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Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies

An Expanded Edition

Mary Z. Maher

Publication Year: 2003

In Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies (Iowa, 1992), Mary Maher examined how modern actors have chosen to perform Hamlet’s soliloquies, and why they made the choices they made, within the context of their specific productions of the play.

Adding to original interviews with, among others, Derek Jacobi, David Warner, Kevin Kline, and Ben Kingsley, Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies: An Expanded Edition offers two new and insightful interviews, one with Kenneth Branagh, focusing on his 1997 film production of the play, and one with Simon Russell Beale, discussing his 2000-2001 run as Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre.

Published by: University of Iowa Press

Series: Studies Theatre Hist & Culture


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p. v

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pp. vii-viii

It is an odd quirk of the history of performance that so much of it leaves not a rack behind. We do not know what David Garrick's soliloquies looked and felt like, beyond a couple of scattered reports from witnesses, more precious because these are so rare. What ...

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pp. ix-x

Hamlet is widely considered to be the most demanding of Shakespearean challenges, and the majority of observers would identify it as the most complex and problematic role in the entire dramatic repertory. It should not surprise us, then, that the most enduring measure of a classical actor's stature in the theatrical pantheon tends to be...

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pp. xi-xxix

"Hamlet, in my opinion, is pound for pound the greatest play ever written," declared Laurence Olivier.1 Indeed, the role of Hamlet is the quintessential feat for actors: to have achieved it with distinction is a mark of ...

Hamlet's Soliloquies

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pp. xxxi-xl

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1. JOHN GIELGUD; The Glass of Fashion

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pp. 1-18

Because of his extensive and varied experience with Hamlet, John Gielgud owned the role of the prince in a way that no other twentieth-century actor could. As James Agate wrote of Gielgud's 1944 production, "Mr. Gielgud is now completely and authoritatively master of this tremendous part. He is,...

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pp. 19-40

Each time a newcomer undertook the role of Hamlet, he was shadowed by the force of tradition. Hamlets in the middle decades of the twentieth century were still influenced by what Gielgud had epitomized in the role, especially in the performance of the soliloquies. This chapter...

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3. DAVID WARNER: The Rogue and Peasant Slave

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pp. 41-62

When David Warner was performing Hamlet at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre one evening, a member of the audience actually entered into the play. It was near the end of the second act, just after Hamlet dismisses Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. With a sigh...

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4. BEN KINGSLEY: In My Mind's Eye

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pp. 63-91

Reviews of Ben Kingsley's 1975 Hamlet were shrouded in the news of the death of its director, twenty-eight-year-old Mary Ann ("Buzz") Goodbody. Four days after its opening, she took her life by overdosing on barbiturates. The newspaper headlines...

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5. DEREK JACOBI: The Courtier, Soldier, Scholar

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pp. 92-120

For Derek Jacobi, acting goes beyond an occupation to that rare sphere of vocation or calling: "If you've got a crush on the theatre or a great desire, be wary. You have to need to be an actor. If it's just a desire, a want, a love-that's not enough. You have to...

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6. ANTON LESSER: A Noble Mind

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pp. 121-134

British actor Anton Lesser has performed extensively on the London stage, with approximately half of his stage credits in classical roles from Shakespeare to Chekov. For the Royal Shakespeare Company he has played Richard III, Romeo, and Troilus. He has numerous...

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7. DAVID RINTOUL: Th' Observ'd of All Observers

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pp. 135-152

British actor David Rintoul has numerous stage and television credits in London, including work at the Royal Shakespeare Company, the National Theatre, the Old Vic, and the BBC. He is a mainstay of the Association for Creative Theatre, Education, and Research (ACTER),1 a U.S.-based international organization which tours American and British colleges and...

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8. RANDALL DUK KIM: Sir, a Whole History

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pp. 153-174

Randall Duk Kim is a Hawaiian American who has played Hamlet in the woodlands of Wisconsin. The American Players Theatre in Spring Green, Wisconsin, which Kim helped to establish in I979, is typical of the regional Shakespearean festivals that have sprung up in the United States since the thirties. Cofounders...

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9. KEVIN KLINE: In Action How Like an Angel

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pp. 175-200

"How do I manage it so that he doesn't split a lip, crack a tooth, or gag on a pearl?" said Kevin Kline, as he crouched over Claudius' body and forced the poisoned drink down the king's throat under the watchful eye of fight director B. H. Barry. Kline opened...

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10. KENNETH BRANAGH: Speak, I Am Bound to Hear

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pp. 201-226

Kenneth Branagh's work has epitomized the best of Shakespeare's plays on screen since the I940s. Early on, chunks of film history like Birdman of Alcatraz, Rebecca, and Dial M for Murder became part of his practical vocabulary. He stated...

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11. SIMON RUSSELL BEALE: The Motive and the Cue for Passion

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pp. 227-244

It is one thing to be caviar to the general but it is quite another to engender rave reviews from London critics. Simon Russell Beale's 2000-2001 Hamlet received adulation such as has not been heard since ...


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pp. 247-265

E-ISBN-13: 9781587291364
E-ISBN-10: 1587291363
Print-ISBN-13: 9780877458265
Print-ISBN-10: 087745826X

Page Count: 308
Publication Year: 2003

Edition: paper
Series Title: Studies Theatre Hist & Culture
Series Editor Byline: John Smith, Will Wordsworth See more Books in this Series

OCLC Number: 606931939
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies

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Subject Headings

  • Shakespeare, William, -- 1564-1616 -- Stage history.
  • Shakespeare, William, 1564-1616. Hamlet.
  • Acting.
  • Soliloquy.
  • Hamlet (Legendary character).
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