Why is Hamlet so maddeningly indecisive? It’s a question as well-trod as any in literature, yet few people question that dithering is what defines the Prince of Denmark. In The Irish Times, Brian Dillon looks at another way of thinking about the character, one laid out in a recent book, that centers on the idea that Hamlet is crippled by “the burden of knowledge itself.”
More attention to Shakespeare’s collaborative career, now known to be larger than was thought, may yield a new portrait: a playwright who was also a shrewd businessman and a company man, who likely spent more time in the day-to-day thinking about the bottom line than the immortality of his verse. And that is a more likely and more useful way to think about the man from Stratford.
Stefanie Peters, “The Writing of ‘Hand D’: On Shakespeare’s Collaborative Career”
In the current Broadway production of Twelfth Night, Mark Rylance plays Olivia, a role which sees him plaster his face in white makeup and style his hair into a “pouf like a charcoal brioche.” Rylance, the first artistic director of the Globe Theatre in London, projects such a palpable “air of distracted grief” in his performance that “the carapace of theatricality evaporates,” Charles Isherwood writes. The Times theater critic also highlights the work of John Douglas Thompson and Harriet Walter.
Shakespeare conspiracy theorists might still wonder who the real playwright was, but we do know what he would’ve sounded like. Linguist David Crystal and his son, actor Ben Crystal, demonstrate the original pronunciation of the Bard’s best. Bonus: An interview with Ben on the research behind the pronunciation.
If you were never satisfied with Hamlet’s answer to the famous “to be or not to be?” question, now is your chance to change it. Ryan North rewrote Hamlet as a choose-your-own-adventure book, To Be or Not To Be. You can play as Ophelia, Hamlet, or King Hamlet and choose from more than 110 alternate deaths. Brain Pickings got a first look at some of the book’s excellent illustrations.
The brand new Library of Birmingham opens next week, and the gigantic structure is said to be “Europe’s largest public library.” In addition to its modern architecture, the facility also offers “a room from the 19th Century … to house one of the UK’s most important Shakespeare collections.”