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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Hamlet Q1 in Performance
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0648  Wednesday, 12 July 2006

From: 		John W. Kennedy <
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Date: 		Tuesday, 11 Jul 2006 12:42:56 -0400
Subject: 17.0619 Hamlet Q1 in Performance
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0619 Hamlet Q1 in Performance

Here follow a couple of passages from e-mails from Paul Barry, which he 
has kindly permitted me to post:

In his splendid book on playwriting, /Shakespeare's/ /Game/, William 
Gibson postulates that the structure of the First Quarto is probably how 
Master Will first wrote the play. The major structural difference 
between this script and those that followed is the placement of the "To 
be or not to be. . . . ." soliloquy and the "nunnery scene" that 
follows. I agree with Gibson. The last two scripts I directed used the 
_structure_ of the First Quarto, the text of the First Folio, and added 
the "How all occasions do inform against me. . . . ." soliloquy. So much 
for purity.

If the above isn't clear, follow these beats, starting with the Arden 
II.2. Note that Ophelia accompanies Polonius when he enters with 
Voltemand and Cornelius at II.2.58.

1. Polonius proposes that he and Claudius eavesdrop on Hamlet's 
encounter with Ophelia. They hide behind the arras, leaving Ophelia on 
stage. Gertrude exits.
2. Hamlet enters and does the "To be or not to be. . . . ." soliloquy, 
then the nunnery scene with Ophelia; Hamlet exits.
3. Ophelia does her "Oh what a noble mind. . . . ." soliloquy.
4. Polonius and Claudius re-enter and play the brief 3-scene that the 
Arden designates as III.1.164-190.
5. Claudius and Ophelia exit. Hamlet re-enters.
6. Return to II.2.171 and the Hamlet/Polonius "fishmonger scene" through 
the end of II.2 and the "Oh, what a rogue. . . . . " soliloquy.
7. Play III.1.1-28 as written, then CUT the rest of the scene and go 
directly to III.2, the rehearsal. No changes in the rest of the play.

These juxtapositions maintain the flow and drive of the play and solve 
the "To be or not to be. . . . ." dilemma. Hamlet doesn't backtrack 
after he makes up his mind with "The play's the thing / Wherein I'll 
catch the conscience of the King."

Sure, but what's the question?  Q-1 is there, on the page.  So is Q-2 
and all the Folios.  All I did was what every, almost every, director 
does: I came up with a script that was a combination and editing of the 
available texts, and I produced my composite script twice, first in New 
Jersey in 1988, then in Des Moines, Iowa in 1994, though with completely 
different casts, except for Geddeth Smith, who played Polonius in both.

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