• Anthony B. Dawson


A German version of Hamlet in 1979 treated its audience to electronic multiplication of everything that happened on-stage, by attaching a row of TV monitors to a safety curtain and providing the actors with a video camera which they trained on themselves and others. The resulting fragmentation underscored the point of the production, and was enhanced by the splitting of the main part, which was played by two separate actors. One of these, a physical and mental wreck lost in crude sexual fantasies, remained on-stage, more or less speechless; the other spoke the classic lines of Schlegel’s translation as richly and sonorously as possible, but never left the auditorium. At the end, with corpses laid out like stiffs in a morgue, the stage was covered by a hundred tables with as many TV sets on them, all displaying the current news, while the beautiful Ophelia, dressed like a racing-driver, emerged from a blazing sun to take over Denmark.1 Such extravagance can be taken as an emblem of how far directors may be willing to go in search of an original slant on this most famous and familiar of plays. But despite its radical commentary on the alienating effect of contemporary media and the corruption of politics both ancient and modern, this production seems not to have got any closer to the fascinating and enigmatic centre of Hamlet than many more conventional attempts.


German Production Young Audience Current News Religious Atmosphere Play Scene 
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    G. L. Evans, Stratford Herald, 1 July 1980.Google Scholar
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    John Fenton, Sunday Times 6 July 1980.Google Scholar
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    R. L. Sterne, John Gielgud Directs Richard Burton in Hamlet ( New York: Random House, 1967 ) 13–14.Google Scholar
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    Kenneth Tynan, He that Plays the King ( London: Longman, 1950 ) 133.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Anthony B. Dawson 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Anthony B. Dawson
    • 1
  1. 1.University of British ColumbiaUK

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