Hamlet NT Live

http://ntlive.nationaltheatre.org.uk/productions/ntlout10-hamlet

Filmed live, on stage, from the Barbican, London

Go see it.  It’s an unsurpassed theatrical experience, which you get to see (for a lot less than stage tickets) at the cinema.

There’s probably an encore performance at a big-city art cinema near almost everyone who is reading this – it will be in a dozen countries, a few hundred cities and university towns. Each venue shows no more than twice, and the site listed will give you the dates and locations nearest you.

It’s worth driving more than an hour to get to, and absolutely worth the price of admission.  Yeah, I know I’m crazy; I saw it live today, and I’m going to see it at least four times at a couple different theaters.

 

This has been a “public service announcement” — I know, not our typical subject of discussion, sorry.  Enjoy it while you can!

14 thoughts on “Hamlet NT Live

  1. The little map on their web site showed that it is in two art cinemas in Seattle, one in Tacoma, one in Port Townsend, one on Vashon Island, and one in Leavenworth, Washington. But I am not sure we’ll go see it — I think we already know how it turns out.

  2. As much as I like performing arts, the old style broadway musical (like Lehrner and Lowe’s Camelot) were more to my taste. I suppose that’s because I struggled with language arts and could relate to music and visual drama more readily.

    That said, here is the kind of Shakespeare more suited to me:

    William Shakespeare’s Star Wars

    HAN: Pray tell, what shall the cargo be?

    OBI-WAN: -Myself
    The boy, two droids, and ne’re a question ask’d.

    HAN ‘Tis what, a touch of local trouble here?

    OBI-WAN Nay, let us simply say it thus: we would
    Imperial entanglements avoid

    HAN Aye, there’s the rub, so shalt though further pay.
    Ten thousand is the cost, and ev’ry bit
    Shalt though deliver ere we leave the dock.

    LUKE Ten thousand? Fie! We could our own ship buy
    For such a sum as this.

    HAN -A goodly jest!
    For who should pilot such a ship — shouldst thou?

    LUKE Thou knave, I could indeed!. . .

  3. Joe Felsenstein:
    The little map on their web site showed that it is in two art cinemas in Seattle, one in Tacoma, one in Port Townsend, one on Vashon Island, and one in Leavenworth, Washington.But I am not sure we’ll go see it — I think we already know how it turns out.

    To see, or not to see? That is the question.

  4. petrushka:
    Nearest showingis a three hour drive. Maybe when it becomes available on streaming.

    Sorry, darlin’. Can’t help ya there.

    NT Live productions are never released to the world — they endorse the theater experience specifically: the shared audience, the sense of “event” involved in going to the show, the special time frame.

    Well, that’s not the whole truth; UK schools can can get streamed teaching versions of Hamlet NT Live; imagine a classroom full of teenagers watching on their ipads. Not exactly a theater experience. And not helpful to either of us if we wish to watch at home.

    Only, having seen it “live”, I’m not sure I’d be happy with watching it on the small screen anyways. It’s definitely meant to be as large as life.

  5. I’ve seen a number of Met performances “live” in movie theaters, but they also offer streaming performances.

    Don’t know about the audience, though. My wife and I watched Tristan — all five hours of it, and at the end we were the only ones left in the audience.

    That particular production had some interesting glitches. My daughter saw this one in person.
    http://blog.oregonlive.com/classicalmusic/2008/03/the_mets_cursed_tristan.html

    A few decades ago PBS broadcast the Ring cycle live from the Met. During the performance a bit of bric-a-brac came loose and fell on Brunhilde. Some years later met and had dinner with the stage manager, the guy who had to apologize to the audience.

    Live theater has surprises that you miss when it’s recorded.

  6. When we lived in the UK, my sister-in-law worked for the RSC (she still does) and she often passed on tickets to performances that were not sold out. I got to see a lot of stuff I doubt I would have paid for and I really miss not being able to see live theatre in English (apart from the ex-pat panto!).

    I see the Hamlet performance is being shown in France, amazingly, but the nearest to me in Nice is a ten hour round-trip

  7. The burning question I had since high school and one which was assigned to all the students in my English class back then, “why did Hamlet delay killing his uncle?”

    I didn’t want to cheat and just google an answer. The most creative explanation I encountered by accident was something about an Oedipus complex. I never pursued the answer after that class, but now that the topic has arisen, I’d be curious to hear what anyone think.

    The English teacher forbade us to say, “well,, that was so Shakespeare could stretch out the drama.” That was my explanation, but I couldn’t say it.

    The teacher, after the conclusion of the assignment refused to give his explanation. There were a few other things he said in class that ran against my common sense. It left a lastingly bad impression about literature that took many years for me to have an attitude change.

  8. One thing I love about this plot is that Hamlet sees Claudius kneeling to pray (or attempting to pray) for redemption of his sin of killing the king, Hamlet’s father. Claudius reveals – to the audience – that he cannot be forgiven because he intends to retain his ill-gotten gains of marriage to Gertrude and of course the kingship which he has usurped from Hamlet. Claudius tells himself to repent but he can’t soften his own heart. Hamlet doesn’t hear any of that; only sees him in the apparent act of prayer, and refuses to kill Claudius at that moment because, soul cleansed in prayer, he could go to heaven. Hamlet says that he will hold back until he can catch Claudius in a moment of sin so that his soul, unclean, will be bound for hell.

    This happens quite far into the timeline of the play, but I recollect it’s the first time Hamlet sees Claudius after he has gotten convincing evidence of Claudius’ guilt in the murder (evidence from Claudius’ reaction to the play-within-a-play). Before that, Hamlet could not take action against Claudius based only upon the word of the ghost.

    It’s an amazing bit of writing. In one short scene, I think we have the whole thing, the whole human story, illuminated.

    And brilliantly acted by Ciarán Hinds and Benedict Cumberbatch.

  9. hotshoe_:
    One thing I love about this plot is that Hamlet sees Claudius kneeling to pray (or attempting to pray) for redemption of his sin of killing the king, Hamlet’s father.Claudius reveals – to the audience – that he cannot be forgiven because he intends to retain his ill-gotten gains of marriage to Gertrude and of course the kingship which he has usurped from Hamlet.Claudius tells himself to repent but he can’t soften his own heart.Hamlet doesn’t hear any of that; only sees him in the apparent act of prayer, and refuses to kill Claudius at that moment because, soul cleansed in prayer, he could go to heaven.Hamlet says that he will hold back until he can catch Claudius in a moment of sin so that his soul, unclean, will be bound for hell.

    This happens quite far into the timeline of the play, but I recollect it’s the first time Hamlet sees Claudius after he has gotten convincing evidence of Claudius’ guilt in the murder (evidence from Claudius’ reaction to the play-within-a-play).Before that, Hamlet could not take action against Claudius based only upon the word of the ghost.

    It’s an amazing bit of writing.In one short scene, I think we have the whole thing, the whole human story, illuminated.

    And brilliantly acted by Ciarán Hinds and Benedict Cumberbatch.

    WOW!!!!!!

    Wish I had you as my English teacher. I suppose I had such permanent resentment from that experience in High School English (the teacher called my parents to a conference since he wanted to flunk me). I have learning disabilities related to reading coupled with slight dyslexia and some other language processing issues.

    What you say makes more sense than I could have imagined. Because of my disabilities (which have been greatly remediated) It was hard enough just reading not to mention, the English of Shakespeare was difficult for me to understand and was so intimidating. Being in an international city like the suburbs of Washington DC in the USA, lots of kids in the school could barely speak English. I felt so sorry what was being forced on them when they weren’t adequately counseled and placed in the appropriate classes.

    Thanks for renewing my appreciation for this play. There is no question Shakespeare has had a lasting influence on language and thought, something which I could not really understand.

    Thanks!

  10. Having seen Hamlet twice this week, I have a new appreciation for seeing it “live” instead of reading it. Reading it has some advantages: I can slow down to the point where I understand individual lines, look up unfamiliar words … but now I think that reading actually causes me to lose sight of the full scope of the play. I think that being swept up in the acting/action gives me a better sense of the overall message, even though I miss some words or sentences in the moment.

    The NT Live process really helps.

    You definitely miss some words as they fly by. And there’s a surprising amount of stage business: people appear on stage just to move the scenery/props, maybe a bit distracting in ways that either reading, or seeing a movie (where all the prop moving is hidden from the camera) is not. But the compensation is huge: the actors are performing the meaning of the play with the intent to communicate it to the audience in the back rows. It’s not literally larger than life, but acting magnifies more than ordinary life. Then the camera advantages us: while the actor is performing for their live audience sitting in front of them in the actual theater, we get the benefit of some close zooms on key speeches so we can see every flicker of expression, frown lines, tears (and, oh my god, snotty tears when Gertrude cries while Hamlet confronts her for marrying Claudius).

    I found it absolutely revelatory to see and hear the To be or not to be thoughts, past the first four or five lines, spoken by Benedict. All of a sudden it made sense. The body language, the expressions, the tones of voice, push comprehension even though there are a few words I don’t know the exact meaning of. (Fardels. Ugh.)

    I think Hamlet is graspable by most students but I bet the way it’s usually taught, as a dead printed thing to “study” doesn’t help at all. Too bad it’s taken me decades to realize it’s meant to be a “live” thing.

  11. the camera advantages us: while the actor is performing for their live audience sitting in front of them in the actual theater, we get the benefit of some close zooms on key speeches so we can see every flicker of expression, frown lines, tears (and, oh my god, snotty tears when Gertrude cries while Hamlet confronts her for marrying Claudius).

    Oh my science!

    Speaking of cameras, I just realized my favorite Shakespeare work was best realized in the context of modern cinema with props and dramatic music. It was so well done as a movie I forgot it was an actually play by Shakespeare!

    Henry the V

    Some memorable scenes that were definitely enhanced with modern interpretation:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s1Ulz-Qwnx8&feature=player_embedded

    The choral work of Non Nobis and Te Deum has a life of it’s own in this Shakespeare play! Put tears in my eye when Henry laid to rest the young lad killed in battle.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hPXXuEel0fU

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