RTE Drama on One Podcast, 14 August 2012
Years ago - more than I'd care to remember - I did my 'A' Level English,
studying King Lear and Measure for Measure. I still remember a lot of what I learned - a testament, perhaps,
to the thoroughness with which we analysed the text - but I seldom thought of the plays in terms of their stagecraft.
In this four-part study guide to Shakespeare's play, Alan Stanford gives a close reading
of the characters' motives, as well as explaining their shifting states of mind. This is no easy task: Hamlet's behaviour
has been the subject of endless debate ever since the play first appeared. I always remember Olivier's pronouncement at the
beginning of the 1948 film ("This is the tragedy of a man who could not make up his mind"), and have always felt how inadequately
it sums up the complexities of Shakespeare's text. Stanford refrains from such all-embracing judgements; he is more
concerned with examining the characters' nuances, and how (and why) they respond to particular stimuli at particular
times. The masterclass is liberally illustrated with extracts from the text,
read by members of the predominantly young audience.
Hamlet in Howth offers valuable resources for anyone either studying the
play for examinations, or wanting to have the text explained in detail.