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Home :: Archive :: 2004 :: August ::
Hamlet Who Cuts it Best?
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 15.1615  Tuesday, 31 August 2004

From:           John Reed <
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Date:           Monday, 30 Aug 2004 21:25:53 -0700
Subject:        Re: Hamlet Who Cuts it Best

John wrote:

 >When you are a director and have to cut the play to two hours or a
 >little more, where is your best guide to making the cuts?  This is a
 >big problem, especially if you want to make a play out of it.  If you want
 >to make a ballet, you just cut out all the lines
 >right off the bat, and
 >then build it up again using action.

I probably haven't seen too many different versions myself (from the
point of view of a real aficionado), and all of them have been twentieth
century versions - I never saw anything from earlier centuries - but in
my view too much credit is given to the conscious mind in devising
adaptations.  What I mean is that if versions could be compared,
carefully, across centuries, for instance, or across genre (play vs.
ballet), or across cultural milieu, most of the observed differences
would have to do with tacit assumptions about what is proper, and very
little would be do conscious thought.  Oh, I know, I'm being unfair.

These plays are hard to cut, everyone knows that.  Suppose you had to
cut Beethoven's Fifth Symphony down to two thirds of its normal length.
  How would you do it?  That's just music.  With a play, especially this
play, you have a whole slew of moral, psychological, and yes, religious
issues to deal with.

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