Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Cast a Character

Think of yourself as the director of Hamlet. As the director of the play/movie, you need to have a clear, developed, complete concept of your vision of the play. A director’s vision of a play should all work together: the music should echo the set, and the costumes. You may find it useful to base your concept of the play around a singular theme that you want to reinforce through set, costumes, sound, and delivery.

Assignment: Propose your vision for the play by ‘casting a character.’ (Just one.) Your development of this character needs to address the following:

  • the physical looks of the character
  • the character’s ‘costume’ (Consider colors, fit, style, time period, and texture.)
  • how the character would deliver his or her lines?

You can also address (if needed):

  • how the stage or set would look and be arranged
  • the sound effects or music that you would use in the production

You can (and maybe even should) draw, create, or link to any images to aid in your description.

But, it is answering the WHY that is at the heart of this assignment. Your ‘vision’ must be based on your knowledge and understanding of the play, so you must provide textual evidence from Hamlet to help describe why you made certain choices. Exemplary assignments will provide a strategic reading of the play, as well as develop a theory about one of the characters that could be refuted or backed up with evidence from the text.

You will be graded on the MHS Long Composition Rubric

You need to post your ‘vision’ in the comments stream by Monday, 3.16.09 @ noon. It must be 1,200 to 1,500 words long.

17 comments:

Ashley A said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ashley A said...

The Queen of Denmark, Queen Gertrude, plays a vital role in the play Hamlet, not only with her physical presence but also through her interaction with others and apparent ulterior motives. Queen Gertrude’s actions are just a few of the sneaky and deceitful actions of the play so this vision will be based on an array of actions carried out by the characters and the potential devious meanings behind those actions.

Since I envision Queen Gertrude as a clever and secretive character, I would choose actress Julie Andrews Julie Andrews to play the role of Queen Gertrude. Her gentle, innocent looks combined with her abilities portray a secretive conniving attitude, makes her the perfect fit for this character. The play will take place during the same time period of the original text, around the 17th century because it allows for more of a traditional and elegant feel. There are specific moments of the play that reveal crucial elements of Queen Gertrude’s true character and for each of those moments the queen will take on a different appearance and present her lines in various tones, but in general, she will usually be dressed in a formal gown, with a short, clean cut hair style, faint amounts of makeup, and jewelry, all to emphasize her royalty and desire for power.

In act one scene two, the readers learn that Hamlet is grieving over the loss of his father and it is clear that the king is very unsympathetic to Hamlet’s feelings because he says, “ ‘Tis sweet and commendable in your nature, Hamlet,/ To give these mourning duties to your father./ But you must know your father lost a father… But to persever/ In obstinate condolement is a course/ Of impious stubbornness, ‘tis unmanly grief…”(87-94) The king speaks to Hamlet in a nonchalant and demeaning tone because he calls him unmanly for grieving for such a long period of time. The queen, however, is seen as comforting and accepting at this moment because in a soft and inviting tone, she says, “Let thy mother not lose her prayers, Hamlet,/ I pray thee stay with us, go not to Wittenberg.” (191-120)Queen Gertrude’s motherly instincts come out as she seems to worry about her son’s well being and hopes that he stays in Denmark so at least he will be close to her. In this scene, they are located in the castle and since it is late at night, Gertrude’s costume would be a long, simple, pink, silky nightgown. The length of her nightgown is important because it shows she is conservative, but the silky texture shows that she is wealthy. The pink color emphasizes the fact that she is to be portrayed as caring and sympathetic towards her son. She also would not have on any make-up because it expresses her motherly attributes and that although she is royalty, she is not always dressed fancy, especially when she is rushing to make sure her son is doing well.

By act two scene two, Queen Gertrude begins to act suspicious as many characters tell her that Hamlet has gone mad. She then call upon Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, two people she considered close friends of Hamlet, to talk with him and find out the cause of this alleged insanity. As she says, “Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz … I beseech you instantly to visit/ My too much changed son.” (34-35) she delivers these lines in a hurried tone because she is now even more worried about her son. However, her sneaky ways shine through slightly because the two people she sent to check on Hamlet, later proved to be unloyal characters. In this scene, the queen would be dressed in fancier clothing because she is now in the presence of others. She would wear a long, straight, green dress that is not too formal but one that shows she does hold a great amount of power in the castle. She would also wear makeup and have her hair nicely done because it gives a more elegant and proper appearance. After Guildenstern and Rosencrantz leave, she begins to speak with the king but in a powerful tone because the king is more set in his ways of thinking that Hamlet is completely insane. In response to the king telling Gertrude that Polonius has figured out the cause of Hamlet’s insanity, she tells him, “I doubt it is no other but the main,/ His father’s death and out [o’erhasty] marriage.”(56-57) The queen is slightly offended by the accusations and hastily informs the king that he probably has much to do with Hamlet’s swift change in behavior. There would also be music playing at this moment, one that has a fast tempo and abrupt, staccato sounds. The music would play when the queen begins to speak and at a medium volume and its sole purpose would be to emphasize the queens angered feelings toward the king because she feels he should take some of the blame for Hamlet’s new behavior instead of casting it off as if it is all Hamlet’s doing. This scene shows how unpredictable Gertrude can act.

The readers begin to see a completely different side of the queen and begin to wonder if the queen should be trusted after they uncover the truth behind Queen Gertrude and King Claudius’ marriage. Her actions could be seen as cold because in a short two months after the death of Hamlet’s father, Gertrude married his brother, Claudius. The queen could have done this in order to maintain Hamlet’s status as prince or she could have had ulterior motives and marred the king so she could keep her power over Denmark. With that, the character of Queen Gertrude would have to carry an arrogant and sneaky attitude with her all throughout the play, which causes the viewers to constantly question her motives.

Gertrude’s character now takes a drastic change, which allows the viewers to really see how I envision the queen to been a conniving person and this occurs just prior to and moments after Ophelia’s death. Things start to connect after the king speaks upon Ophelia’s present condition and how she too is now acting insane, he says, “…all from her father’s death – and now behold… next, your son gone, and he most violent author…” (75-79) The queen now sees the king’s real intentions of wanting Hamlet dead because he has caused so much destruction to Denmark. With Ophelia’s change in behavior and connections being made to Hamlet, such as Hamlet sending her love letters in the beginning of the play and even then the queen denied it, she had to get everyone to believe Ophelia was just acting insane on her own account. There is no better way to have this done by claiming Ophelia mysteriously drowned.

Suspiciously enough, the queen was the first person to report Ophelia’s death and she did so with such detail, “there is a willow grows askaunt the brook,/ That shows his hoary leaves in the glassy stream,/ Therewith fantastic garlands did she make…” (166-168) In addition, the queen would present her lines in such a tone of calamity and ease that the viewers will suspect the queen killed Ophelia. In act five scene one, the queen is shown throwing flowers on her grave and the stage direction would show her as simply throwing the flowers anywhere and in an aggressive manner as she says, “Sweets to the sweet, farewell! … I thought thy bridge bed to have decked sweet maid,/ And not have strew’d thy grave.” (229-232) Her tone would be cheerful and there would be quite, joyful music playing in the background. The music is important because its quite volume reflects her inner feelings of satisfaction and simultaneously contrasts the dark and gloomy setting, with dead trees scattered around and an eerie feeling to reflect the uncertainty many felt about where Ophelia should be buried. setting

My vision of having the viewers believe the queen is conniving and clever would be complete by act five scene two when she drinks the poison intended for Hamlet. Although the king told the queen not to drink the wine, she said to him, “I will, my Lord, I pray you pardon me” (273) and she delivers these lines in a quite tone, one that shows she accepts the fact that she knowingly is about to kill herself. Her words imply that she hopes the king will forgive her and her actions are viewed as courageous for dying to save her son, however, her cleverness prevails once again because she knows her actions thus far will not lead her to heave, however, her tone and slow movements allude to the idea that she hopes her final solemn actions will be viewed as repentance and allow her to go to heaven.

Mary N. said...

As a director, I would portray “The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark” as a Disney Medieval fairy-tale. Disney movies are always considered a classic that leaves an impression in its viewers just as “Hamlet” remains one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays. The Medieval setting of the fairy tales proves to be perfect for “Hamlet” as the play consists of a castle, a queen, a king, a prince, a fair maiden, and sword fights. However, Shakespeare has written “Hamlet” to have no happy ending; thus, this Disney version will be a twisted and an unexpected one in which the prince does not save the fair maiden, the king commits treason to his country, and the queen craves power.

Shakespeare’s play is ultimately a tragedy in which every character dies. However, he has included some tease scenes in which the audience truly believes that the finale of “Hamlet” will leave them relieved from the death of King Hamlet and the betrayal witnessed in the other characters. In Act Three, Scene Four, Hamlet visits his mother, Queen Gertrude, and warns her of King Claudius’ murderous act. The audience at this point would feel as though the Queen would pair up with her son to help him in his plans to avenge the late King Hamlet. On the contrary, she ends up betraying her own son to King Claudius and plays a part in sending him away to England, leaving the audience feeling disappointed. In Act Four, Scene Four, Hamlet makes a decision to return to Denmark from England in order to seek out his revenge for his late father, after seeing Fortinbras’ army. Hamlet makes an impressive speech about his plans, in which he says proudly, “O, from this time forth/ My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth” (4.4). Thus, the viewers feel riled up for the upcoming battle and become confident in Hamlet’s victory. Although it is attained at the end, the “hero” also dies and leaves the audience feeling unsatisfied as death is the ultimate winner in this tragic play. By directing this play in a Disney fairy-tale, the viewers would be teased into thinking “Hamlet” will end joyfully since all Disney movies do. In reality, “Hamlet” does not consist of a happily ever after.

With the Disney portrayal, I would have Queen Gertrude be played by the wicked fairy named Maleficent in “Sleeping Beauty.” The fact that Maleficent is a fairy gives off the false idea that she is a good-natured person, as viewers would perceive Gertrude to be since Shakespeare did not directly developed her as the antagonist in any sense, as he has done with the character Claudius. However, Queen Gertrude proves to be a power-hungry female who demonstrates her control over Hamlet and King Claudius through her actions. Maleficent’s tall stature and the staff she always carries around give off an impression of power and influence, which is what Queen Gertrude really possesses in “Hamlet” by occupying the position of queen of Denmark. In Scene Two of Act One, Hamlet actually considers suicide as he thinks about his mother, “O, that this too too solid flesh would melt/ Thaw and resolve itself into a dew“ (1.2)! Her actions of marrying Claudius and being affectionate with him affect Hamlet so strongly that she is able to indirectly force him to contemplate taking his life. What more, Queen Gertrude is completely aware of the toll her decision is taking on Hamlet, “I doubt it is no other but the main;/ His father's death, and our 'erhasty marriage” (2.2) Yet, she continues to be inconsiderate to her son’s feelings, knowing that he will not harm her for being a part of treason to the late King Hamlet because of the control she has over him through love. Thus, Hamlet will not take Gertrude’s power away from her, which she is protecting by having an equal handle on King Claudius. She is the one person who ultimately persuades King Claudius to send Hamlet to England as soon as possible when she feels threatened that her position will be taken away if Hamlet is to kill Claudius; she has run to the King, acting completely vulnerable and screaming that Hamlet is “mad as the sea and wind,” in which the King acts right away and demands Hamlet be taken away (4.1). King Claudius has thought of doing this before, but Queen Gertrude’s words act as a stronger influence for him to actually carry his plan of banning Hamlet out. By having Hamlet gone, King Claudius will remain safe and she, in return, will stay Queen of Denmark. Queen Gertrude’s disloyal persona to Hamlet due to a desire for power also reflects in Maleficent’s attire.

The way Maleficent is dressed, with a black Medieval body robe and a train at the end, gives her a silhouette of a rat when paired with her hairstyle that is split in two and is pointing straight up. The tight body robe resembles the body itself, the train gives off the impression of a tail, and the two pointy hair parts are perceived as ears. Since rats have often been portrayed in the media as a mechanism of betrayal and evil, the rat silhouette symbolizes the pretentiousness and the disloyalty of Queen Gertrude, which is evident through her interactions with Hamlet. The first time the audience witnesses Queen Gertrude’s treacherous ways is in Act One, Scene Two, when Hamlet recites his first soliloquy, contemplating suicide over the fact that “she married. O, most wicked speed, to post/ With such dexterity to incestuous sheets” (1.2)! Queen Gertrude does not even bother to wait for the mourning period to be over before marrying her brother-in-law, Claudius. Her desire for power has stripped away her consideration for her son’s feelings and for Denmark‘s chaotic situation after the late King has passed away. In addition, when Hamlet visits her in her room, she has put on a show of regret and of vulnerability when Hamlet reveals Claudius as the culprit in the late King’s death. Queen Gertrude begs “Hamlet [to] speak no more:/ Thou turn'st mine eyes into my very soul;/ And there I see such black and grained spots/ As will not leave their tinct” (3.4) Thus, the audience believes that she has seen her faults in the hasty marriage to King Claudius. However, in the very next scene, Queen Gertrude has run to King Claudius and betrayed Hamlet by expressing a pretense fear for him, which leads to the banishment of Hamlet to England. Thus, her pretentious and traitorous character proves true through her contradictory actions.

Queen Gertrude’s incredibly disingenuous personality shines through the delivery of her lines, also. In the scene in which Gertrude expresses concern for Hamlet, she says, “Guildenstern and gentle Rosencrantz:/ And I beseech you instantly to visit/ My too much changed son” (2.2). Although she is suggesting her care for Hamlet, she is also indicating to Guildenstern and Rosencrantz to keep an eye on him because he may threaten her position as Queen if he plans to kill Claudius. These two characters remain by Hamlet’s side and watching his every move throughout the majority of the play. Thus, she will take on a rather insincere tone, just like Maleficent when she claims to feel distressed at having not received an invitation for the party. However, there is just enough disappointment in her voice to evoke reaction from the king and queen. Queen Gertrude will sound insincere, but there will be just a bit of a caring or a vulnerable undertone in her voice depending on the scene so that the other characters will not suspect her motive of attaining power. For example, in the scene in which Queen Gertrude begs for forgiveness from Hamlet when he reveals King Claudius’ murder to her, she will take on a weak tone in a soft voice to appear hurt and tender to the sins she has committed, much like when Maleficent sounding somewhat pained for not having been wanted at the party. However, she proves to be completely dishonest in her hurt tone as she cursed the baby upon taking down the king’s and queen’s guards just as Queen Gertrude has run to King Claudius to banish Hamlet to England in the next scene.

Queen Gertrude, in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” proves to be hungry for power, which leads to dishonesty and betrayal in her character. However, the way Shakespeare has developed her as a virtuous mother and wife on the surface so that her motive of attaining power remains the background in the plot makes her a rather powerful character. By directing “Hamlet” in a new classical Disney movie, I am able to take advantage of Maleficent’s strong stature, suspecting rat silhouette, and insincerity to perfectly present the character of Gertrude.

Stephen said...

Casting Character: Ophelia
Theaters have, in recent times, and historically, adapted Shakespeare’s play, Hamlet, in varied and creative ways. One adaptation might include modern clothing, with different social classes correspondingly indicated by clothing with better quality materials and better fit. Adaptations span many, many time periods, from the modern ones, back to ones that reflect a far earlier Hamlet than Shakespeare envisioned. Adaptations also might interpret actions from characters differently, or, through nuanced understanding of the play, based on the director’s reading of Shakespeare’s works.

I believe that modern adaptations, while broadening the possibilities of a play by creating different settings and different character costumes, ultimately are ineffective because they strive to fit an anachronistic design on a play that was originally structured to reflect Medieval Denmark. While it creates a striking sight, a scene where a Hamlet dressed in a 20th century suit with hair slicked back by gel, and a scene with Claudius wearing a military uniform with epaulettes while both speak Elizabethan English from the play, is always, by definition, not going to be realistic. If one could change the setting and the character costumes, why not paraphrase the entire play with modern parlance? Why keep one aspect of the play modern and another medieval? In keeping with the exercise imagining myself as the director of Hamlet, I would, first and foremost, bring the adaptation back to Shakespeare’s basics. I would let the play itself guide me in selecting appropriate costumes for the characters, who would, in addition to speaking Elizabethan English, would wear period costumes. This, I think, would best reflect Shakespeare’s original concept of Hamlet by making the setting and the characters match their words, and their period vocabulary.

Some playwrights purposely plan in the setting and the actors’ costumes, down to the most exacting detail. Indeed, Samuel Beckett was so enraged with an acting group’s adaptation of his play, Endgame, especially the setting, that he threatened action against this acting group for deviating from the setting of his play. To avoid legal conflicts, this acting group chose to restore the original setting and the costumes. Shakespeare leaves no such directions. Shakespeare simply puts the setting of the play as “Denmark,” and leaves the director to figure out the rest.

In order to direct a play that’s going to reflect genuine Shakespearean language and costumes that reflect the time period, we must first assess which actors and actresses to pick from; people who will best represent the characters. Focusing on Ophelia, the actress that we select must be very pale. Since Ophelia is Polonius’s daughter, and Polonius is a noblewoman, it is safe to assume that she is of a certain noble pedigree. Due to her blue-blooded status, Ophelia doesn’t work in the sun, a common indicator of having to work for a living. For actors playing nobility in medieval times, the paler, the better. The actress must also be passably attractive to the audience, defined as having no significant flaws in facial structure. The audience won’t believe that she is Hamlet’s lover unless she truly is, at least in the audience’s eyes, attractive. Third, she must be of European descent, since Ophelia represents a Danish/European noblewoman.

Clothing represents an altogether different problem. Costuming, along with actor selection, is another important role in defining a specific character. Looking at our character of Ophelia, we must also take into account the historical time period in designing the costume. Keeping in mind that Ophelia is a wealthy noblewoman, since her father is a nobleman assigned to assist the king, she must dress to fit her position. Since women did not wear trousers or pants in medieval times, this leaves gowns made with high quality materials, such as lace, silks, and satins. The dresses should be carefully ruffled, and the dresses should fit tightly on the torso and upper body.

Before we come to a discussion of how the actress portraying Ophelia should deliver her lines, I think it is important to first discuss my vision of Ophelia’s character in general. Ophelia, in my view is one of the most difficult characters to cast, simply because there is so much controversy surrounding the views expected of her, and her role in furthering the plot. Ophelia is first introduced to the audience in Act 1 Scene 3, when she talks to her brother, Laertes before he embarks on a journey abroad to attend school. Laertes warns her to guard her heart during her relationship with Hamlet. He advises her to keep a tighter control over her relationship with Hamlet, even suggesting that they temporarily stop seeing each other. Ophelia, with her first significant lines in Act 1 Scene 3, retorts with an admonition to heed his own advice. This retort: “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep/As a watchman to my heart. But, good my brother,/ Do not, as some ungracious pastors do,/Show me the steep and thorny way to heaven/Whiles…/ Himself the primrose path of dalliance treads,/ And reaks not his own rede” (1,3, 45-50) can be interpreted as playful ribbing of her brother, as if she knew that Laertes was living a wild lifestyle. This playfulness is indicative of a passion in Ophelia, not seen in passive women, that we can see when Hamlet confronts her with “Get thee to a nunnery” (3, 1,120). After Hamlet ‘breaks up’ with her, she says, “That unmatch’d form and stature of blown youth/Blasted with ecstasy. O, woe is me/ T’ have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” This distress shows up later when she stumbles into the Queen’s presence in a sorry state. Clearly, Ophelia is a woman of the passions. If one reads deeper into the lines, one can even infer that since Hamlet tells Ophelia to “Get thee to a nunnery,” which implies that the woman needs to be cleansed religiously, that Ophelia may have slept with Hamlet. However, when Ophelia is with her father, her behavior changes, with her manner becoming more humble and deferential, addressing him as “my lord.” Therefore, I would portray Ophelia as a person who acts deferential to her superiors, but assertive, and even passionate with her peers. When talking to Laertes, the actress should be playful and ribbing, while when addressing the king, Hamlet, or her father, she should be more solemn and formal. After Hamlet breaks the news of their ‘break up’ to Ophelia, I believe that she, contrary to what others may argue, does “go mad.” I don’t think that there is sufficient evidence to prove otherwise, and if there is, it is mostly conjecture which cannot be proven. After this break up, I envision Ophelia wearing brown and gray garments; peasant’s clothing to symbolize her sadness and madness. I also envision her speaking in a voice that lacks lucidity, probably a “happy” tone, or a childish one.

Some may term this casting of Ophelia as too traditional. I believe, however, that in order for all the “pieces” of a play to work together: the actual lines, the setting, the language, and the parlance all reflecting the time period that Shakespeare assigns to this play, that a “back to the basics” approach is needed. Since Shakespeare provides precious little information, we must “guess” at the time period and the appropriate costumes. We must also “guess” how each character delivers lines. Based on the personality traits that I gleaned from Hamlet, I would cast Ophelia as a character who is both opinionated, but passive in front of authority. What characterizes her madness is her utter disregard for decorum, the antithesis of passivity before authority. Ophelia, in the end, is a tragic character, another casualty in Hamlet’s pursuit of revenge against King Claudius.

Jenny L said...

The ambiguity that surrounds the female characters of Hamlet allows for a wide range of interpretations; everything from their actions to their motives and intentions are questionable and debatable. One of the two leading (and only) female characters in the play, Ophelia is particularly subject to such debate. Shakespeare creates the vagueness that defines Ophelia through the lack of stage directions as well as the varying emotions, actions, and intentions that surrounds the lines she delivers. Specifically, in the first act in which Ophelia was introduced, Act 1 Scene 3, her portrayal as a weak female subject to the advice and rules of Laertes and Polonius is seen. As a director to the play of Hamlet, I would create a modern setting to contrast the old traditional values placed on women in the days in which the play takes place. The setting, though modern, will incorporate a rigid structure, architecture that lacks a sense of comfort, and instead incorporate more of a cold and impersonal feeling. Mirroring the rigid and cold relationship between Polonius and Ophelia, the setting will serve to enhance not the father-daughter relationship, but rather more of a business like and motive filled one. Polonius speaks to Ophelia not out of concern but rather out of desire for possible financial gains through the use of his daughter as he advises her against believing “[Hamlet’s] vows, for they are brokers,/ Not of that dye which their investments show,/ But mere [implorators] of unholy suits/ Breathing like sanctified and pious bonds,/ The better to [beguile].” (1.3, 127-130) Throughout Hamlet, Ophelia’s appearance is always accompanied by that of a man who in turn is always advising or ordering her to certain actions and decisions. However, rather than the weak, fragile, and even clueless individual she is portrayed to be, she seems to have an underlying rebellious nature that is restricted through the traditions in which she is surrounded by. She is caught between the conventions of being a woman during her time and her fear of revealing her true feelings as she presents to her father the private details of her relationship with Hamlet. It is in her lack of protests against the advice and decisions her father provides her that creates a sense of ambiguity as to her motive. Though she reveals to Polonius the feelings and actions of Hamlet towards her, she never reveals her own true feelings. She reports on others but never herself. By keeping her feelings so private, makes her character questionable and even mysterious. Throughout the play, the question of trust and loyalty is tested, as Ophelia seems to create a weak and unknowing façade, by subordinating herself, saying “I do not know, my lord, what I should think.” (1.3, 102) As a girl confused as to the direction and the actions she should take concerning the feelings she holds towards Hamlet, she resorts to depending on the guidance and advice the men in her life to legitimize her actions.

In casting the character of Ophelia, I would choose the actress of Keira Knightley for not only the European demeanor she exudes, but also for her ability to portray herself as a female struggling to come to find herself in a male dominated society, as in her role in Pride and Prejudice. Ophelia fails to overcome the socially accepted norms of her time by remaining obedient to the wishes of her father and her brother as she finds herself heartbroken in Act 3 Scene 1 of the play. Her indecision as to whether to pursue her feelings towards Hamlet or not gives the impression of, rather than one that is conflicted, a sense of disloyalty and cunningness. The character of Ophelia is one that can be easily misunderstood as to the nature of her character, whether she is purely innocent or calculatingly manipulative. Without a maternal figure in her life, she resorts to Polonius, hoping to find answers to her feelings. However, the narrow-mindedness of Polonius leads him to interpret Hamlet’s actions as one done out of his “mad[ness] for [Ophelia’s] love.” (2.1 82)

Though placed in a modern setting, Ophelia would be dressed in medieval clothing, to emphasize on the conflict she faces in living during a time in which she is caught between obeying the wishes of her father and the feelings she possess. Though Ophelia is aware of Hamlet’s acts of love towards her she does not know how to react to it, resorting to, ironically the most clueless character of all, her father, Polonius for advice. In Act 2 Scene 1 in which Ophelia reports to Polonius that she has “been so affrighted” (2.1 73) by Hamlet, with “his doublet all unbrac’d,/ No hat upon his head, his stockins fouled,/ Ungart’red, and down-gyved to his ankle,/ Pale as his shirt, his knees knocking each other” (2.1 75-78) her fear arises not out of repulsion, but rather an uncertainty as to how to react. She has mistaken her love for Hamlet as fear, for it is deemed as a “violent property” and “desperate undertakings” by Polonius. In delivering the lines, Knightley will possess a look of confusion rather than fear, hoping for the comfort and assurance of her father, but suddenly finds herself in a position in which she is thrust into a relationship that is rather than romantic, one of a serious nature that must be addressed by the King.

As the play transitions, the relationship between Ophelia and Hamlet transforms from one of young love to one that is more politically motivated. The character of Ophelia will grow from one who is misguided by the directions of her father and the king to one that has come to the realization of her love for Hamlet. It is not that she is naïve or innocent, but rather her awareness of the social standards of her time that creates the flaw in her approach to the love first shown towards her by Hamlet. In Act 3 Scene 1, the infamous scene in which Hamlet breaks the heart of Ophelia, asking her to “get thee [to] a nunn’ry”, is the scene in which the character of Ophelia faces a turning point. Though at first she is confused as to how to react to the feelings of Hamlet, in this scene she will come to feel the weight that results from the pressure placed upon her as a result of the many advices she is thrown.

In many ways, the play can not only be interpreted as the tragedy of Hamlet, but also of Ophelia as well since as she is pulled in many different directions by the men in her life. The pressure she is met with, from her father, her brother, and even from the expectations of her from society leaves her at odds with her own personal desires and feelings. As the play draws to an end, Ophelia goes mad at the loss of her father, and in her madness she reveals the deception she feels by Hamlet asking “How should [I] your true-love know/ From another one?” (4.5 23-24) Though the suicide of Ophelia is questionable, the end to her life marks the end of the conflict she deals with throughout the play. The pressure she experiences from the male dominance in her life ultimately characterizes Ophelia not of a character of subordination, but one who tries to comply to the standards of her time while being true to her own feelings.

Cynthia R said...

The time was the 1920’s. The place was Chicago, Illinois. The story was Hamlet by William Shakespeare.

Shakespeare’s Ophelia from the play Hamlet, is arguably one of the most interesting characters in the entire play. There are so many theories and interpretations surrounding Ophelia that a director could have countless ways of envisioning Ophelia’s character as well as the setting it self.

As a director, I would begin with correctly defining what my own theories and interpretations are of Ophelia’s character. From analyzing her character closely throughout the play, I would come to the conclusion that Ophelia is a character who is much stronger and more intelligent than given credit for. He character would be that of a young woman whose intelligence and involvement with Hamlet is not recognized fully by the other characters. In my movie version of Shakespeare’s play, Ophelia would have been in on Hamlet’s plan to kill Claudius because he chose Gertrude over her. Also, as a director, I would choose to have Ophelia’s death be a result of Gertrude killing her instead of a suicide (although I would not show it, but instead make sure the audience catches on to the idea).

To be more specific, I would have the role of Ophelia be played by Natalie Portman. I chose Portman for a few reasons. First, she is a very intelligent woman (graduated from Harvard with a bachelor’s degree in psychology), which is what I imagined Ophelia to be. Not only is she educated, but she has also played roles where her intelligence or wit has shined, such as V for Vendetta. Second, Portman has that understated beauty that I pictured Ophelia having. She would be beautiful in a simply and subtle way. That subtlety is exactly what I would want Ophelia to portray. She would be intelligent without letting others know, and beautiful without flaunting it. I would want Ophelia to even come off as simpleminded or frail in order to demonstrate to the audience that she is merely putting up an act so that those around her do not catch on to her ways. This idea of frailty was seen from Portman in the film The Other Boleyn Girl.

One scene where Portman would need to act simple-minded would be in Act II Scene I when Ophelia says to Polonius, “My lord, I do not know/ But I truly do fear it,” (lines 83- 84) and “No good my lord, but as you did command/ I did repel his letters, and denied/ his access to me,” (lines 105-107). In these two passages, Ophelia speaks to the men around her as if she has no mind of her own. She pretends not to know whether Hamlet is mad with love and pretends that nothing ever happened between her and Hamlet. At this point in the play, the audience knows that “access” was clearly not denied between Hamlet and Ophelia. In the next scene, the audience sees Hamlet behave strangely toward Polonius; Hamlet is calculatedly mad in his words to Polonius. This measured madness would lead the audience to think that Hamlet is only pretending to be mad and therefore, one could infer that Ophelia might be in on his act.

I would have Portman deliver these lines and others just like it with a naive and immature look on her face. She would not go as far as acting ditsy; instead she would act as if she were superior to men. Since women have been treated like inferior to men throughout history, it could be interpreted that because she was wise beyond her time period, Ophelia would constantly have to bite her tongue and play stupid. A perfect example of this “inferior” behavior in order to disguise her intelligence could be seen in Act III Scene II when Ophelia says to Hamlet, “I think nothing my lord,” (line 110), “You are naught, you are naught. I’ll mark the play” (line 136), and “You are keen, my lord, you are keen,” (line 234). I would have Portman read these lines with some subtle sarcasm. It would be as if she was pretending to really be complimenting Hamlet, while in reality, she was somewhat annoyed by him. This idea brings me to a slightly more farfetched theory which is that Hamlet and Ophelia never really loved each other. Instead, their relationship was built off of convenience; whether it was convenient for Ophelia to get closer to the Gertrude and Claudius in order to get revenge (for Claudius choosing Gertrude over Ophelia), or whether it was convenient for Hamlet to distract everyone with the idea of him being madly in love so that they would not notice his plan to kill Claudius.

In the scene where, Hamlet is ending his relationship with Ophelia (Act III Scene I), I would have Portman do some overacting on purpose. I would want the audience to understand that Ophelia’s character was in on the breakup all along and that it was part of the act that Hamlet had to put up in front of Polonius and Claudius. The line, “O woe is men t’have seen what I have seen, see what I see!” (line 160), would have been read in a very exaggerated tone. I would even have Portman go as far as to put her hand on her forehead (as if about to faint) and purposely speak loud enough to make sure that Polonius and Claudius hear the entire conversation.

Possibly the most important scene for Ophelia’s character development would b Act IV Scene V when she is singing and acting mad. Throughout this scene, I would have Portman prancing around and behaving in a childish manner, then, when she reads lines 178 to 184, I would have her manner change a bit. Ophelia’s true intelligence and wit would come out as she says, “There’s a fennel for you and columbines. There’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace a’Sundays. You may wear rue with difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they withered all when my father died. They say ‘a made a good end,” (lines 178- 184). I would have Portman get really close to Claudius’s face in a seductive manner as if about to kiss him. She would even stroke his cheek down to his chest with the very tip of her finger while Gertrude looks in horror. Then Portman would get just as close to Gertrude and stroke her hair as she hands her the flowers. This action would let the audience know that Ophelia has had enough with playing the ‘dumb’ role and has let her true side show.

Also important to my movie version of Shakespeare’s Hamlet would be my choices in time and setting. I envisioned the story to take place in Chicago in the 1920’s. My inspiration for such a setting was the movie Chicago, based on the play with the same title. I chose this setting because I wanted to give the play a more modern feel without brining the story to the present. Chicago was interesting to me because of all the corruption and backstabbing that went on with the industries and machines of that time. I also drew inspiration from how the characters of that movie (specifically the women), where a lot smarter than what the public gave them credit for. These women committed such horrible crimes like murder and got away with it by acting in the courtroom. This idea translates to how Ophelia was smarter than given credit for in the play. It seems as though she knew what she was doing all along and was in on Hamlet’s plan from the beginning.

The setting would be gray and would mainly consist of large city buildings. Jazz music would play in the background to add to that gangster mood. The royalty in Shakespeare’s play would be replaced by a wealthy family, most likely the owners of a large, yet corrupt business. As for their attire, the cast would wear the usual 1920’s fashion (suits for men, and flapper dresses for women). In the first few scenes, I would have Portman wear soft colors like butter yellow, pink, sea-foam green, and white to represent this young and naïve character. Her hair would be up in hair clips and she would have a fresh face. Then, in the last scenes where she is singing, I would have her wear a short black flapper dress, bold red lipstick, smoky eye make-up and her hair down, to one side is a sexy way. This change in appearance would represent Ophelia letting out her witty and vindictive side.

Overall, I believe that my movie would be an interesting adaptation of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in which more focus would be placed on Ophelia’s character.

Andy V. said...

Claudius is the king of Demark, and was only able to gain his royal rank by being sneaky, untrustworthy, and heartless. In a play, his character should present his dishonest character. He should be the character that the audience easily sees as the antagonist who only cares about his own needs. Through the way how the way he dresses, the actor’s looks, and Claudius delivers his lines, the viewers should see his selfishness and his lack of empathy.

Claudius should be a character that is not afraid to display his wealth. A way an audience can easily see his affinity to being powerful and rich, is to have needlessly expensive and flamboyant clothing. As a king, showing wealth and power is expected, however Claudius should even contrast with any other royal figures in the play. I easily envision him in layer after layer of clothing. Claudius should be wrapped in silks and furs and wear unnecessary amounts of jewelry. I can imagine him with a gold ring around each finger and many gold necklaces around his neck. Of course, Claudius should have a large extravagant crown on his head. I want to cast this character this way in order to show that he only cares about living an over extravagant life. Claudius only thinks about himself as he easily brushes off his brother’s recent death introducing his need by saying “yet so far hath discretion with nature that we with wisest sorrow think on him together with remembrance of ourselves.” (Act 1 Scene 2 Line 5) Readers can easily see his lack of sorrow in his brother’s death and his eagerness to fulfill his own needs. He should be dressed looking like that goal is the only thing on his mind.

Claudius is a rather heartless and greedy character, but extremely cunning and fitting to be Hamlet’s nemesis. His character should be portrayed by an actor who has a face that can be taken seriously. The actor should be a respectable in height and weight. The actor should be around six feet tall and should not be over weight. His face should be untrustworthy and confident. I can imagine him with a constant stern face that gives him an unapproachable look. Claudius should have a look to show him as a character that is capable of killing his brother, creating lies, and being Hamlet’s target for the majority of the play. When the audience sees him they should know that he is a character that needs to be taken seriously unlike characters like Polonius. Claudius is a character that should be taken seriously and have an image to back it up, because he is a character that knows how to trick and kill people. He is able to give an argument that Hamlet’s sorrow is an “unmanly grief” and “it shows a will most incorrect to heaven, a heart unfortified, a mind impatient, an understanding simple and unschooled.” (Act 1 Scene 1 Line 94) Although cold-blooded, his argument and thought process is respectable. His ability create a scenario to Hamlet’s death is also proof that he should be taken seriously. Claudius creates a situation where Laertes and Hamlet have a duel with Hamlet’s chance of survival stacked against him due to the use of poison. By conjuring this cunning plan, he is able to avoid responses about Hamlet’s death because “even his mother shall uncharge the practice and call it accident.” (Act 4 Scene 7 Line 67) By his actions and thoughts, readers are able to see his is confident and cunning; however he is equally heartless and untrustworthy. He becomes a character that cannot be taken lightly, which can only made appropriate by having an image that equally demands respect as well as distrust.

Lastly, the way the actor delivers Claudius’s lines will be the most important part for the audience to see the evil king and his ambitions. Claudius needs to deliver his lines in a very confidently and without shame. It is because he is able to deceive people, that he is able to become the new king. At the same time, he has to be proud of how his chain of lies allows him to become king. It is easy to imagine his proud and confident voice when he gave thanks to everyone that “gave” him the idea to marry his sister-in-law for the good of the nation or when he was able to devise a seemingly perfect plan to kill Hamlet. However, at certain points Claudius needs to be out of character, to allow the audience to see he is obviously lying to gain the favor of everyone. When Gertrude breaks the news that Hamlet kills Polonius, Claudius says that his love for him allowed Hamlet’s condition to become worse. Claudius should over dramatize the lines “but so much was our love, we would not understand what was most fit, but, like the owner of a foul disease, to keep it from divulging, let it feed.” (Act 4 Scene 1 Line 19) By overacting, the audience will see how Claudius is pretending to feel guilt for Hamlet’s actions. The audience would be able to hate Claudius’s personality more. Everyone would easily see he is lying in order to seem like a good man.

Claudius is a character that has the greed and apathy of an antagonist and the intelligent mind to challenge Hamlet. It is appropriate that the actor that plays him looks and sounds like a confident, proud, and untrustworthy character. Claudius is a character that needs to be respected and recognized. His clothing and accessories should show his wealth and lack of shame of how he achieved his position. Seeing how he kills his brother only for power, he would probably take advantage of it and use it to have a rich life. The actor himself needs to be confident and worthy of respect. Claudius is the man that Hamlet finds worthy of killing. Claudius’s actor must lack sympathy is his visage and give an uneasy feeling. Lastly, he must deliver each line without any shame of lying and deceiving people. He must be the character that everyone in the audience knows that he is lying. By combining all these elements together, Claudius becomes a very fitting antagonist to Hamlet. The audience will be fully able to see his ability to kill and lie without showing any regret. By having Claudius seems so evil, it allows the viewers to cheer for Hamlet more, and dislike Claudius.

Vanessa G. said...

Place: New Hampshire (because there are many crimes in this scene and NH is generally woods, so committing these acts could go unnoticed; there are many ponds and “rivers”)
Time: Early 1800s (I want it to be a few more hundred years later than what Shakespeare had written the play in, only to change things around a bit)


In William Shakespeare's play, The Tragedy of Hamlet, we are introduced to numerous characters, in which all can be casted and depicted in varying ways. But, one particular character that especially seized my attention was the Queen Gertrude. The Queen is a mysterious character and I, as the director of the film find that casting her would apparently be based solely on perspective and impression.

It will be appropriate to give some background information on this specific character, in order for my decisions on the way I portray her in the film to be comprehensive. Queen Gertrude is Hamlet's mother. She was formerly married to King Hamlet, but was found, murdered. With that, the closest heir to the throne was Claudius, the former King Hamlet's brother, and uncle to Hamlet (the son). She is then married to Claudius. It is then revealed that the new King was the murderer of Hamlet and he possessed the least amount of sympathy out all the characters in the play. He even tells Hamlet in Act 1 Scene 2, to “throw to earth/ This unprevailing woe, and think of us/ As of a father” (37 lines 106-108). He wants Hamlet to be more like a man and instead see himself as his new father. However, Hamlet, was not at all pleased with her decision in betrothing the new King Claudius so rapidly. At first, I felt sympathy for her because I realized that helping rule an entire kingdom is an enormous responsibility, so therefore she probably had no choice but to put aside the death of her husband and marry Claudius. Her son Hamlet constantly reminds her of her unsympathetic choice of remarrying, not too long after his father's murder. He even mocks her. At this point, I still believed that he was just bitter and that he would overcome this feeling towards his mother, but he doesn't. One can actually say that he was holding a grudge against her.

The setting for the plays will obviously change. The only aspect that I would not change would be the Queen's chamber. It will have walls of stone and have a dreary and dull atmosphere/vibe to it. I chose the stony walls because it symbolizes her heart, which I feel is hard on the interior and exterior, impenetrable. The temperature will most of the time be cool but depending on the scene, I will transfer it to chilly, mirroring her chilling personality/motives. That particular temperature would most articulate best in the scene where Hamlet enters the Queen's room. The chilling temperature would symbolize the tension and of course, the Ghost that passes through.

In Act 3 Scene 4, the Queen is at first discussing something with Polonius when they hear Hamlet approaching. Polonius then decides to retreat behind a curtain. This certain scene provides readers of the play a strange depiction of the Queen because it disorganizes all the prior opinions one could have had. Hamlet alters the Queen in a manner that does just that. When Hamlet purposely brings up his father's name, he mocks her, but it is her response that makes all the matter worse. As soon as Hamlet enters he asks his mother what is the matter. She answers that he has offended his father. He shoots back “Mother, you have my father much offended...go, you answer with a wicked tongue”, (102, 10 and 12). I can imagine Gertrude found standing at first and when she replies the first time to Hamlet, I can imagine her sitting, with a look of shock on her face when she answers finally, “Why, how now, Hamlet?” (102, 13). I can also picture Hamlet advancing towards her, shaking his index finger to her face like an adult who tries to reprimand a child after doing something wrong. Hamlet makes the Queen feel so bad that she tells him to stop speaking of the matter of her dead husband. “O Hamlet, speak no more!/ Thou turn'st my [eyes into my very] soul,/ And there I see such black and [grained] spots...”, (105, 88-90). When Queen Gertrude is delivering these very lines, I want her to be over dramatic, rest the back of her hand on her forehead with her eyes closed, like those actors in the movies. I think that will emphasize the fact that she cares nothing about the death of her husband. There was a lingering theory that she is the type of character that adores power and there would be no other way but to marry Claudius. But of course, no one is to know her true, genuine intentions. For the rest of the scene, I want her to over exaggerate everything, from her lines to her facial expressions, so she could provide the illusion that she actually cares. I also imagine a fireplace in her chamber and when the Ghost appears, I want the burning flame to go out and the temperature to drop enough to make the room colder than it was before. Then, when Hamlet asks Queen Gertrude whether she sees the spirit of the former king, Hamlet, I want her to stutter “Nothing at all, yet all that is I see...nothing but ourselves”, (106, 133 and 135).

Furthermore, Queen Gertrude's character, as I have mentioned in the previous paragraph, is mysterious. I do not think that she is the normal, everyday character. I find that there is more to her character than we give credit for. She's the type that I see is normal at first, but then something happens and forces her do commit a cunning or even drastic act.

For her physical appearance, I want her wardrobe simple, yet again, more than meets the eye. Most of the time, she wear a white gown, then, as it graduates to the bottom, I will have it fade to an off white distinction, close to ivory. It sounds as if it would not be noticeable, but again, so isn't her character. Any other of her costumes will have the same effect, solid, then advancing to a fade. I also want the Queen to have a good amount of long hair on her head because her hair will be the only aspect of herself that can help her hide who she really is.

Another significant scene involving the Queen Gertrude is when she informs Laertes about his sister's death. I want her to wear red in this scene. Everyone else will wear somber colors, such as grey, black, generally dark colors. I want the Queen to stand out among the rest. I support this theory that the Queen is responsible for Ophelia's death and that Ophelia might have had a brief affair with the King Claudius and somehow the Queen uncovers this, the very reason to wear red, symbolizing death. There are many lingering pieces of evidence that can defend this claim. Even before Ophelia dies, her lines seem too suspicious. She says to Queen Gertrude in Act 4 Scene 5, “There's rue for you, and here's/ some for me; we may call it herb of grace a ' Sundays. You/ may wear your rue with a difference”, (122, 179-181). She tells Gertrude that there is “rue”, meaning “sorrow and repentance”, for her. The impression that I gained from this line is that either Ophelia knows something about the Queen or is foretelling of something the Queen will do in the near future of that moment. In Act 4 Scene 7, King Claudius is talking to Laertes about Hamlet and formulating a plan. But, the plan seems too much similar to the situation after Ophelia's death. “And for his death no wind of blame shall breathe,/ But even his mother shall uncharge the practice,/ And call it accident”, (127, 66-68). Here, he is planning on murdering Hamlet with poison and plans for it to be accidental. This is exactly what Gertrude might've done with Ophelia's death. There's no one to blame.

In Act 5 Scene 1, the Queen states, “Your sister's drown'd, Laertes...Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay/ To muddy death”, (130-131, 164 and 182-183). It is easy to see that there are only periods and commas as punctuation marks. If she was even at all sympathetic or sad, she would have had exclamation points here and there, but it seems as though she is talking with no remorse or emotion. She even calls Ophelia a “wretch” and this word has two meanings, one of which happens to be a despicable person. She knew too much detail of Ophelia's death and that would only be possible if she were there at the scene of the crime. I want her to speak her lines authoritatively, like an army sargeant, but without the yelling. They tend to speak in monotone. I want the least amount of emotion as possible from Queen Gertrude.

As Ophelia foretold, the Queen endures sorrow and repentance. The Queen dies as the tragedy nears to its end in Act 5 Scene 2. She drinks a poisoned cup in which Claudius tells her not to, but she persists. “The drink, the drink! I am pois'ned”, (151, 292). Here, I want her wearing black and white. White will symbolize the innocence of the situation because she knows nothing of her poisoned beverage. The black will symbolize her sins and a majority of her heart. The way she speaks will be genuine and will reflect the actual pain she is experiencing.

For the film, Queen Gertrude is definitely an interesting character to cast. Her clothing, her hair, and her room are all significant features of the Queen. She is a significant character herself in the play because she reveals a great deal about each of the characters in their own way.

CarlaC said...

Carla Castillo
Period 2
Mr. Gallagher


In my version of Hamlet the theme is time. I want to manipulate color and lighting as my theme to put a brand new spin on an old classic. By adding certain colors and lighting in Hamlet it can give it a whole new meaning. The character I would focus the most on casting would be King Claudius. All the issues and altercations happen because of actions made by Claudius’s character. Casting him would make the play have substance.
Claudius would have to have a personality that almost comes off as a like able character. He should be charming and almost addicting, like his personality has a gravitational pull to it. At the same time he should have a humorous side to him which makes him more relatable to the audience. The actor would be like a combination of John Lithgow in Don Quixote and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Iselin in The Manchurian Candidate. This way the characters in Hamlet and the audience is never quite sure what to make of him. This suspense of never knowing what he is up to or who he really is will make and amazing play.

For scenery I want it to be a timeless feel, I want it to be so there is no exact time or place so the story can be relatable to any person of any age or upbringing. I want it the lighting of the play to be dark with an intense hue of red. Red is an important color to appear in Hamlet because it represents passion, lust, pain, and blood. In this Shakespearian play there is a lot of actions of passion. Whether it be passion to kill, to love, or to gain power, it is in Hamlet. I want the color red to almost be a character, I want its presence to be known and felt by the audience. In Hamlet Claudius is the most obvious villain in the play so I want to take his character and twist it around I don’t want the audience to know him and all of his intentions the minute he speaks I want the audience to leave with questions about this man and why he was as he is. Claudius would have to have a presence that is felt by all when ever he appears, he has to be like a drug addicting yet reprehensible after you have let him into your system.
With timing I feel like having certain scenes happen before or after they actually occur in the play would give the audience a bit of a twist. For example having Hamlets death happen before the whole play really starts so the audience thinks he is watching his life flash before his eyes. Also I want moments between Hamlet and Ophelia to look and be set up exactly as the moments he has with his mother. This will give those scenes a really eerie feel to it. For example when Hamlet is talking to his mother about how he has seen an apparition of his father appear. I would have her seated at an angle towards the audience and Hamlet with a red light coming from behind her chair and blue color on Hamlet. So when he has his interaction with Ophelia that both Claudius and Polonius are watching there will be a red light on Ophelia to show passion and love, and blue light on Hamlet to show despair and confusion.

Claudius would have a color assigned to him like all other characters for him I would wants to put a red and green light on him, by doing this it is showing the essence of confusion and two sidedness to his character. The color and lighting in this play would
Make a huge difference to the effect the characters would have on the audience.
In my version of Hamlet I would have the color and lighting very intricate with certain colors belonging to certain characters so that the colors would become characters in the play. Like for King Cladius the character I would focus on the most would be him because in the play he is pretty readable his intentions are basically known so by creating a Claudius as a man of mystery it would put a whole new spin on Hamlet.

Kayla P said...

In Shakespeare’s “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” Ophelia is in very few scenes, yet she is still considered a very important character. It is almost impossible to get into her mind, so a few different aspects would be key in choosing someone to play her. First, there would be a fine line between innocence and promiscuity, leaning closer to the former. Second, her deliverance of lines up to act 3, scene 1 would be polite, yet her tongue would be sharp. In her last few appearances, she would come off as child-like, saddened, and insane. The final aspect of casting that would need to be taken care of is costume. Colors and materials would play an important part, as well as the period they represent, and the age they are intended for.
In act 1, scene 3, Laertes and Polonius often make comments about Ophelia suggesting that she is young. Laertes said to her that “Youth to itself rebels, though none else is near,” cautioning her in her ways with Hamlet (44). This line suggests that she is probably in the age range of thirteen to fifteen, so she would be cast accordingly. She would also have to be pretty, but in a very unconventional way. This is because Hamlet asks her if she is both honest and beautiful, mentioning that her honesty should make her beautiful, not the other way around. (3:1). Also, in the same dialogue, he complains that “God hath given you one face, and you make yourself another,” which seems to say that she covers up any inside and outside flaws, the latter being covered with makeup. Finally, her skin would be pale, her hair brown or blonde, much like the girl on the left in this photo. Overall, she is attractive, but her lips are asymmetrical, and her eyes are rather small. It’s very unlikely that anyone would call her ugly, yet it takes a second look to realize that she is pretty. Also, in Shakespeare’s day, it wouldn’t be likely to have a person of any other skin color aside from the palest white living in the castle, and those looks are often typical for people of European descent. Her hair would also be long, as was the style of the time. In the first appearance, her hair would be soft and flowing. During the last few scenes before her death when she had gone mad, her hair would be tangled and knotted. All in all, Ophelia would have to be pretty no matter what scene it was, but not overtly so.
Ophelia would most likely deliver her lines with the faintest lisp. Hamlet yells “you jig, you amble, and you lisp,” (3:1) giving the impression that there may be a minor speech issue going on. Perhaps this is reading too far into the lines, and Hamlet was instead making a statement of how women are not always honest, and therefore “lisp”, but as the director, I would put it into more literal terms. The scene in which Ophelia first appears with her brother shows Ophelia in a light different from which we see her later on. There is clearly a comfort she feels with her brother that she does not feel with anyone else, including her father, and I would want to make that clear. She would deliver her line in a tone that was a mixture of teasing and reverence. Though she seems to poke fun at him, she also takes his advice to heart. Laertes warns her that Hamlet’s love will last for only a minute, to which she replies “No more but so?” which I interpret as teasing. But later when he makes her promise to remember what he said, she would clearly grow more serious, saying “I shall the effect of this good lesson keep/ As a watchmen to my heart.” (1:3). Later on in her famous scene with Hamlet in act 3, scene 1, her tone would be visibly different than it was with Laertes. Her tone would change to confused, yet respectful, and finally to shock. When Hamlet first begins speaking to her, she acts confused about the double meanings he throws at her, yet always stays respectful. Finally when she realizes what is going on, she seems extremely shocked, calling out to the heavens to “restore him”(3:1). Her soliloquy that follows is laced with sadness, while holding onto the shock. Ophelia appears again in act 4, scene 5, again with a completely different attitude. She would be much more free-flowing in her speech, similar to when she was talking to her brother, but more sing-songy. She shushes both the king and queen, telling them they need to listen to her songs, so evidently she is not acting as she would typically. Because of all the different ways of speaking that Ophelia would need to do, an actress who was versatile in her speech and manner would be required for the part.
One of the final and most important aspects in creating the play would be the costumes. In the beginning of the play when Ophelia was right minded, I imagine her wearing a dress with a top similar to this and a skirt like this. I chose these particular pieces for a few reasons, one being that these dresses are inspired by 16th century fashion. This is roughly the time when “Hamlet” was thought to be written. Ophelia would dress nicely because she was the daughter of the king’s closest confident. The style of the neckline was an important factor when I was looking at pictures of dresses because Ophelia was chastised by her father to not be promiscuous and to keep her ways pure. (1:3). I felt that this particular neckline, which was low cut, would not be appropriate for a young girl and would cause her father some worry. As far as the color of the dress goes, the main piece would be an orange brocade while the details and underskirts would be an off white color in a cheaper fabric such as muslin. These two colors have extremely different meanings, which fits Ophelia well because it is never clear whether she is promiscuous or just uninformed. Orange corresponds to desire, sexual passion and pleasure whereas the meaning for white is always one of purity and cleanliness. Since the white of her dress is not completely clean and pure, it shows that she cannot be fully trusted to be innocent. Line 110 in act 3, scene 2 seems to hint that she is not as pure as she may seem to be. Hamlet had asked to lay on her lap, but she initially refuses. When he asks her if she assumed he had meant indecent matters, she responded by saying “I think nothing, my lord.” Nothing, in Shakespeare’s time was actually slang for female privates. This double meaning seems to show that her mind is not as pure as the initial outlook seems to be. The materials used, as stated earlier, would be another sharp contrast. Silk brocade is fairly costly, while muslin is a fabric that easily rips, and costs next to nothing. They contrast the different sides of Ophelia, because she often goes from one extreme to the next.
Ophelia would be a very difficult character to cast because of her multi-faceted personality. The audience would be constantly questioning whether she was who they had thought she was from the beginning. As the director, my job would be to ensure that this was always the case, and that Ophelia would be able to switch from one persona to the next, effortlessly.

Kristen W. said...

If I could portray the play, “Hamlet” by William Shakespeare, I would create it in a cartoon-like manner. Everything that occurs within this play seems surreal and unnatural. The character of Hamlet seems to be a night-in-shining-armor on a mission to rescue the love of his life and revenge his father’s death. Walt Disney seems to portray this entire play in a few of his movies. Although Hamlet is thought to be read as a serious tragedy, I viewed it as a semi-comical, chaotic play. To me, the characters of Queen Gertrude and King Claudius would be best portrayed in the movie, Beauty and the Beast. The Queen is identified as a soft-spoken and beautiful woman, while throughout the play the King’s flaws are seen. Each character plays a specific role and fits perfectly into the movie.

The character of Queen Gertrude would be perfectly displayed as Belle. She is a prime example of an elegant and soft-spoken woman. When described, the Queen is said to be a “virtuous queen” (Act 1:5, line 46). She is always spoken to as if she is at a higher platform than everyone else. The Queen is said to do no wrong, although she did marry her dead husband’s brother than. Everything is said to be the King’s fault. The Queen is whom everyone seems to fall in love with and fight over so I pictured her as a beautiful person. Belle is quite attractive and has all of the soft characteristics that I would use for the Queen Belle is said to be trapped in the house with the Beast, and that is how Gertrude is portrayed within the play. Gertrude is tied down with Claudius and cannot seem to make any choices on her own. Without the help of a prince, she cannot get away from what she thinks is wrong for her. The Queen puts on an act leading the audience to believe she is the most innocent character that there is. The play leaves that open for interpretation. With innocence in mind, Belle seems to be the most suited for the character.

King Claudius, to me, is seen as the Beast in the opposite order. By this, I mean that the transformation from characters is a bit different. In Beauty and the Beast, the Beast transforms from an unloved and ugly beast to a handsome prince that Belle falls in love with. In the play “Hamlet,” it is quite the opposite. The King is able to make Gertrude fall in love with him after killing her husband. Everyone doesn’t se the real King; they just see the act that he puts on. Towards the end of the play the rest of the characters seem to realize the true King and his intentions. He turns from a lovable character to what Belle would call, a beast. Both the King and the Beast go through a transformation around the character that they love. There are two sides to each of the characters and the changes are seen as the play and movie progresses. Also, the physical characteristics of both match one another. The Beast is always viewed as an ugly character, while the King is always referred to as someone who “whor’d” (Act 5:2, line 64) Hamlet’s mother. That to me is viewed as an ugly and evil character. The Beast plays a perfect role when it comes to who should play King Claudius.

After I had chosen my characters, my next step would be choosing what they would be wearing. I think that the clothes that they wear in the movie would fit decently with the play. They wear the old fashioned clothes that I would picture. The one thing that I would change would be the style. I would make the outfits look more sophisticated and expensive. Both of the characters are royalty and should be wearing clothes that are at their rank in society. These are the dresses that I would picture for Gertrude to wear. They are very fancy and up to the status of a Queen. On her head I would picture a crown similar to this. It is very elegant and seems to be very expensive in taste. The Queen seems to be the highest maintenance out of all of the characters. I would definitely picture her wearing nothing but the most expensive things that there is to offer. The King seems that he would be wearing something similar to the queen. He seems to be very aggressive and controlling when it comes to the other characters. I would see him wearing overly bold colors so that he would stand out above the rest. He would be wearing something to this nature. It completely makes him stand out as royalty and has the bold colors that fit his character. Also I would see him wearing a crown as well. King Claudius stands out in my eye and would also want the most up to date and expensive clothing that he can get. With that personality I believe that those outfits would best suite both of the characters.

When I read about both of the characters they seem to be opposites when the deliver their lines. I envisioned the King yelling and bellowing out his lines while I see the Queen speaking in a low and hushed voice. That is why these characters fit them so perfectly. A beast will most definitely fit the loud part that is needed while a sophisticated woman like Belle would fit perfectly into the soft-spoken nature of the Queen. Their tendencies when speaking fit perfectly natural into each other. While the Queen and King have such completely noticeable personalities it is very easy to cast a one dominant and one push-over character to fill the shoes that Shakespeare has left behind.
When envisioning where this would all take place I pictured a large castle with the most elegant furniture around. It would be very spacious for all of the fighting and acting that goes on within the play itself. The outside would be just like Hagwart’s castle. The inside however would be just like this. Everything would be open and spacious leaving much room to walk and move around. The lighting would be dimmed and everything would just be an elegant form. The chandeliers just add to the scene and make it perfect for the time that all of this is occurring in. Within the setting are paintings on the wall and pictures everywhere. That is how I envisioned the scene in which most of the acting took place.

The characters of King Claudius and Queen Gertrude are completely intact with one another. They each must be played by characters that go well together. That is why the characters of Belle and the Beast from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast are perfect for this part. Every aspect of how the character presents itself is crucial to how the play turns out as a whole. As a director I feel that I must have everything complete precise and order to get Shakespeare’s ideas across. In choosing the characters that I did, I feel that I have fit the purpose that I wanted to achieve. Those characters blend naturally with the characters that Shakespeare has presented.

Tzivia H said...

King Claudius, the overt antagonist in Shakespeare’s The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, remains pivotal to the plot in his dealings with Hamlet. Although a nefarious character, much of Claudius’ treachery springs from his dialogue, rather than action. Even his attempt at murdering Hamlet was not accomplished through his own hand; rather, he enlisted the aid of Laertes thus one can conclude that his sinister nature must be much more psychological and subtle and does not require an actor of great physical strength. This fact will become central to my casting of him, as I will focus on an actor who can accomplish subtle malice.

Rather than keeping with the traditional approach to Hamlet- medieval Denmark, I would utilize a modern setting with the traditional dialogue in order to highlight and exaggerate the themes of uncertainty and desire for power, in a context that is more relatable to the audience. Specifically, I would place the characters in the business world, New York’s Wall Street, making Claudius the CEO of a company, Elsinore, following the death of his brother. This sort of “cut-throat” business world aptly parallels and simplifies the violent drive for the monarchy during the medieval era, while further conveying the cold and calculating atmosphere. As a result, my vision of King Claudius would be of an older man, graying, with cold hard-set eyes, his hair slicked back with gel. He would always be clean and well-shaven, wearing finely made gray suits, perhaps Italian, with expensive silk ties. The gray of his suit would hearken to a machine- always cold, always calculating. His impeccable and polished attire, although modern rather than medieval, would still reflect the fact that he is a man of great power and wealth, who wishes to flaunt it. This is reflected in Shakespeare’s own analysis of Claudius’ behavior, who, rather than discretely coming to the throne, ostentatiously paraded it. For example, in Act 3, Scene 2, as the king enters to watch the play it is noted that “Sound a flourish. Danish march. Enter Trumpets and Kettle-drums, KING,…with his GUARD carrying torches,” (3.2). The play which possesses very few stage directions, notes in detail the grand entrance that Claudius makes and it is this sort of lack of subtlety that I’d hope to convey through his attire. Similarly, although a small detail, it is necessary to note that Claudius’ nails would always be clean. Clean nails would suggest that he does not engage in physical labor and cares for his appearance. It is for this reason that I’d employ actor Anthony Hopkins to fill the role, as he is able to convey both the physical and mental requirements. He can appear good-willed and kind, as will be necessary in his dealings with both Queen Gertrude and Ophelia, however, the majority of his acting will hinge on Hopkins’ ability to appear manipulative and deceitful. Hopkins’ experience playing Hannibal Lector in Silence of the Lambs and Red Dragon required him to juxtapose his perfectly dignified air with madness and cannibalism. It is this similar juxtaposition that I hope to convey with Claudius, to the masses he conveys a persona of being both polite and dignified (as required of a man of his station), but still possesses a cold and calculating look in his eye, which foreshadows his sinister actions.

Claudius initially acts out of a dignity expected of his position. His decorum and poise is apparent as he discusses his brother’s death, “Though yet of Hamlet our dear brother’s death/The memory be green, and that it us befitted/To bear our hearts in grief, and our whole kingdom/To be contracted in one brow of woe,” (1.2 1-4). Hopkins would be required to utilize a measured tone, one of great conviction and confidence as he delivered the lines. Thus, Hopkins would create an early persona of Claudius that makes him appear an apt ruler, noting a shift in his manner of acting as Claudius becomes more openly shrewd.
My vision of Claudius would center predominantly around his desire to assert his power once he gained it, however. This motif manifests itself throughout the play frequently, both in Claudius’ ostentatious displays, his plots to kill Hamlet (who threatened his power), his fears of losing popular support, and the theory surrounding the affair with Ophelia. Nevertheless, Claudius’ power-mongering is always latent and thus Hopkins would be required to simultaneously convey concern and good-will, while still subtly suggesting his calculating characteristics. For example, in Act 4, Scene 5, Claudius discusses with Gertrude Polonius’ premature death and its effect on Ophelia. Initially appearing concerned, he woefully expresses to Gertrude, “O Gertrude, Gertrude/ When sorrows come, they come not single spies,/ But in battalions..” (4.5 76-78). However, Claudius later reveals the true motives of his distress, Laertes; “Her brother is in secret come from France,/…And wants not buzzers to infect his ear/With pestilent speeches of his father’s death,/ Will nothing stick our person to arraign/In ear and ear, (4.5 87-92). Rather than expressing concern for Ophelia who lost her father, Claudius frets over Laertes and his potential for blaming Claudius for the death. Thus, Hopkins’ initial lines will need to be delivered in an exaggerated and frankly, overdramatic way, especially as he says, “O Gertrude, Gertrude,” while, the lines that begin with “last” in line 86 must be delivered quieter, faster, their speed spurred onward by true fear. Hopkins’ delivery of the initial lines (Gertrude, Gertrude) must differ exceedingly from his delivery of the following lines, when he is truly distressed. Thus, the audience notes a contrast between his concern for others and his concern for himself (specifically his power), where the concern for his power is of greater importance than his concern for others.

Hopkins will later have to assert this sort of manipulative quality in his dealings with Laertes in Act 4, Scene 7. Claudius questions Laertes’ love of his father Polonius, in order to coerce him to act upon it and kill Hamlet. It is necessary that Hopkins again exaggerates his concern, acting especially saccharine as he delivers the lines, “Laertes, was your father dear to you?/ Or are you like a painting of a sorrow,/A face without a heart?” (4.7 108-110). Hopkins will be required to prey on his vulnerability, perhaps patting Laertes on the back as he says “Laertes” and speaking softly, infusing it with a false care for Laertes. Thus, Claudius is able to bend Laertes to his will, persuading him to murder Hamlet.

Ultimately however, Claudius’ control-complex, in which he frequently manipulates and manages those around him, is evidence enough to attest to his affair with Ophelia. As a man who murdered his brother in order to gain the crown (which in my version would be a business) and then pressured Laertes into murdering Hamlet, Claudius is a man who contents himself by asserting his power. As a younger girl, it would have been extremely easy for Claudius to prey upon Ophelia, using their sexual relationship as yet another element that Claudius could control and seek gratitude from. By Act 4, Scene 5 as Ophelia herself succumbs to madness at the loss of her father and Hamlet, she speaks candidly about a sexual relationship. It is unclear if she is infusing her own personal experiences into the song, and if so, concerning who, but it is apparent that Claudius’ response to her, “pretty lady” (4.5 41) and “Pretty Ophelia!” (4.5 55) note an almost inappropriate fixation to her appearance, especially given the subject matter of her song. Based on this evidence and Claudius’ compulsion for power, my version would include an overt relationship between Ophelia and Claudius.

Matt Z! said...

In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, one of the most mysterious and layered characters in the entire play is that of Hamlet’s mother, Queen Gertrude. The Queen is gradually exposed over the course of the play to be a more and more evil character, as her incestuous and deceptive nature gradually begins to shine forth. I would plan to direct the play in movie form, in order to account for certain “special effects” such as flashbacks and multiple, changing points of view in order to portray her as the dark and brooding character that I interpreted her to be.

As I explored my memory for actresses that would best fit the role of Gertrude in my rendition of Hamlet, a single actress stood out among all others. I knew that in order to be the perfect match for the role, an actress would need to be able to satisfy a lot of different roles and display many different sides to the same person. For example, Queen Gertrude is portrayed in various parts of Hamlet as vulnerable, weak-willed, feminine, and seductive. She also is portrayed as strong, defiant, and is even portrayed at times to have a cunning and evil side. For this reason, I would need to hire an actress who’s face could easily assume all of these different roles perfectly. I would need someone with strong facial features, whose countenance could simultaneously appear to be both beautiful and feminine, as well as strong and cunning. I immediately resolved that Cate Blanchett would perfectly fill this role, as her face perfectly assumes many of these roles throughout the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age.

For a costume, I would portray Queen Gertrude to have exceedingly regal and exquisite attire. The extremely flashy attire worn by the Queen would mirror her innate drive and addiction to power. These clothes, in addition to being ornate and beautiful, would also be quite revealing in my rendition of Hamlet. This would also attest to the Queen’s incestuous and sexually-charged character who runs to the “loving arms” of her murdered husband’s brother. A perfect example of such attire can be seen here, worn by Cate Blanchett herself on the set of the movie Elizabeth: The Golden Age. The dress she is wearing is regal, elegant, flashy, and also slightly revealing in comparison to the standard of attire of that age. As for the colors of her attire, I believe it would be the most interesting if the Queen were to wear clothing that was primarily red, brown, or black. This would be to symbolize through the use of color her darker passions, and her ability to cloud and muddy the truth. The color red, especially, may easily represent lust, passion, anger, and spilled blood- all things that would easily be associated with the Queen.

When delivering her lines, I would direct Cate Blanchett to not only administer the lines exactly as they are written in the play, but to have a sly, sensual, even seductive tone with them whenever possible. This would hint at the obvious and pronounced physical relationship between her and King Claudius, and the evil, incestuous nature of said relationship. When speaking to King Claudius, in particular, I would have her employ the use of this tempting and suggestive tone frequently in order to portray her as a sexually-charged and controlling woman. This tone’s secondary effect would cause the audience to more greatly sympathize with Hamlet, especially in Act 3, Scene 4 when he finally confronts the Queen about her incestuous and despicable behavior. If, up until this point in the play, Queen Gertrude had been consistently portrayed as a strong, controlling, and powerful woman, the audience would clearly interpret her cries of “O, speak to me no more! / These words like daggers enter in my ears.” (Act3:4, lines 94-95) as feigning weakness and helplessness. This would not be registered as a façade however in the ears of Polonious, who remains hidden behind a curtain. To an outside observer such as himself, this violent interaction between Hamlet and Queen Gertrude would appear as if Hamlet is properly insane, and verbally attacking the “helpless” Queen. To the audience, however, this would set up situational irony because observers, having extensive knowledge of the Queen’s personality and behavior up until this point, would know that this is a façade in order to facilitate sympathy. This would build on the Queen’s reputation for being a liar, a cheat, and a powerful antagonist of the play. The Queen’s strong and cunning personality would again come into play later on during this same scene when Hamlet begins to interact with the spirit of his murdered father. When the queen claims to not see the spirit, speaking the lines “[I see] nothing at all, yet all that is I see,” (Act3:4, line 133) we are expected to believe that she is deceiving Hamlet.

The second major scene in the play where Queen Gertrude’s dark side is displayed is when she bluntly throws upon Laertes the news of his sister’s death. Here, the stern face of Cate Blanchett would be ideal in showing the lack of sympathy obviously present in the written play. During this scene in particular, I would cast Queen Gertrude as wearing a primarily black dress, with red accents. I would identify this part in the play as being the pinnacle of the Queen’s evil action, and this would be reflected in her attire. The red accents on the black dress- perhaps long, flowing designs or ribbons of fabric down her sides or arms – would serve to symbolize blood flowing over her. This is because in this scene I would like to accentuate the theory that the Queen murdered Ophelia. This is based mostly on the fact that the Queen recounts such a detailed account of Ophelia’s drowning to Laertes, that it would mean that she either observed the drowning take place and neglected to help Ophelia, or the Queen murdered Ophelia herself and then passed the death off as an accidental suicide. As the queen spoke the lines, “When down her weedy trophies and herself / fell in the weeping brook… Till that her garments, heavy with their drink, / Pull’d the poor wretch from her melodious lay / To muddy death,” (Act5:1, lines 174 – 183) the movie would flash back to a dramatic scene where the queen herself is shown forcibly holding Ophelia underwater until she drowned, with a
murderous glare in her eye
. The juxtaposition between what the queen is describing in her speech to Laertes and what is being recounted in her flashback would further develop her character as an evil, deceptive, and power-hungry woman.

In my rendition of Hamelt, these qualities bestowed upon Queen Gertrude would not only develop her own character greatly, but they would help to develop the characters of those around her. Her deceptive nature would lend credibility to Hamlet’s visions of his deceased father, and her suggestive character would further back up Hamlet’s accusations of her being incestuous. Through her evil nature, she would inadvertently help gain the audience’s sympathy for Hamlet. She would also perfectly match the evil and dark nature of her husband, King Claudius, because in my version she would be blatantly exposed as a murderer. By doing this she and King Claudius would be further shown to be kindred spirits, joined by their evil inclinations, as the King also had murdered someone in the past.

Mels1619 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mels1619 said...

The play “The Tragedy of Prince Hamlet” by Shakespeare includes a variety of complex characters. The plot of this play helps the characters develop a lunatic and compulsive personality which makes this play so engaging. Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius and the woman Hamlet is “madly” in love for, is an example of a complex character. Her personality is confusing; she creates this innocent appearance but has a hidden dark side.

As the director of the play, I choose to compare Ophelia with the Hispanic legend La Llorona because they both display innocence in their disturbing life. In my version of the play, I will use one of the theories mentioned before: Ophelia having an affair with King Claudius making it impossible to have a real relationship with Hamlet, and at the end, Ophelia realizes that Claudius will never be with her and drowns herself. In my version, I want to portray the same exact thing. There are not many changes I would like to make since I like the way Shakespeare leaves it up to the reader’s perspective to see each character as they would like. My version contains minor changes. La llorona is remembered as a lonely soul wondering around for the tragedy that happened in her life: the death of her children (whom she murdered). Ophelia, as well, wonders around with many hidden emotions. Both of these characters develop an outstanding and interesting persona; portraying innocence with their white fluffy outfits, using their crying and singing as a way to pretend they are the victims, and using their simple beauty to captivate those around them.

When reading Hamlet, Ophelia’s character appears to be a young lady with manners and well-educated: “I shall obey, my lord” (1:3:136). She listens to her father and tries to maintain a certain posture. Her obedience reflects innocence, making the reader compare her to an angel, who wears mostly white, fluffy dresses, giving her space to move more freely. My purpose to portray Ophelia as a white-looking angel is to demonstrate evilness. Those around her believe she would not do any harm but as the play continues, hidden messages appear through out her personality and her actions. This evilness and innocence compares to the image of La Llorona. Her white dress with various layers are used to hide her dark side and the sins she committed.

Beauty is another major factor that covers up Ophelia’s mysterious side. The reader gets a hint that Ophelia must be a beautiful woman in order for Hamlet to be so crazy for her: “To the celestial and my soul’s idol, the most beautified/ Ophelia” (2:2:109-110) as Hamlet states in one of the letters he sent to Ophelia. Throughout time, women, beautiful women to be more specific, have always had the choice to manipulate men with their beauty. And this case is not an exception. The real purpose for Ophelia to manipulate Hamlet is not yet certain, there are many theories that the readers can obtain, but one thing is for sure, Ophelia is not the person she seems to be. The innocence her beauty displays causes others to trust her.

A good manipulate technique used by both La llorona and Ophelia are their crying and their singing. La Llorona cries for her children, the ones she killed her self. She wonders around at night asking “where her children are?” begging for the return of her children. By her crying, it makes those who hear her feel sympathetic for her tragedy. As for Ophelia, after finding out about her father’s death, she instantly changed from being a calm woman into a crazy neurotic woman. “He is dead and gone, lady, / He is dead and gone, / At his head a grass-green turf, / At his heels a stone” (4:5:29-32). Ophelia begins to say or sing irrational things that cause others believe she is gone crazy. In my version of the play, Ophelia is using her father’s death as an escape to get closer to the King and have a legitimate excuse to stay away from Hamlet. Her crying makes her brother Laertes wanting to take revenge on Hamlet for his father’s death and his sister’s craziness. If we continue to follow my idea of the King and Ophelia’s affair, this is quite important to continue with their hidden relationship. Ophelia wants to get rid off as many people around them in order for her affair to one day become a public and official relationship.

To prove more my point of King Claudius and Ophelia’s affair, another song sang by Ophelia demonstrates their secret; “Quoth she, ‘Before you tumbled me, / You promis’d me to wed” (4:3:62-63) and Claudius responds “So would I ‘a’ done, by yonder sun, / And thou hadst not come to my bed” (4:3:64-65). With this duet, it is clear that something must have happened between them two. But now Claudius is somehow telling Ophelia that she is nothing more than just a one night accident. Keeping this in mind, Ophelia’s reaction is not surprising, having her heartbroken and feeling completely betrayed, Ophelia took the choice to commit suicide: “Your sister’s drown’d, Laertes” (4:7:164). The time for Ophelia’s death could have not been better for Claudius. She was a threat to his throne, and the purpose of her death was explained by the lost of her father.

Following with La Llorona’s plot, the similar incident occurred to Ophelia. La Llorona decided to end with her children lives right after they were born because the father of her children left her after he found out she was pregnant. This caused her to kill her babies and then drowned her self. As for Ophelia, her heart was devastated and could not handle the thought of being betrayed by the man who she was willing to leave everything behind.

The period of time of the play will most likely be the 21st century. I would like to see the play be act by the young generation since this century is causing an immense controversy in history. My version consists of taking part of the legend of La Llorona and continues with Shakespeare style of delivering the lines. My version contains a lot of drama and love triangles. It relates to the daily routines most people live now days. Young beautiful women falling into the arms of old married men, who at the end will leave them after obtaining what they wanted.

In overall, as a Director, I only changed the plot of the play. I took the lines Shakespeare used but made it my own with a different message: what goes around comes around. Instead of Hamlet being the main character, I focused more on Ophelia and her innocence covering her dark side. Ophelia played with Hamlet’s feelings and betrayed the trust of those around her, mainly the Queen’s, Gertrude. And for this, she paid with her life. The white fluffy outfit symbolizes virginity and innocence which is the opposite of what Ophelia really is but makes the play interesting. Her beauty is the factor that manipulates men and makes them fall in love. Beauty is her key to obtain what she wants. And last but not least, her singing revealed the truth of her emotions and the tragedy that was about to occurred: suicide.

Pretty Lady said...

Why did you choose to cast Gertrude? What set her apart?
As a director, the beauty of casting any Shakespearean character is that they can be interpreted in numerous ways. And having the privileged of co-directing the play Hamlet, I chose to concentrate specifically on one of the least mentioned characters of the play: Queen Gertrude--being one of the two female characters, she clearly plays an incredibly important role. Because she is never seen alone throughout the entire play--she is always in the company of men--I saw Gertrude as an astonishingly beautiful woman, who uses her body to get what she wants. Having this masterpiece of a human, we would only except her one flaw to be a big one--beauty is only skin deep, of course. And Gertrude proves this theory correct, because her biggest, and only, flaw is that she is heartless. Insensitive to the death of her husband, agreeing to send her son away, indifference towards Ophelia's "suicide", and her calmness amidst all the troubles throughout the play infer to her heartlessness. Hamlet and Ophelia are believed to be the crazy characters in the play, but despite this, I conclude that Gertrude is the real crazy one. Her actions condemn her to be a psychotic murderer, who, beyond that, is deprived of love and stability. Gertrude's character's true motives are never really exposed to the other characters in the play, because the other sane characters--all men--probably assume that it is "a woman thing". Which leaves the other characters in the play to know Gertrude only as an innocent, respected queen. Little do they know that the humble and naive Queen Gertrude is a clever strategist.

The ghost of Hamlet is the first and only character to fully support this belief that Gertrude is promiscuous. In Act 1 scene 5 the ghost informs Hamlet that his mother is a "seeming-virtuous queen" (46). By using the word "seeming" the ghost implies that she is secretly not a virtuous queen, but partakes in sinful acts, against the king himself and their family. Gertrude herself also alludes to the fact that she has a bad reputation when she sobs to Hamlet that he is making her "turn'st [her] eyes into [her] very soul, and there see such black and grained spots as will not leave their tinct" (Act 3.4 90-93). Gertrude knows that her past holds events that have scarred her family, have brought embarrassment, and contributed to the downfall of the kingdom.

One of the most interesting lines Gertrude speaks in Hamlet is directed towards Ophelia: "And for your part, Ophelia, I do wish that your good beauties be the happy cause of Hamlet's wildness. So shall I hope your virtues will bring him to his wonted way again, to both your honors" (act 3.1 40-43). Here Gertrude acknowledges that another woman has more influence over her son than she does; she realizes that her son's affection is being wasted entirely on Ophelia. And being the concerned mother that she is, Gertrude's jealously is fueled. Throughout the play the audience knows that she attempts to be the best mother she possible can for Hamlet, but he, on the other hand, rejects and is disgusted by her. Hamlet is embarrassed of his mother, to the point where he disowns her saying that he wishes she was not his mother. This feeling of rejection by her own son causes Gertrude's sanity to vanish. After she learns that Ophelia controls her son more than she does, a desire to rescue her son from her clutches goes wrong.

Towards the end of the play, Gertrude fills in Laertes about the death of his sister: "Your sister's drowned, Laertes" (Act 4.7 159-160) are her exact heartless words. Not only are her words cold, but her first and last soliloquy in the play is her description of Ophelia's death--every detail included. Being the director, I saw this as an inference to Gertrude being the one who actually drowned Ophelia. Not only was she there, but she planned every step of the murder. Jealousy pushed Gertrue into a psychotic murderous state, but in the end she still didn't have her son's love.

Who can Gertrude be compared to in real life?
In real life, beyond the fact that Gertrude can be compared to a murderer, she is very much like the characters Julia Roberts portrays in her movies. It is safe to say that in all of Roberts' movies, she is surrounded by men--either she is working for them, chasing them, sleeping with them, or pushing them away. This Queen of Denmark, similar to the Queen of acting, looks innocent, with a clean complex, brilliantly shining eyes, big hair, and nice assets. A set of pretty eyes fascinates the men in Gertrude's life; an innocent look keeps her clear of being a suspect to anything; the big hair allows the audience to see her as a free-spirit; and the nice assets distracts the men of the true conniving nature of Gertrude. A young looking face with a toned body is important to portray Gertrude, because she has already seduced both late Hamlet and his brother, Claudius--meaning, of course, that she is excellent at manipulating men with her body. In a modernized version of Hamlet, Gertrude wears little clothing due to the fact that her body is what controls the men and gets her what she wants; her clothing style is considered skimpy, but she is the queen, and therefore she is granted rights that women are not. Gertrude can get away with showing her breasts, as Roberts does at work in Erin Brockovich, or maintain a cool, collected persona though she is secretly plotting revenge on the other female in the play (Ophelia) as Roberts does in My Best Friend's Wedding, or even pull off a promiscuous look, like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. Point is that Gertrude only appears to be sweet and innocent. In reality she is a sly, corrupt being--who will go to the end to see her desires reached.

Although Gertrude is seen as heartless, all through the play she does show concern for her son Hamlet--be it a true or pretend concern--just as Roberts in her movies. Of the many roles Gertrude plays in Hamlet (mother, wife, friend) her motherly role is the most important. Her profound love and care for her son, though un-returned, can be seen. The first and last lines Gertrude speaks in the play are directed towards her son--the first is of her insisting that Hamlet not mourn his father as much as he is, and the last is of her telling her son she poisoned herself to give him more time to live. Because her concern for her son is obvious, as a director I wanted to portray that it was not the only characteristic she showed; Gertrude was quick to go against her son in Act 4, agreeing with King Claudius to send him away. Overall, Gertrude may dress like a strumpet, but she still has her motherly instincts. I cast Gertrude as Julia Roberts' characters, simply because they both have an edge, are influenced by the men in their lives, and even though they use their bodies to manipulate men, they are controlled by their own children.

Why did you choose to portray Gertrude in a modern time period?
One of the first decisions made about casting the characters was whether to have the play done in the Shakespearean era or a more modernized era. Between me and my co-director, I rooted for the modern era (and won), for the reason that the Hamlet character resemble people of today. If the audience gets stuck in a box believing that Shakespeare plays are not meant for today's world, we have accomplished nothing. The important thing to understand is that by using modernization the play's symbolic language and way of speaking is not lost, but given a new deminson. The modernization of the play allows the audeince to better relate to the characters and have a clear understanding of Shakespeare's messages.

Any concluding thoughts?
Casting Gertrude was a difficult task. Some see her as a motherly woman, innocent and loving, while others believe that she is controlling and evil. Because of her emotionless comments and the ghost's remark of the queen "seeming" to be righteous, one could infer that Gertrude had an intact wild side. In the end however, Gertrude true self is never exposed; her punishment is much worse than embarrasment. Shakespeare punished this woman by throwing her in hell.

emily said...

If I decided I was going to reinvent Shakespeare's "Hamlet" I would do just that; completely reinvent it. I'd move the whole production to the Bronx during the mid-1980s. The “castle” is a cramped, substandard apartment complex in a poverty stricken neighborhood.

Clearly, Lil Wayne would play Hamlet. (For reasons including but not limited to the fact that he is my idol and quite possibly my soulmate, and it's 5:30 in the morning.) A remarkably (if not surprisingly) intelligent man, Wayne is often witty and funny in interviews; he's also incredibly versatile, and grew up in an environment much like the one I'm going to place him in as Hamlet. His personal life mirrors a lot of the qualities I would incorporate into my rendition of Hamlet's character.
The son of a local liquor store owner, also named Hamlet, and an unemployed mother, Gertrude, Hamlet's home life had always been in turmoil; his parents fought constantly, and he suffered from bipolar disorder that was untreatable due to lack of health insurance. When his father was murdered in a hold-up, his mother quickly turned to prostitution to support herself and her son. Although the hold-up was made to look like it was done by a single robber, rumors spread like wildfire that a local gang had organized the crime. Hamlet's uncle Claudius, who had always been very friendly with Gertrude, took over the liquor store after his brother's death, and began to use the store as a headquarters for his drug business. Hamlet soon found out that Claudius was operating his large scale drug deals with the help of the gang that was suspected of killing Hamlet's father, and realized that the network was so large and so deep that it couldn't have been formed in the short time after Hamlet Sr.'s death; Claudius must have arranged to have his brother killed, most likely because he knew he would be the new proprietor of the liquor store. It was only a matter of time before Gertrude and Claudius approached Hamlet to tell him that they were going to move in together. Hamlet wouldn't have been surprised if their affair had started long before his father died. Hamlet begins using marijuana heavily as a result, and in his drug induced stupor believes he communicates with his father's ghost.
Hamlet's girlfriend Ophelia grew up without a mother, so she was raised by a her father and an older brother Laertes, now a mechanic; as a result, she is severely sheltered and naive-she has few friends and Hamlet is her first boyfriend. Her innocence is one of the things Hamlet likes most about her-she is very unlike the girls he usually sees. She wears skirts and dresses and doesn't spray her hair into place; unlike Hamlet, she performs well in school and has a chance to go to college if her family can find a way to afford it.
Horatio grew up in the apartment next to Hamlet, and they've been best friends virtually since they were born. They met Rosencrantz and Guildenstern years ago on the local basketball court, but never became quite so close to them.
Hamlet will retain Lil Wayne's tattoos and dreadlocks. He will be dressed in a fashion typical of urban teenagers (Hamlet would be, in my rendition, about 17) in the 80s; tapered, acid washed jeans, basketball sneakers, short sleeved button up shirts, and tiny sunglasses. However, most of his clothing will be cheaply made and worse for the wear, as his family can't afford anything better.
The soundtrack, naturally, would feature solely old school hip hop. (If I were more well-versed in this genre I'm sure I could find specific songs to fit the play.) The language would stay the same; I wouldn't adapt Shakespeare's writing at all. Not only do I think this is important in preserving the themes and nuances Shakespeare intended, but would provide and interesting juxtaposition with the characters and the set.

There are a number of reasons why I would run the play like this. For one, I
aimed to reinforce the idea of the Oedipus complex that is seen throughout the play; Hamlet is clearly incredibly uncomfortable with his mother's sexuality. I casted Hamlet as the son of a prostitute to, in effect, emphasize this. Not only would my Hamlet have to deal with his mother becoming involved with his uncle, but also with countless, faceless other men.
For the same reasons, I created an exaggerated version of an unfortunate life for Hamlet, to give him something to complain so much about.
I thought that Hamlet should probably be a victim of bipolar disorder to explain his erratic behavior and irrationality. For example, in Act 3 Scene 1, on lines 120-121, Hamlet explodes at his love Ophelia, yelling at her to "get thee to a nunn'ry/ why wouldst thou be a breeder of sinners?" for reasons that are not immediately apparent to the reader. He demonstrates sudden manic tendencies throughout the play. Also, his behavior is questionable in Act 3 Scene 4, when Hamlet kills the man hiding behind the tapestry, whom he only discovers is Polonious after the fact. (I think Gertrude probably puts it best here-"what a rash and bloody deed is this!") (Act 4, Scene 3, line 27)
Having Hamlet struggle with a drug problem not only explains his visions of his father, but contributes to some of his more philosophical moments. For example, the world famous "To be or not to be" (Act 3 Scene 1 line 55) passage is easily explained through drug use; not only should it be delivered slowly and pensively, an effect that marijuana has on users' speech, but the subject matter is also relatable to drug users. The idea of not caring if you live or die, and not knowing which is worse, fits neatly into the concept of drug addiction. (If you don't believe me, ask "Hamlet" himself-Lil' Wayne's song "I Feel Like Dying" was written about using marijuana.)
Also, I believe that Lil' Wayne's voice is very appropriate for the role; he speaks in a deep, slow voice, that would be appropriate for the majority of Hamlet's lines. However, when Hamlet has his manic outbursts, Lil' Wayne would have to speed up his speech-which probably wouldn't be a problem, I assume, from listening to some of his music. The raspy, gravelly quality to his voice would be symbolic of a young man who has seen a tremendous amount of hardship.
Lil’ Wayne easily takes on the role of tragic hero in Hamlet; although he is the protagonist in the story and is often easy to sympathize with, he has vices (in my rendition, drug addiction) and a troubled home life. Given my plot line, the tragic ending would easily play itself out in the form of bitter gang violence.