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FOREWORD Expanded Edition 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 the degree to which he-or she-has prevailed as the Prince of Denmark. This is a consideration that has never been lost on those who have aspired to the highest laurels, and the reputations a noble heritage exalts with greatest reverence are almost inevitably associated with those performers who have left indelible marks upon our perception of this ever-evolving character. One consequence, perforce, is that anyone who attempts to portray Shakespeare's enigmatic protagonist, if only for the briefest of interludes in the span of a lengthy career, is confronted with all the ghosts of Hamlets past. And in no aspect of the part is this more intimidatingly the case than with the soliloquies, which have always been so integral to any depiction of the playwright's most celebrated title figure. How these famous passages are rendered in a particular sequence of defining moments is always the key to everything else in even the most richly nuanced of productions. It is immensely to her credit that Mary Maher has focused upon this all-important topic, and it is even more to her praise that she has managed to persuade so many of the significant Hamlets of our era to revisit and talk about the anxieties, dilemmas, rhetorical strategies, staging techniques, and specific choices that even the most confident of professionals usually prefer to keep to themselves. The result is an engaging volume that has already established itself as a classic in its initial incarnation, the groundbreaking version of this ongoing exploration which was first published in 1992. To have conceived and completed such a study-with its fascinating and frequently remarkable account of the ways in which a brilliant cadre IX of creative minds and sensibilities have confronted some of the most difficult acts of psychological and aesthetic interpretation imaginable-was an extraordinary achievement, and it was instantly recognized as such. Now I'm delighted to report that, in response to innumerable requests, Professor Maher is providing us an even more comprehensive collection, an expansion of the original anthology to incorporate fresh reflections from two of the Danes who have done so much in recent years to keep an august tradition vibrant: Kenneth Branagh and Simon Russell Beale. Two additional Princes now grace the pages of this expanded edition of Modern Hamlets and Their Soliloquies. Kenneth Branagh's star-marked 1997 production of Hamlet has been hailed as one of a kind, merging an international cast with an epic rendering of the complete text directed by Branagh, who also plays the title role. Simon Russell Beale's 2000-2001 Hamlet at the Royal National Theatre, which bridges the cusp of the twenty-first century, brings us through the end of a millennium with a version lauded and applauded by London and New York critics. Our wisest and most compelling course is to relish this feast which has been set out for our enjoyment and edification. With that prospect in view, I hope you'll now join me in savoring the treats that are here displayed in so enticing a fashion. John F. Andrews x : Foreword ...


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