Wednesday, January 9, 2013
I believe that a person's familiarity with a Shakespeare play can completely alter their experience as an audience member. Today I saw a performance of Hamlet with absolutely no preparation or previous encounter with the actual play. I knew the line "to be or not to be" and the fact that Hamlet's father appears as a ghost- and that's about it. During the entire performance, I was struggling to make sense of the relationship between the characters, to remember names, and to decipher the meaning of their words. My experience today was completely different from that of the other Shakespeare plays I've seen (A Midsummer Night's Dream and Macbeth), both of which I had previously read and studied. I truly enjoyed seeing those performances because I understood the significance of the characters actions. I had had time to study the language of the play- to translate his rhymes and riddles. After todays performance I read a plot description of Hamlet and was shocked to see how many important things I didn't quite seem to catch. Having some degree of familiarity with the story makes watching the performance much more relaxed, and for me, much more enjoyable.