Monthly Archives: October 2011

Hamlet

You think they used a real skull in the first production of Hamlet? Probably would have been illegal too, so you know they graverobbed that shit. I wonder how many people in the audience had seen a real, clean skull before, without the anatomy books and articulated skeletons of today’s science classrooms, to say nothing of our grinning Halloween costumes and Scooby Doos. Skulls back then were still associated with death, and had a gruesomeness we really don’t get anymore. To have an actor pick one up and hold it out in front of you, and talk to it! It’s so shocking, it almost breaks the reality of the play. It’s too real. Talk about your special effects—that’s a man’s head. What if I told that’s a real human femur you’re holding? How many plays can you name that require actual human remains? And more than that, I’m going to call you by a different name, whoever you were, Head, and you’re going to be a prop. That metatheatrical bastard Shakespeare doesn’t just have the character confront the reality of life and death (and choose Life (to be)), he asks the audience to take part in the creation of a fictitious life that supersedes ACTUAL DEATH. No more baller move ever.