At the end of October, Michael Sheen and Ian Rickson offer their vision of this poem unlimited at the Young Vic. The upcoming Salon study of Hamlet will be an ideal launching pad to this performance…in the past, we have organized salon nights out to a production of the work we have studied–incredibly gratifying for all.
Hamlet contains some of Shakespeare’s most transcendent language–but the complexity and the layered nature of the thoughts and themes require some time. As a Salon member said recently “What I love about the Salons is that I am forced to slow down and reflect; to just think instead of rushing to do…and I understand so much more because of that.”
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. As I seek to describe the text, I am aware that the terms approximate that of a wisdom tradition. Harold Bloom, one of the twentieth centuries’ most highly regarded and prolific literary critics, puts Shakespeare even more emphatically in the role of deity:
“Shakespeare is my model and my mortal god…Hamlet is part of Shakespeare’s revenge upon revenge tragedy, and is of no genre. Of all poems, it is the most unlimited. As a meditation upon human fragility in confrontation with death, it competes only with the world’s scriptures.” (Harold Bloom, Hamlet, Poem Unlimited, 2003)