Richard Burton stars and Sir John Gielgud directs William Shakespeare’s play of the Danish Prince. This is a “Hamlet” acted in rehearsal clothes, stripped of all extraneous trappings, so the beauty of the language and imagery could shine through. Filmed during an actual Broadway performance, to be shown in movie theaters for two days only, the prints were contractually ordered destroyed, but Burton sent one to the British Film Institute, and kept one print at home, located by his widow Sally in 1988; here then is the complete Burton “Hamlet” in all its vocal power and glory.
So I recently did a placement at The Royal Shakespeare Company, in Stratford.
The time I spent there I got to be behind the scenes of Twelfth Night. Beginning with ‘Tech Week.’ Tech week is when the play is performed through with all the technical elements for the first time, and you trial things like quick changes, lighting, sound and possibly altering some of the direction, until all are happy with the final outcome. There is then a Dress, which is a timed performance with all the technical elements running as they would in the performance.
Above is one of the Production Photos. What you are looking at is basically a pool in the bottom left of the stage, in which Viola emerges from in the opening scene, having been shipwrecked in an unknown land. To see Viola and Sebastian swim underneath the stage to emerge here was amazing!
One of the reasons that the Theatre fascinates me, is that they can make anything happen. When I was 15 I saw a production of The Seagull - incidentally at the RSC - and they made it rain. Inside. In a theatre. The entire stage was flooded. And to me, that is pure magic. So to see something like this simply reminds me of the magic which the theatre can create.
“It is the single most embarrassing thing about being in the theatre, that it has become an exclusive club. I am embarrassed by the fact that there is such short-sightedness on the heads of producers and theatre directors. What happens when this generation that is currently going to the theatre passes on to the great theatre in the sky? Who is going to replace them? If we don’t make theatre accessible then you force producers to always have to have big names in plays and you don’t give young people an opportunity to experience something that, if they get it and if they love it, they will come again.”
The glory years of London behind him, William Shakespeare (portrayed by Sir Patrick Stewart) finds himself in an overwhelming moral dilemma. Like his greatest creation King Lear, he has to decide: what shall he do with his money and his power?
She loses her hair, her autonomy, her intellectual armaments — everything that she is, that defines her world — and becomes a warmer, more sympathetic human being? And, at the end, she’s a whimpering, childlike presence whose former mentor comforts her with lines from Shakespeare? […] Oh, sure. To others it might have been just a good play. To us it was a catharsis. After few brief hours together I could swear Jen and I have known each other forever.