-The commas never, end. They, are everywhere. Does anything, make, sense anymore
-You read Macbeth. Your teacher gives you a test. It is supposed to be on Romeo and Juliet. All of the questions are on Hamlet. You have never read Hamlet.
-Your english teacher does not speak. Everything that he writes on the board is broken up into syllables. There is no punctuation.
-Your textbook contains nothing but The Raven. It is printed over fifty times. The person sitting next to you claims that their textbook only has
The Yellow Wallpaper. The teacher only talks about Shakespeare.
-The board is covered with words you don’t know. The teacher sits at his desk and gestures to the board. He tells you to get to get to work, but you don’t understand what he is saying because he is speaking too loudly.
-You grade a freshman’s timed essay. There are only two paragraphs. They are both on a book that doesn’t exist.
-You come across a sentence. It never ends. You die of old age before you finish reading the sentence.
-The bell rings. Your class stands up. The bell rings. Your class sits down. The bell rings. Your class stands up. The bell rings. Your class sits down. The bell ri
-No one knows what “quotation marks” are. “No one” knows how to use them.
-You want to improve your poetry. Your teacher tells you that the only way to do so is to stand on your head.
-In your room sits every book that was ever assigned to you in school. They cover everything. There is no room in your bed for you to sleep, so you stay at school and sleep at your desk in the english classroom. The lights never turn off.
It is being described by the very few who have seen dress rehearsals
as a “thriller”, “the grief Hamlet”, and “vibrant” with an
“extraordinary” central performance by its superstar lead.
Sounds good? To see or not to see? Looking for a debit card? Well
unless you were randomly selected for a ticket then forget about it. You
will never see one of the most anticipated theatrical events of the
Tom Hiddleston on Friday night takes to the stage in London for his first public performance of Hamlet, as directed by Sir Kenneth Branagh.
The production is raising funds for the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art
(Rada), and is staged in Rada’s 160-seat Jerwood Vanbrugh theatre. It
is running for only three weeks with tickets offered via a now closed
lottery. Instead of the estimated 250,000 people who watched Benedict Cumberbatch’s Hamlet in 2015, on stage and at the cinema, it will be seen by just short of 4,000.
“What is exciting is to have a fundraiser which is also about the
art,” said the director of Rada, Edward Kemp. “Sometimes it is about how
can we extract as much cash from people as possible … what has been
thrilling about this is how do we do something which raises money for
Rada and serves the values that we and the Kenneth Branagh theatre
company stand for? It is piece of art, not just a big old gala.”
Branagh became president of Rada about 18 months ago and Kemp
recalled talking with him about directing a show, “thinking it would be a
third-year student production. He rang back a week later to say that he
and Tom had been talking.”
Branagh had, in fact, been talking to Hiddleston for 10 years about
directing him in Hamlet but clashing schedules meant it never happened.
“They suddenly thought, actually, this is a way we could make this
work,” said Kemp.
It felt important to stage the play at Rada and that would bring its
own rewards, he said. “There is something about the intimacy of the
experience that has made the production very special. It is really
extraordinary seeing this play that close. Nobody in the theatre is more
than about 12ft away from the stage. In the fight at the end you are
pretty much in the fight if you are in the front row.”
Critics have not been invited – though some may have managed to get a
ticket through the ballot – purely because Rada wants to maximise the
money raised, and that has ruffled some feathers.
Mark Shenton, an associate editor of the Stage and chair of the
theatre critics’ circle, said he understood the reasons for not inviting
critics, but it was “difficult to shift a sense of exclusivity around
However, he added: “Reviewing it would only amplify the disappointment
of those who can’t see it and put critics in an impossible position of
extreme privilege. So it’s right that we were excluded.”
Shenton said a possible lack of critics raised interesting questions.
“It makes one wonder: if this tree falls, or rises majestically, in the
forest of Hamlets around at the moment, will it have actually happened
if critics weren’t there to record it?”
All funds raised will support the Rada Attenborough Campaign
which aims to bring in £20m for the regeneration of the school’s
Chenies Street premises, providing a library and, for the first time,
on-site accommodation for students.
There are no plans to film the production, no returns and measures in
place to prevent secondary ticketing. Put simply, if people do not have
a golden ticket, they will not see it.
Of course that does not mean Hiddleston may never do Hamlet again.
John Gielgud played the role more than 500 times in six productions;
Mark Rylance was in three.
Because there is no chance of seeing it, there will be many theatre
lovers who do not want to know if Hiddleston’s Hamlet is as good as the
numerous recent popular Hamlets – from David Tennant to Cumberbatch to Andrew Scott, currently in the West End.
For those who do want to know, expect social media to be a blur of reaction over the next few weeks.
Kemp is one of the few who has seen it and reports that it is modern
dress, and set in a modern kingdom that is recognisably Denmark.
“More than other Hamlets I’ve seen recently I would say it is a play
about grief,” he said. “Someone said to me last night this is the ‘grief
It has a cast of 10, and “felt like a genuine ensemble, not just a
star and some other people. It feels very present, alive and of now.
There are also nudges to other kinds of leaders. I’ll say no more than
• Hamlet is at the Rada Jerwood Vanbrugh theatre 1-23 September. Tickets are not available.
so because I’m a giant nerd I was just reading one of the appendixes in the arden edition of hamlet and its talking about doubling in the casting and it’s saying that other than hamlet (obv) horatio is the one character that really can’t be doubled (the only options are reynaldo and fortinbras’s captain - even the actor playing hamlet could concievably double four other characters) and although I already knew that what stuck me was the little discussion about that fact
because the other character not easily doubled is gertrude, and it was being suggested that this highlights her special relationship to hamlet within the play (because hamlet obv isn’t going to be doubled, and the queen is also unlikely to double), reinforcing the centrality of their relationship to the play. and then it says that the fact that horatio is the one role, aside from hamlet, that is almost certainly never going to be doubled really reinforces the importance of their relationship:
‘the fact that the actor who plays horatio should be someone who can never be anyone else is striking…does it reinforce hamlet’s own view of horatio as an ever-fixed mark, who must be encouraged to go on being himself to the end of the play?’
like horatio isn’t just constant and unchangeable and straightforward in personality. he literally cannot be anything else within the play. he can only ever be himself