Informing Bethany Lutheran College's Spring 2013 Production. Shows at: April 19, 20, 26, 27 at 7:30pm and April 21 at 2pm
PBS made a fantastic documentary all about Hamlet narrated by David Tennant. The video addresses a broad spectrum of ideas and questions pertaining to “Hamlet” from the way the story has permeated popular culture, to the purpose of the production, right down to the character Hamlet and the struggles he is enduring.
If you have an hour or so, this is well worth your time. Also, I mean, you get to stare at David Tennant’s face. I would watch it even if it wasn’t chock full of information and ideas!
One of the quotations from the video really struck me. Professor Marjorie Garber of Harvard University says:
“Something is happening on the stage for us, so that it might not have to happen to us.”
I think that’s a concept you should just let roll around your head a little as you work on this show. Hamlet is a difficult play, it is emotionally draining and even physically exhausting to perform… but this is part of the reason we do theatre, it is part of the reason we tell stories. When we perform Hamlet it is not about the actor showing off their talents or the director revealing their genius or even necessarily about the cathartic process of making art.
We do theatre for empathy and for human connection.
Hamlet is a difficult play to do because it almost hurts to empathize with that character, but when we are done there is a kind of release. I probably won’t ever have to avenge my father’s dead and feign madness and kill my uncle. That understanding of the emotional weight of those deeds and then the relief that because I have watched that happen, I don’t have to live through it myself… that relief is the purpose.
Those are my thoughts anyways; I’d love to hear more about why you do theatre and what you think the purpose of theatre is. Comment and let me know!
Also, I thought this was funny.
Lydia Grabau, Dramaturg