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Home :: Archive :: 2001 :: June ::
Re: Beale's Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 12.1399  Thursday, 7 June 2001

[1]     From:   Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Jun 2001 11:54:36 -0700 (PDT)
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1388 Re: Beale's Hamlet

[2]     From:   Vick Bennison <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 06 Jun 2001 15:03:56 EDT
        Subj:   Re: SHK 12.1388 Re: Beale's Hamlet

[3]     From:   Ray Eston Smith <
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        Date:   Wednesday, 6 Jun 2001 20:16:44 -0700
        Subj:   Re: Beale's Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Karen Peterson-Kranz <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Jun 2001 11:54:36 -0700 (PDT)
Subject: 12.1388 Re: Beale's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1388 Re: Beale's Hamlet

I have my tickets to go see the Caird/Beale *Hamlet* on 27 June.  That
being the case, I am reading what reviews I come across.

Since I haven't seen the yet, I can make no conclusion.  But I wanted to
offer another critic's view of the production design, as a counterpoint
to John Heilpern's comments in the *New York Observer*.

Nicholas de Jonghe, in the *Evening Standard,* wrote:

"The back -walls are windowless panels, those at the side composed of
bars. Candelabra lights swing up and down from the ceiling. The first
scene, to the accompaniment of John Cameron's dirge-like, sacred music
that keeps recurring through the action, springs a surprise. There are
spotlit figures in what look like upright coffins, who emerge to bring
Elsinore to life. At the close of play, Sylvester Morand's ashen ghost
reappears in a cross-like blaze of blue light and the characters return
to their coffins. Between these two action points, the stage is piled
with trunks and packing-cases, as if this equipment empasised the
impermanence of Elsinore's existence, with all its comings and goings."

Heilpern wrote (and I am going to cut some):

"The set is dominated by suitcases and trunks of various shapes and
sizes that are moved about like building blocks in the Stygian gloom.
...Why a suitcase? That is the question. Why are we looking at a castle
of suitcases all night long? I ask you in all candor: When we think of
Hamlet, when we try to grapple anew with its tragic vastness and
meaning, does the image of a suitcase spring to mind? And if sprung,
does it stay?

"I can only assume the director, Mr. Caird, and his set designer, Tim
Hatley, were agonizing one day over a brave new concept best suited to
the most produced great play in history, and they thought, and they
thought, and they cried out to the heavens: "Got it!  Let's do
suitcases!"  ...Why a suitcase? Rosencrantz and Guildenstern-and Hamlet,
too-wouldn't need 20 of them for their fateful journey to England. They
are not Elizabeth Taylor. Besides, the suitcases are in every scene.
Could they, by any chance, be a symbol?  ....Suitcase = travel; darkness
= tragic foreboding."

Heilpern goes on to express his preference for the Brook *Hamlet.*  This
surprised me.  After reading his comments on the "suitcases" (which
aren't suitcases, but rather coffins, packing crates and trunks,
according to de Jonghe...?), I rather thought his biggest response to
the Brook version would be "Floor cushions!!!  Why on earth did they
choose *floor cushions*?!?!"

I can hardly wait until June 27th.

Cheers,
Karen

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Vick Bennison <
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Date:           Wednesday, 06 Jun 2001 15:03:56 EDT
Subject: 12.1388 Re: Beale's Hamlet
Comment:        Re: SHK 12.1388 Re: Beale's Hamlet

Barrett Fisher writes:

>>I saw the RNT Hamlet at the Guthrie Theater in May.  I did sit fairly
 close, though to the extreme left of a thrust stage, so certain staging
 effects were lost on me (for example, the production seemed to be using
 a rather well-worn conceit of the play as play; several of the actors
 stood in what appeared to be boxes at the rear of the stage, suggesting
 dolls being brought out for play time).

I saw the Boston production.  The boxes were all around the periphery of
the stage.  All (or most) the cast were in those boxes at the beginning
and end of the play, but the effect I saw was not of dolls but of
corpses in coffins, upright internally illuminated coffins.  Very
spooky.  And I felt that fit well with the trunks, which store and carry
our material possessions through space, as compared with coffins which
store and carry our material bodies through time. The effect was that
the spirits of these long dead Danes came forth from their coffins to
tell the story of Hamlet and then returned at the end.  I found that
aspect chilling and effective.

- Vick

[3]-------------------------------------------------------------
From:           Ray Eston Smith <
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Date:           Wednesday, 6 Jun 2001 20:16:44 -0700
Subject:        Re: Beale's Hamlet

Re Beale's girth:

Richard Burbage, the first actor to play Hamlet, was fat.

HAMLET  Tis now the very witching time of night,
                When churchyards yawn and hell itself BREATHES out
                Contagion to this world:

QUEEN GERTRUDE He's FAT, and scant of BREATH

GHOST...And duller shouldst thou be than the FAT weed
             That roots itself in ease on Lethe wharf,
             Wouldst thou not stir in this.

Hamlet is no longer "from himself taken away."  His father's command no
longer lives all alone in the book and volume of his brain.  Therefore,
his father (and mother) now think he's fat.  He's no longer breathing
hot contagion, so he's scant of breath.

HAMLET  ... we fat all
 creatures else to fat us, and we fat ourselves for
 maggots: your fat king and your lean beggar is but
 variable service, two dishes, but to one table:
 that's the end.

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