.1624 Re: Stratford Festival Hamlet
Comment:        RE: SHK 11.1624 Re: Stratford Festival Hamlet

>In act 3, scene 3, Hamlet walks in on the
>praying Claudius, says "now I'll do it," draws his sword, raises it over
>Claudius's head, and--lo, and behold!--the lights go down for
>intermission. <snip> Have any other listmembers seen Hamlets with this
>"cliffhanger" intermission?

I saw a production of Hamlet in London in 1980 (or possibly 1981), at
the Young Vic (or possibly the Old Vic), with Edward Fox as the prince.
In 3.3, Hamlet entered around the time that the King knelt down to pray
("Bow stubborn knees" etc.), stood behind him, and the interval
intervened. After the break, both actors resumed their positions and
Hamlet continued with "Now might I do it pat". The production got bad
reviews and this novelty was one thing the critics seized upon.
 

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