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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: August ::
Seattle All-Female Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0706  Tuesday, 1 August 2006

[1] 	From: 	Aaron Azlant <
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	Date: 	Monday, 31 Jul 2006 14:55:51 -0700
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0703 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[2] 	From: 	Jeffrey Jordan <
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	Date: 	Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 01:01:37 -0500
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0703 Seattle All-Female Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Aaron Azlant <
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Date: 		Monday, 31 Jul 2006 14:55:51 -0700
Subject: 17.0703 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0703 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Just a quick and slightly tangential remark on the remarkably complex 
reasons for the dramatic tension at "Give me some light, away":

In The Mousetrap, Lucianus is not just a character that, like Claudius, 
murders a king in a garden by pouring poison in his ear-he is also the 
nephew of his victim, like Hamlet*. The same thing is not necessarily 
true of his analogue in the dumb show, which Claudius sits through 
unperturbed. Claudius, then, could potentially be responding to what he 
perceives as a veiled threat from Hamlet; if this were an active 
possibility, it would also weaken the idea, immediately taken for 
granted by Hamlet, that Claudius decisively confirms his own guilt by 
abandoning the play.
Now, I don't think that an audience is ever in a position to dismiss 
Hamlet's insistence that Claudius has confirmed the Ghost's word, but I 
do think that it is at least slightly uneasy at Hamlet's reduction and 
that its feelings at Claudius' last line in the scene are subtly multiple.

For whatever it's worth, all three of the characters in the Mousetrap 
map to two different characters in Hamlet. Lucianus, like Hamlet, is 
both a regicide and a nephew to the king; like Claudius, he is a 
regicide that operates by pouring poison into ears. The Player King, 
like Hamlet, is an erratic melancholic; like King Hamlet, he is poisoned 
via his ear while reclining in his orchard. The Player Queen, like 
Ophelia, attends to a character that is "so far from cheer and from [a] 
former state"; like Gertrude, she remarries a regicide.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Jeffrey Jordan <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 1 Aug 2006 01:01:37 -0500
Subject: 17.0703 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0703 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Replying to Larry Weiss.

 >...  But to say -- not once, but twice -- that this and nothing else
 >was what WS wrote confuses Jeff's directorial choice with the
 >Bard's authorship.  Before I can consider this as the one and
 >only original intent I would have to see a stage direction
 >placing the ghost in this scene, two scenes and about 250 lines
 >before his entrance at III.iv.102.

There are two questions to be answered.  One is, did Shakespeare intend 
that, to have the Ghost rise at Ophelia's line?  Of course  it's a 
personal judgment call, since the dialogue, and a few  scattered stage 
directions, are all we have of ~Hamlet~.  There's no proof.

But then there's another question: could S have missed it?  I don't 
think he could have.  S was marvelously sharp, and I don't think there's 
any chance he could have missed having the Ghost rise at Ophelia's line. 
  "The King rises."  It's right there.  Others may think S missed such a 
fine opportunity, but I refuse to believe he did.  He was too sharp, and 
it's good theater.  And they had the trap door.

Replying to Donald Bloom.

 >Jeffrey Jordan writes: ". . . Ophelia says 'the King rises.'
 >Three little words, from the hand of S.  When Ophelia
 >says that, three things are happening. ...
 >
 >His point, I know, is otherwise, but as a matter of strict
 >accuracy, there is more to it than that. Ophelia's line
 >makes superfluous a stage direction to that effect, but
 >the next line, Hamlet's "What, frighted with false fire?,"
 >would seem to suggest the two of them glaring at each
 >other (as in the old BBC version, and very effective it is).

Hamlet's "false fire" line is not in Q2.  It appears first in Q1, then 
the Folio.  So, it's questionable on that basis, since Q1 is so iffy, 
and is the ultimate source.  The line may be authorial, or it may be 
actorial.  I'm not sure it's "Shakespeare."

The effect is better - in my opinion - if Gertrude's line, that you 
mention below, immediately follows Ophelia's.  King Hamlet is Gertrude's 
precedent Lord.  Gertrude's line acquires a dual meaning:  first, of her 
asking Claudius how he is, and second, as though she can see the Ghost 
and is talking to him, asking how he's doing.  S scattered such 
ambiguity all through ~Hamlet~.  How the image of King  Hamlet would be 
doing, is that he'd be grinning as his brother rushes  out.

I didn't find the BBC version good at all, either in that passage, or 
much of anyplace else.  They ruined the effect of Claudius's exit, by 
depriving it of all urgency.  The way the BBC did it, Claudius might as 
well have stayed, and ordered the show to continue, after inhibiting 
Hamlet.  In the BBC version, why did Claudius even leave?   I know "art" 
is whatever people like.  But the BBC production, overall, is one of the 
most horridly misinterpreted things I've seen.  Golly.  Derek Jacobi 
wallowed around on the floor, not like a "mad" Hamlet, but like a Hamlet 
who had a combination of a serious neuromuscular disorder, and an 
alcohol problem.  When he did stand, it was at the wrong time. 
Dreadful.  But sure, "art" is what somebody likes, and I know, some 
people like that awful thing.  I saw it as a waste of talent, and not 
only Jacobi's.

Both Hamlet's "false fire" line, and a later "fire" line by Claudius are 
not in Q2.  Two "fire" lines, neither in Q2.  It's interesting.   A 
person who engaged in wild surmise might wonder if actors were inclined 
to add "fire" lines, so that they could yell "fire" occasionally to perk 
up an inattentive audience, and have an excuse for it.  If so, it would 
be a wicked irony, since the Globe did burn in later years.  Never mind, 
just one of those thoughts.  I wouldn't put it past the actors to do 
that, tho.

And sure, the "fire" lines might be Shakespeare, although not in Q2. 
Maybe.  But Claudius's exit does need urgency, else there's no "stricken 
deer."  Stricken deer flee.

 >Claudius could, of course, be rushing off, and the queen
 >likewise speaking to his back ("How fares my lord?"), but
 >Claudius himself says, "Give me some light. Away!" ...

He's calling for torch bearers to light his way through the dark 
hallways as he heads for the door.  "Away" means "let's go."

However, Claudius's "Away!" also works for the Ghost being there. 
That's three almost-consecutive lines that work for the Ghost.

Ophelia says "The King rises," and the Ghost rises.
Gertrude asks, "How fares my Lord?" as if she's greeting the Ghost.
Claudius exclaims "Away!" as if he's telling his brother to get away.

None of them would see the Ghost, but it flows in undertone as if 
they're all talking to him.  Maybe it's coincidence, just one of those 
things, that the dialogue works for the concept of the Ghost rising and 
being there.  I don't think it's only coincidence.  S wrote it that way 
intentionally.  He was too good with words for the effect to be accidental.

It might be that the Ghost's rising is figurative.  But they had that 
trapdoor.

And anyway, that's nothing compared to how Polonius accidentally 
summoned the Ghost in the Closet Scene by blurting out the secret 
formula from the occult magic book, Ralph Roister Doister.  S did a 
tribute to RRD, the first comedy play printed in English.

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