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Only when we see Shakespeare in his original historical context can we understand what his plays and poems really mean.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

Benedict Cumberbatch as Hamlet!

Great news!
Benedict Cumberbatch is going to play Hamlet!
It will be later this year, in London.

I missed seeing the news, but he confirmed it recently -- and you can read it about it here.
It’s very exciting that he will do some Shakespeare. It’s a dream come true for people like me. 
It is very easy to see him as Hamlet, and I am sure that his performance will surprise and delight his audience. 
I do hope that it is as rewarding an experience for him as it is for his audience, and that he will turn again to Shakespeare over and over again during his career.
There are so many roles that he is perfect for, like  Iago, Richard III, Macbeth. 
But I think he might like to explore some of the other roles that are performed less often, like Mark Antony in Antony and Cleopatra. It's such a fascinating play, and I could easily imagine him as a strong Roman general who is brought low by his love for Cleopatra.
I also think he would be great as Petruchio in Taming of the Shrew. I think he would really enjoy the comedy and it would be a chance for him to play against type.
For his Hamlet, I hope the production is not modern. I would love to see him in period costumes.
Also, I hope that the production involves the audience in some way. To truly engage the audience and make them feel like that they are part of the play is the one great truly breakthrough that could benefit any production of Shakespeare.

When you engage the audience, for any Shakespeare play, I find that actors discover humor that was not there before -- or at least had not been traditionally emphasized.
This is crucial for a tragedy like Hamlet, since the funnier and livelier Hamlet character is, the more moving and sad his story becomes. Without the comedy, the tragedy is muted.
Sir Ben Kingsley played Hamlet in 1975. He tried to be as funny as possible, and get as many laughs as he could. He also said that he tried to get as close to the audience as possible, because if he could not connect with them, then the whole production would lose out.

In any event, I am thrilled that he is playing Hamlet, and I can’t wait to see it!

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