August 18, 2010
I enjoyed this article about the twilight world of the celebrity autograph convention circuit. When the guy who played Peter on "The Brady Bunch" says things like "I still believe in the mystery of celebrity", then you pretty much just have to nod and keep your stupid comments in your pocket.
(I'm aware that the nature of the event changed years ago, but there's a part of me that's still 14 and cannot fathom why the Soup Nazi from "Seinfeld" is at ComiCon.)
Here is a letter I have never received:
Dear clever man on the Internet,
I am directing a production of Hamlet, and I need to come up with a daring new interpretation of the play. I do not have time to alter the text, so I need something that uses all of the original words, but is still daring and new. The Shakespeare in the Park guys are doing a production of Othello that's either set in the water reclamation district or a gourmet kitchen (they haven't decided which), so they have reserved all of the modern dress in town, and the other theater is doing Macbeth set in a salsa dancing class, so there is no modern dress for me to use. As you can see, then, my options are quite limited. (Obviously, doing the play as it was written is not an option, as the other directors will laugh at me.) Please give me a daring new interpretation of Hamlet that nobody has ever done before. I will do nothing whatsoever for you in return.
A famous cutting-edge director
I am happy to oblige. Here are the five words you need:
"Hamlet is cool with it."
In this daring new interpretation, Hamlet has always liked Claudius, and is happy to see his mother get together with him. Shame about Dad, of course, but what are you going to do? The appearance of the ghost serves to reinforce the point that nothing can bring Hamlet down. Everyone enjoys his incessant gibberish; it is a nice pick-me-up, what with all of the death lately. Various of Hamlet's college friends — Horatio, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern — are summoned to the palace to enjoy Hamlet's goofy antics. (During the "to be or not to be" speech, he is making a silly monkey face and trying to decide whether his monkey impression is ready to go, or whether he should practice it some more.)
The text will support you in all of this. Actors may have to say certain lines in a sarcastic tone of voice, or wink as they speak. But people do that sort of thing.
The Murder of Gonzago is enacted in order to let Claudius know that even if he had killed the king, which everyone knows he'd never actually do, it would be fine, because Hamlet likes him that much. Hamlet is giving Claudius a thumbs up throughout all of this.
Ophelia is a cat. She is in heat and goes a bit weird as a result. Polonius is also a cat. Hamlet inadvertently knocks the window open by recklessly stabbing through the curtain, and Polonius escapes through the window. Everyone is sad about that. Ophelia gets neutered and will not stop messing around with her stitches. She must be put to sleep, and everyone is sad about that as well. But Hamlet and Laertes hold a terrifically exciting fencing exhibition, and everyone is roused from their lethargy. They share a drink.
Fortinbras is carrying Polonius as he arrives. (Polonius was up in a tree.) The entire court is pretending to be dead in order to surprise Fortinbras, little suspecting that he has a surprise for them.