"The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene individable, or poem unlimited." How does
“The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy,
history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral,
tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral; scene
individable, or poem unlimited.”
How does one introduce a play that is so deeply imbedded in our cultural history? For this Salon, we come to study Hamlet afresh, not worrying about whether we see it as Shakespeare’s greatest play ever or whether we stand breathless at the language – but finding within the play what has so riveted audiences and readers for centuries. In addition, we have Shakespearean actor Jane Wymark as facilitator: Jane offers deep insights: having played Ophelia to Derek Jacobi’s Hamlet for over 200 performances, she has Hamlet in her bones. We welcome to this Salon those who have never read or seen the play along with those who have memorized entire soliloquies – we will need both perspectives to carefully negotiate our way through the “constantly shifting register not only of action but of language” (Frank Kermode, Shakespeare’s Language, 2000).
What is Hamlet about? Themes include the most precise questions of loyalty, revenge and allegiance, what it means to be human, the role of fate and self-will, the truth of madness- the essences of human experience. The language must stand up to the weight of these themes – we will closely examine the words and structures to decide if it does and if so, how. Hamlet as a character is utterly compelling: the sinuous dance of his mind, his outrage at human frailty, his exquisite language infused by his agony at a world too small and mean for his spirit inspires the reader.
As with any other Salon dealing with a dramatic work, we will read aloud — sections of the text and I will suggest viewing various filmed adaptations. For those who are keen to stretch themselves, there will be opportunities for a prepared reading. We will include in our discussions reflections on various productions and how this play speaks to this strange time we are living; we shall also consider diversity in casting and setting of the play over time.
- Facilitated by Jane Wymark
- Monday early eves 18-20:00 PM BST
- Six meetings over six weeks from February 8th to March 15th
- Meetings conducted virtually via ZOOM
- There are many editions; to simplify for this study please use the Arden Shakespeare– loads of notes and opportunities to read around the text and understand the differences in editions ASIN: B015QL4M8S
- £130 includes background notes and resources
To register, please email Jane who will advise you on how to make the payment email@example.com Upon receipt of payment, I will send you the opening notes, resources and preparation suggestions.
Reflections from our previous study:
“Thank you for such an engrossing salon, and so well-choreographed. Hamlet feels like a play that’s a companion through life, and at this turbulent time it has meant so much to me to share it with you and the group. Thank you. You get it, and that makes such a difference.”
“The word ‘joy’ is not one I’ve ever associated with Hamlet before, but
it perfectly describes my experience studying the play under Jane’s
expert tutelage. Reading scenes aloud between discussions about the
text brought Shakespeare’s words to life in a way I hadn’t experienced
since working in theatre. Jane created a welcoming environment where I
felt comfortable sharing thoughts, ideas, and even questions about
lines I didn’t understand. It was truly a delight.” JM Hamlet Salon 2020
“There is one peculiarity which real works of art possess in common. At each fresh reading one notices some change in them, as if the sap of life ran in their leaves, and with skies and plants they had the power to alter their shape and color from season to season. To write down one’s impressions of Hamlet as one reads it year after year, would be virtually to record one’s own autobiography, for as we know more of life, so Shakespeare comments upon what we know.”