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Home :: Archive :: 2006 :: July ::
Seattle All-Female Hamlet
The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 17.0703  Monday, 31 July 2006

[1] 	From: 	Larry Weiss <
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	Date: 	Friday, 28 Jul 2006 11:51:01 -0400
	Subj: 	Re: SHK 17.0699 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

[2] 	From: 	Donald Bloom <
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	Date: 	Monday, 31 Jul 2006 09:27:04 -0500
	Subj: 	RE: SHK 17.0699 Seattle All-Female Hamlet


[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Larry Weiss <
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Date: 		Friday, 28 Jul 2006 11:51:01 -0400
Subject: 17.0699 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	Re: SHK 17.0699 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

 >At the risk of trying the patience of all and sundry, and Hardy too,
 >one brief observation on that issue, of what S wrote.  At the Mousetrap
 >play, Ophelia says "the King rises."  Three little words, from the hand
 >of S.  When Ophelia says that, three things are happening.
 >
 >Claudius has risen, just before her line, and flees the room.  This is 
literally what she means.
 >
 >The Ghost rises invisibly from the earth, or floor, as she speaks. 
<snip>
 >
 >Hamlet rises just after Ophelia speaks.  <snip>
 >
 >That's how Shakespeare wrote it, for that small moment at Ophelia's 
little line.

Sure, it is interesting staging.  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.

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------
From: 		Donald Bloom <
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Date: 		Monday, 31 Jul 2006 09:27:04 -0500
Subject: 17.0699 Seattle All-Female Hamlet
Comment: 	RE: SHK 17.0699 Seattle All-Female Hamlet

Lots of people, myself included, have spouted off about what works and 
doesn't work in casting against expectation (male as female, female as 
male, non-white as white, white as non-white, juvenile as adult), and 
probably little more needs to be said.

But if we're actually going to talk about the text, I will add another 
two cents' worth.

Jeffrey Jordan writes: ". . . Ophelia says 'the King rises.'  Three 
little words, from the hand of S.  When Ophelia says that, three things 
are happening. Claudius has risen, just before her line, and flees the 
room.  This is literally what she means."

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). 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!" If I were directing, I would assume that the line 
indicated he was stationary until a torchbearer appeared, a matter of a 
couple of seconds, then would depart.

Quite probably Jordan did not mean that the King is supposed to flee in 
the same comic way that Falstaff does at Gad's Hill, but the scene is 
one of the moments of greatest tension in the play and should be staged 
to make the most of it.

Cheers,
don

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