The second thing that hit me was the very real difference between reading Shakespeare’s lines (as a reader of poetic form) and that of watching Shakespeare’s play unfolding with some plausibility. Some forms of Shakespeare deliver the performance with minimal set, costumes, etc., but with emphasis on the deliberate delivery of lines that have entered into our conscious use of the language. Other deliveries of Shakespeare want to make the performance so lifelike that phrases of lines may be swallowed up in the moment of emotional delivery. Two very different forms of performance and very different audience experiences.
I’ve been reading Hamlet over the past three or four days and I have found that one loses that as a solitary reader, moving slowly, reading all the words in one’s head, playing all the characters, but listening for the sound of the poetry rather than actually playing the part. I have been *reading* the play, but that’s not the same way of experiencing Shakespeare as watching Derek Jacobi, Kenneth Branagh or David Tennant play the title role. My print edition of Hamlet (Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Prince of Denmark ) has illustrations by John Austen, dating back to 1922. Very reminiscent of Aubrey Beardsley, which is yet another disconnect of sorts. Austen’s interpretation of Hamlet is not at all like the film versions I’ve seen of this play.
I have on The Canterville Ghost (in the background) as I type and this particular film version has Patrick Stewart playing the Ghost, who assumes the role of Hamlet’s father’s ghost for purposes of proving his existence to one of the characters. I didn’t know this when I left it on this channel but it does seem as if everything around me is lending itself to thinking about Hamlet.