Hamlet is one of the great plays of all times. It is widely considered William Shakespeare’s finest work, and it is the goal of any young actor to play the eponymous lead role. The play, remade and remodelled with every generation, and with over 160 film adaptations to boast, is a tragedy of epic proportions. Unedited the play runs for nearly five hours and this dense and insightful play is a must read for an actor. Here is some useful Hamlet information, enjoy…
Where are we? Denmark
Some useful points
1. Hamlet’s Father has recently died.
2. Claidius, Hamlet’s uncle, without delay marries Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother.
3. Side Note: Fortinbras, the Norwegian prince, is expected to invade soon.
This video below explains the play far clearer and simpler than I could possibly so please watch it.
Claudius – Hamlet’s uncle and now King of Denmark
Gertrude – Hamlet’s mother and Queen of Denmark
Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
Polonius – Lord Chamberlain, Ophelia’s Father
Ophelia – Daughter to Polonius
Laertes – Son of Polonius
Horatio – Hamlet’s Friend
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern – Friends to Hamlet
Osric – a foppish Courtier
Marcellus – King’s Guard
Francisco – King’s Guard
Bernardo – King’s Guard
Reynaldo – Servant to Polonius
Fortinbras – Prince of Norway
Voltemand and Cornelius – Danish Courtiers
Hamlet is a detailed and complex play. The first task of any actor working on this play is understanding it. This takes a lot of research and reading. The great thing about Shakespeare is that everyone has their own opinion on his work. Was Hamlet really mad or just acting? Does Hamlet love Ophelia? And on and on.
Academics, directors, actors have been arguing over these questions for centuries. The important thing as an actor is to be aware of the arguments and to have an opinion. This especially important if you are playing Hamlet or Ophelia.
Once you’ve got your head around the story it’s time to look at how your role serves the story. For a production of Hamlet to work, it requires a great ensemble. Think about how your character adds to the story.