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Home :: Archive :: 2012 :: June ::
Yale Repertory Theatre to Mount Hamlet in 2013

 

The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 23.0237  Tuesday, 12 June 2012

 

[1] From:        Conrad Bishop < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         June 11, 2012 3:40:44 PM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Yale Ham 

 

[2] From:        Robert Projansky < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

     Date:         June 12, 2012 5:51:05 AM EDT

     Subject:     Re: Yale Ham 

 

 

[1]-----------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Conrad Bishop < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         June 11, 2012 3:40:44 PM EDT

Subject:     Re: Yale Ham

 

>But somehow I cannot picture him as Hamlet.  John Adams, sure. 

>Hamlet? Not so much. I wondered how others viewed this particular 

>casting.

 

It’s the production that will make that determination.  And I think casting is a much more powerful illuminator of the potentials of a text than any sort of period costuming, etc.

 

Only thing I could say is to suggest a productive way to look at casting in general. Perhaps for most directors, there exists an image of the character in mind, and the call goes out to whomever seems best to fit that image.

 

If I’m casting a role, I take a different approach.  Assuming the actor has the basic technique and seems like a good collaborator, I try to see what the role would be with him in it, what questions it would bring up - e.g. what illuminations or strains would it put on the whole play to have a Willy Loman with the characteristics of Lee J. Cobb, Dustin Hoffman, Brian Dennehy, or Philip S. Hoffman (all successful, all radically different)?

 

From what little I know of Giamatti’s work (2 films), he might bring an “ordinariness” to the Prince that would bring the political struggle of the play into a stronger balance than the star-vehicle aura usually projected.  Not hard to imagine Olivier’s Hamlet assassinating a king, much more interesting to imagine the throes of confusion, cowardice, spurts of rage and madness that would beset a less “princely” guy.  We tend to take our image of Hamlet from Ophelia’s “O what a noble mind . . . ” speech, but she may not be the most objective judge of that.  Hamlet certainly has great monologs, but for all his hair-splitting logic he’s a pretty conventional thinker.  In any case, Hamlet is a man who clearly feels he’s radically unsuited for his role, and I could see that powerfully in play with this casting.

 

That said, we’ll see.

 

Cheers-

Conrad

 

[2]-------------------------------------------------------------

From:        Robert Projansky < This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it >

Date:         June 12, 2012 5:51:05 AM EDT

Subject:     Re: Yale Ham

 

Marilyn A. Bonomi reports that Paul Giamatti is to play Hamlet in the spring at the Yale Repertory Theater and wonders how others view this casting. 

 

Call me old-fashioned, but if I were casting Hamlet I would try to find a skillful young fellow with leading-man looks and some star quality to do that heavy lifting. Paul Giamatti has neither and he’s forty-five. Indeed, his balding lumpy-dumpy look is plainly part of why he’s cast in the movie roles he gets. He has trunks full of awards, so it doesn’t matter that I usually don’t much care to watch him, but unless you can tell me he has a way with Shakespeare’s verse unmatched in the English-speaking world, I’m not really interested in seeing him play Hamlet anywhere. 

 

Of course, taste in actors is much like taste in other things (that’s why they have chocolate and vanilla), and obviously the artistic director of the Yale Rep (who is also dean of the Yale School of Drama) sees other merits in him. In addition to his appeal as a local boy, Paul Giamatti has a Yale College BA, a Yale School of Drama MFA, is a member of masters-of-all-creation secret society Skull and Bones, and is a son of the late baseball commissioner Bart Giamatti, former president of Yale University. Go figure. 

 

Best to all

Bob Projansky

 
 

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