April 8, 2009

Be to not, or be to


Gertrude looming large over the wedding feast.

Gertrude looming large over the wedding feast.

Award-winning German translator and writer Susan Bernofsky reviews a German production of Shakespeare‘s Hamlet and considers how it deals with “classics angst,” on her Berlin Blog. Classics angst, as Bernofsky sees it, is the “problem of how to stage lines so famous every schoolchild knows them by heart.” . Apparently, the production’s solution is to just cut to the chase. It gets the “To be or not to be” speech over with first thing. Bernofsky also considers other techniques and various hi-jinx used by director Thomas Ostermeier in bringing Hamlet into the 21st Century.

Come to think of it…. I think Mel Gibson in his movie version of Hamlet put the great soliloquy up front. Scramlet, I called it. But that’s for a different blog post.

Valerie Merians is the co-founder and co-publisher of Melville House.