Category: Hamlet

Janet McTeer in a promo for Bernhardt/Hamlet, …

Janet McTeer in a promo for Bernhardt/Hamlet, photo by Jake Chessum.

I can’t wait to see more photos from this!

Hamlet as an action hero.Kill Shakespeare co-creator and…

Hamlet as an action hero.

Kill Shakespeare

co-creator and co-writer

Anthony Del Col writes his case for why Hamlet is the underrated hero we all need in the run up to the dramatic reading of his popular comic book series this weekend.


One of
the first lessons one learns about writing in any storytelling medium (theatre,
film, television, comics, etc.) is that the tale’s protagonist must be
proactive. They must have a clear goal and must actively lead the charge to
accomplish said goals. They are not dragged into stories and do not allow other
characters and plots push them forwards. Otherwise, you are doing it wrong. And
one famous (infamous?) screenwriting book, Blake Snyder’s Save the Cat!, argues that the only case in which this rule doesn’t
apply is with perhaps the most famous character of all-time:

Hamlet.

The
general perception of Hamlet is that he’s an inactive character, someone who
cannot make a decision (encapsulated in perhaps the most famous line in theatre
history: ‘To be or not to be?’). As many high school students have thought over
the last hundred-plus years: make up your mind, already!

So
when my Kill Shakespeare co-creator/co-writer Conor McCreery and I sat down to initially
create our comic series (a mash-up adventure that pits all of Shakespeare’s
greatest characters together in the same world), we had to ask ourselves a
question: can we make Hamlet our main character if he’s an inactive one? To
answer that question, I’ve gone back to the original play (studying
numerous interpretations, as well as performances) to steadfastly come up with
a revelation:

Hamlet
is the most interesting action hero Shakespeare ever created.

From
the very moment that Hamlet appears on stage all eyes are on him. He’s a man in
mourning, but as soon as word (and appearance) of his father’s ghost appears
Hamlet starts off on his journey. The ghost tells him of his murder and points
Hamlet towards the suspect. But Hamlet, ever the investigator, decides to
gather proof and manipulates Ophelia, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and pretty
much everyone else. And then, when Hamlet accidentally kills someone, he takes
a stumble backwards but returns, more determined than ever. All in the name of
revenge.

Yes,
he has moments of reflection and doubt, but what human being doesn’t? These
moments don’t delay his actions significantly and in fact make him more
sympathetic. A character driving single-mindedly towards revenge is a
one-dimensional character. Someone who wonders about the morality or sanity of
it all? That’s a real human being. And a great action hero.

So
when Conor and I regrouped to write the comic book series and then the stage
play (appearing this Friday at Shakespeare’s Globe!) it became natural to make
Hamlet our main character, a man tasked with finding a reclusive wizard named
Shakespeare with the abilities to bring his father back to life. And similar to
the play, Hamlet is a detective, attempting to figure out who this Shakespeare
is and the nature of his powers. One side – led by Richard III – tells Hamlet
that Shakespeare is an evil wizard that has killed many. The other side – led
by Juliet – informs Hamlet that the Bard is actually a God or a Creator. This
all gives Hamlet an incredible excuse to pause. We also decided to lean into
the stereotypical perceptions of the melancholy Dane by giving him the ultimate
choice here: to kill, or not to kill the wizard?

When I
first began work on

Kill ShakespeareHamlet
was not my favourite of Shakespeare’s plays. I was more of an Othello guy, perhaps under the sway
(like many) of the charismatic Iago. But now, having not only watched and read
Hamlet repeatedly, but also written the character, I’m steadfastly a fan of the
play. There’s a reason that it’s the role that all actors aspire to play: he’s
the most fascinating character ever created.

So in
a world where the greatest action heroes fall into the camps of superheroes,
fast and furious drivers, and intergalactic Jedi warriors, I wish to throw one
other option into the mix: a melancholy prince with a sense of humour, a drive
for the truth and some moral reservations about what is what’s right and wrong.

Discover more about the world of Kill Shakespeare at our upcoming dramatic reading.

From Studio to Stage: Creating fights in Hamlet and As You Like…

From Studio to Stage: Creating fights in Hamlet and As You Like It

Yarit Dor is part of the Globe Ensemble, (performing Hamlet and As You Like It) as Fight Director. Here she concludes her blog series to tell you more about how she keeps the actors safe and creates fights that still make you wince to watch.


Once I brainstorm with the actors I then go away and do some work on my own. Like any designer of sorts “fight designing” has an element of solitude to it. 

Hamlet and As You Like It are not set in a specific time or era and this timeless aspect opens up a range of styles, research, and opportunities. I wanted the fights to support that by taking styles from different eras. 

As You Like It
The wrestling match has a mixture of wrestling ‘tastes’ in it. Some moves or concepts such as Medieval wresting are from Talhoffer and Meyer (15th and 16th-century fencing experts); some are Greek/Roman and some are more ‘contemporary show-off’ wrestling moves. We devised all the moves that emphasise the abilities of the actors and their ideas of storytelling earlier on. 

The rope came alive to fit with the overall style of the semi-physical-theatre like elements such as the sheep and the deer which come later on in the play. 

Hamlet
‘To Block or not to block’ – as part of the concept of actors owning and creating their own material, we tried to find a way for the ensemble to ‘improvise’ violent physical interactions that could change from one performance to the other. And so physical moments that you might find between Ophelia and Hamlet or Ophelia and Claudius explored by the actors in that performance might not repeat themselves if you see another show. To facilitate that kind of exploration we did a session looking at stage combat vocabulary, safety concepts and their installment: how to redirect someone’s energy or shift them to a safer space, how to go with verses that look like you resist, styles of contact, body positions, tension levels etc. 

When the general direction was that the last scene would feel like a ‘Tudorish’ sporting event, rapier & dagger were a joy to work with (and a favourite of mine) my research was then based on a time-mix between Vincentio Saviolo, Giacomo di Grassi, Salvator Fabris and Nicoletto Giganti who were all Italian sword-masters in and around the 16th and 17th centuries. There is much more sword-point based work in the two first phrases, rhythm changes and less ‘swashbuckly’ flair moves you may find in some productions or movies. Cuts and slashes were integrated more towards the end when Hamlet and Laertes start losing control and the line between sport and fight gets blurry. We decided not to have curved pathways around the pillars or through the courtiers in order to allow the non-fighting actors free movement around the fight and for Osric to manoeuvre himself. They’ve done brilliantly and it’s always an inspiration to see two actresses fight with blades in such an emotional rollercoaster of a play.

From Studio to Stage: Creating fights in Hamlet and As You Like…

From Studio to Stage: Creating fights in Hamlet and As You Like It

We spoke to the Globe Ensemble Fight Director, Yarit Dor, about what it takes to keep the 

actors safe and create fights that still make you wince to watch. Here she concludes her blog series taking us behind the scenes of Hamlet and As You Like It.


Once I brainstorm with the actors I then go away and do some work on my own. Like any designer of sorts “fight designing” has an element of solitude to it. 

Hamlet and As You Like It

are not set in a specific time or era and this timeless aspect opens up a range of styles, research, and opportunities. I wanted the fights to support that by taking styles from different eras. 

As You Like It

The wrestling match has a mixture of wrestling ‘tastes’ in it. Some moves or concepts such as Medieval wresting are from Talhoffer and Meyer (15th and 16th-century fencing experts); some are Greek/Roman and some are more ‘contemporary show-off’ wrestling moves. We devised all the moves that emphasise the abilities of the actors and their ideas of storytelling earlier on. 

The rope came alive to fit with the overall style of the semi-physical-theatre like elements such as the sheep and the deer which come later on in the play. 

image

Hamlet
‘To Block or not to block’ – as part of the concept of actors owning and creating their own material, we tried to find a way for the ensemble to ‘improvise’ violent physical interactions that could change from one performance to the other. And so physical moments that you might find between Ophelia and Hamlet or Ophelia and Claudius explored by the actors in that performance might not repeat themselves if you see another show. To facilitate that kind of exploration we did a session looking at stage combat vocabulary, safety concepts and their installment: how to redirect someone’s energy or shift them to a safer space, how to go with but still look like you are resisting, styles of contact, body positions, tension levels etc. 

When the general direction was that the last scene would feel like a ‘Tudorish’ sporting event, rapier & dagger were a joy to work with (and a favourite of mine) my research was then based on a time-mix between Vincentio Saviolo, Giacomo di Grassi, Salvator Fabris and Nicoletto Giganti who were all Italian sword-masters in and around the 16th and 17th centuries. There is much more sword-point based work in the two first phrases, rhythm changes and less ‘swashbuckly’ flair moves you may find in some productions or movies. Cuts and slashes were integrated more towards the end when Hamlet and Laertes start losing control and the line between sport and fight gets blurry. We decided not to have curved pathways around the pillars or through the courtiers in order to allow the non-fighting actors free movement around the fight and for Osric to manoeuvre himself. They’ve done brilliantly and it’s always an inspiration to see two actresses fight with blades in such an emotional rollercoaster of a play.

Hamlet: Your views

Hamlet on stage The Globe Ensemble ask ‘who’s…

Hamlet on stage 

The Globe Ensemble ask ‘who’s there?’ in the first production of our summer season. Hamlet runs until 26 August 2018. Find out more about the production.

All images by Tristram Kenton.

unkindness313: Andrew Scott as Hamlet at the …

unkindness313:

Andrew Scott as Hamlet at the Almeida – in pictures

The Guardian gallery

All photographs by Manuel Harlan

Play fighting: On stage fight choreography In this new blog…

Play fighting: On stage fight choreography 

In this new blog series Fight Director Yarit Dor will reveal how she works with actors to make fight scenes look realistic, whilst keeping everyone safe.

Hi, I’m Yarit and I’m part of the Globe Ensemble (performing Hamlet and As You Like It) as Fight Director. I wanted to share some of my process on Hamlet and As You Like It this season.

With the Globe Ensemble our mutual aim was to discover EVERYTHING in the rehearsal room. The actors inspire the work and decisions can be made as a collective therefore I decided to be there everyday rather than only coming in for fight sessions. That allowed me to be present in the full development and to be there when the actors explore scenes that have or might have violent interactions. Similar to Ellan (designer) who sketched in their notebook, I started to write down things that I saw: any physical impulses that they had, spatial pathways they were naturally using, games; props they were taking from the pile etc. That taught me a lot about how they view their character’s journey in that scene and why they need to use violence.

I snuck away at different points during the day and went into an empty room where I started brainstorming ideas on huge Post-It notes.

Hamlet’s fight brainstorming

Michelle, Bettrys, Ellan and I had a session of brainstorming where we chatted about the graveyard scene and the last fencing scene. We all wrote some words on a big Post-It and discussed the storytelling behind the action.  
Since the rehearsals were done in the order of the play, we would get to the fencing scene much later so it was essential for me to start teaching them a choreography that leaves space for the actresses to explore events, emotions and intent. Hearing them speak and analyse their character’s journey gave a direction for the action. Then after the rehearsal day I’d meet my Assistant, share thoughts with him and start to tailor moves.

As You Like It fight brainstorming

Our fight sessions happened much later in the process. Since the two main fights in the play are right in the first Act, I had a chance to see them playing with those scenes a couple of times. Also by the time we had our first fight session we’ve already worked through most of the play so I knew what kind of movement language overall was beginning to form itself – puppetry, animal work etc.  Therefore when Richard, Bettrys and I had our brainstorming session we all knew what style of language is required. In that session Richard came up with the ending and then we constructed it from end to start in theory and agreed on the storytelling of the fight. With Shubham and Bettrys we played some physical games and they shared stories of how they used to fight with their siblings so we used some of those concepts in the Orlando verses Oliver fight.

Words: Yarit Dor 

Hamlet and As You Like It rehearsal sketchesThe 2018…

Hamlet and As You Like It rehearsal sketches

The 2018 #GlobeEnsemble who will perform Hamlet and As You Like It are rehearsing and putting the plays together in a way unlike many of our Globe companies.

Everyone is equally involved in the process including the designer, composer, choreographer, actors, and directors and the rehearsal space is being treated like a ‘test tube’ of experimentation.

All the production choices, and what you will eventually see on stage, will spring from what happens in the rehearsal room. Ideas will be posed and explored, grown and altered. Some may fall by the wayside and some may make their way onto the stage, even if only in essence.

Read our previous blog post about the Hamlet and As You Like It rehearsal process.

Ellan Parry the designer has shared some of the rehearsal sketches.

Starting with a blank page meant that I needed to be in the rehearsal room as much as possible, observing and responding to the work the acting members of the ensemble were doing. Drawing is a useful mechanism for this kind of responding – a more meditative, more instinctive, less analytical way of channelling the imagery, the action, and a kind of distilled essence of what the actors are showing me. Looking back over these drawings from the past months, I’m struck by how much of this imagery, and this essence, in some cases from our very earliest sessions when we were just beginning to scratch below the surface of these plays, has found its way into what we’re about to put on stage.

Casting for Hamlet and As You Like It Announced It’s the…


Catrin Aaron and James Garnon


Colin Hurley and Bettrys Jones


Richard Katz and Jack Laskey


Nadia Nadarajah and Pearce Quigley


Shubham Saraf and Helen Schlesinger


Michelle Terry and Tanika Yearwood

Casting for Hamlet and As You Like It Announced 

It’s the news you’ve long been waiting for. We are thrilled to announce who is playing who in Hamlet and As You Like It, the opening shows of Michelle Terry’s first season as Artistic Director.  

Find out more about Hamlet and As You Like It. 

Catrin Aaron plays Horatio in Hamlet and Phoebe in As You Like It.

James Garnon plays Claudius in Hamlet and Audrey in As You Like It.

Colin Hurley plays the Ghost in Hamlet and Touchstone in As You Like It.

Bettrys Jones plays Laertes in Hamlet and Orlando in As You Like It.

Richard Katz plays Polonius in Hamlet and Silvius in As You Like It.

Jack Laskey plays Fortinbras and others in Hamlet and Rosalind in As You Like It.

Nadia Nadarajah plays Guildenstern in Hamlet and Celia in As You Like It.

Pearce Quigley plays Rosencrantz in Hamlet and Jaques in As You Like It.

Shubham Saraf plays Ophelia in Hamlet and Oliver in As You Like It.

Helen Schlesinger plays Gertrude in Hamlet and Duke Frederick in As You Like It.

Michelle Terry plays the title role in Hamlet and Adam in As You Like It.

Tanika Yearwood plays Marcellus in Hamlet and Amiens in As You Like It.