Past Productions: On the RSC stage - 1965
Dr Nick Walton from the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust talks about the history of Hamlet in performance on the RSC stage. Scroll down for an extended transcript.
In 1965 Peter Hall cast 24 year old David Warner to play his Hamlet. Hall was keen to attract a youthful audience to the production, and did so by presenting Hamlet as a contemporary youth, disillusioned by the world around him. The look of Hamlet was quite significant. He was scruffy in his appearance and attire, wearing a moth eaten black gown and red scarf, looking every inch a university undergraduate.
Peter Hall was determined to present Elsinore as a hostile environment. In his first appearance, stood between Claudius and Polonius, Hamlet looked trapped. This was a Hamlet who was being watched; a Hamlet who wasn't free to roam and do as he pleased. Warner was a young Hamlet who felt pinioned right from the start of the play.
Here's Hamlet with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. David Warner had a conversational quality in his delivery of Shakespeare's verse. Some reviewers suggested that Warner mumbled the lines, but for others his performance seemed natural and full of immediacy.
Glenda Jackson's young Ophelia received no comfort whatsoever from Polonius or Claudius. She was a pawn in their political chess game. She seemed, at first a woman of tense strength, but slowly her self control snapped. Here she is pictured pointing an accusatory finger at those she holds responsible for her family’s tragedy.
Here you have Hamlet at the graveside. Hall’s production revelled in absurdist humour tinged with dark, grotesque imagery. This Hamlet ended his days with a burst of laughter.
© RSC 2009 Commentary by Nick Walton from Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 1965 photography by Reg Wilson
Sophistication over time
1901-1940 Beyond Shakespeare's words
1948 Gothic Hamlet
1958 60-year old Hamlet
1965 Sixties' Hamlet
1970 Singing Ophelia
1975 Claustrophobic Hamlet
1980 Visible ghost
1984 Boisterous Claudius
1989 Rebel without a cause
1992 Edwardian Hamlet
1997 Ophelia on pills
2001 CCTV Hamlet
2004 Bent double ghost
2008 Modern iconic Hamlet
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