Directing Hamlet – No Small Task
A famous Hamlet director, Kurt Spenrath, once stated, “The only thing scarier than playing Hamlet is directing it” (Spenrath). Agreeing with him is Greg Doran, the director of the 2008 remake, starring David Tennant. He coincides by inputting, “I've always been rather terrified of Hamlet” (Allen 1). Hamlet is one of Shakespeare’s most well-known dramatics, and people love to put on productions of the work. Many people recognize the play because it is shown around the world, and is a piece of literature that speaks to everyone, no matter the language or culture. The most well-known scene is Hamlet’s soliloquy, which evidently takes the focus of many directors. The soliloquy is very overwhelming, for the director would want the general meaning to be portrayed, as well make the play able to be comprehended on a secondary level. That is why directors have to give their leads a lot of advice, especially Hamlet in this case. The task is daunting for directors and actors overall, and for many is either going to propel their career into a spiraling nadir, or bring them to the apex. A director is not going to turn down the challenge of putting on this play, even if it means extra work with the actors. And although Hamlet may be intimidating, many are able to overcome it and go on to perform Shakespeare’s work elegantly and uniquely. Concerning theatrical works and productions, characterization is one of the most important parts of acting. This fact is especially true when someone is putting on a performance of a Shakespeare show. Directors have to do a variety of research before putting on any show, but the work triples when putting on a production of Hamlet. Spenrath continues, “Hamlet is violent. Hamlet is a poet. Hamlet is sexy. Hamlet is a philosopher" (Spenrath 1). You have to make sure the audience can see all these different sides of Hamlet, not just one of them, which is what normally happens when you watch a show. Directors have to take the initiative and teach the actors playing the important and highly complicated lead roles how they want it to be done, and expect them to follow through and work as hard as they are. I know from personal experience that teaching actors how you want their character portrayed is actually very difficult. Kenneth Branaugh feels the same way. Branaugh is a well-known actor and director. He did not just play the lead character in the 1996 remake of Hamlet, but he also directed the movie at the same time. When asked about how he is able to get pull through directing and acting in the same show, Branaugh said that the experience caused an honest lack of slumber. He also went on to say “...you don't get sleep because you are anxious....in both cases...as an actor because you are aware of a greater amount of expectation, particularly from yourself, in playing a role that is so open to interpretation, which relies so heavily on the personality of the actor...you get anxious as an actor; and as a director, you're anxious for other people” (Mazer 1). I relate in a way to Kenneth Branaugh, for I am acting in Charlotte’s Web as well as assistant directing it. The experience is profound, the workload heavy, but overall fulfilling in every aspect. Branaugh, along with other directors, agrees that the characterization of the actor playing Hamlet depends on how much the actor prepares, as well as the personality of the actor. But that also means that as an actor, Hamlet is different every single time. The one portion of Hamlet that always draws director’s attention is Hamlet’s ‘To be or Not to be’ soliloquy in Act Three, Scene One of the play. In this scene, the character portrayal of Hamlet is extremely important, because the part is two-dimensional. The actor is depicting a grieving early adult, contemplating suicide and ending his life. On top of that though, the actor needs to expose that Hamlet is feigning madness. This complicated process is called character layers....
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