Friday, May 2, 2008

Play of the Week: Hamletmachine

Coming off the heals of Shakespeare Week, I thought we might consider something that is vaguely Shakespeare. Although Heiner Mueller almost immediately departs from the original story and characters, I think Hamletmachine is still important.

I will leave Wikipedia to dissect how the play is different and what idealism Mueller adds to the new telling. The importance of this play, I believe, is how it is able to take a story we already know and improvise over-top of it to create something new. And because we already know the story and the characters, Mueller does not have to work so hard at creating his world. We are already thrown into it when we are introduced to Hamlet.

Then as he continues to build his pastiche, everything he is including is already placed in context. For example, Ophelia's lack of agency is highlighted by the commentary on feminism. It becomes a way of discussing something perhaps more in depth without having to argue and debate about it for hours. It is a very effective and efficient way of being able to accomplish something very specific in a short amount of time. Whether or not you like the play itself, I think you have to agree that the technique is fascinating.

Happy Birthday: William Hutt (1920-2007) & Lorenz Hart (1895-1943)

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