Past Productions: On the RSC stage - 1970
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.
This is a production from 1970 directed by Trevor Nunn. The furs that the characters are wearing suggest the bitter cold on the battlements at the opening of the play. Hamlet, played by Alan Howard is easily identified, dressed in traditional black.
This was a production obsessed with theatre and theatricality. The Murder of Gonzago was a significant production within its own right. Pictured here you can see Hamlet and Ophelia sat in front of the player’s stage, upon which the play-within-a-play was performed.
The audience watched Ophelia and Laertes sing a duet. There was a sense of harmony within this family. Helen Mirren's Ophelia was seen to be sweet and innocent. As Polonius gave advice to his son, a playful Ophelia stuck out her tongue at her older brother. There was a sense of two young people enjoying family life, and having fun.
Hamlet stabbed Polonius twenty times, something which audiences found appalling to watch. Having killed Polonius Hamlet escaped disguised as a monk, borrowing a costume that had been used by one of the players during The Murder of Gonzago.
© RSC 2009 Commentary by Nick Walton from Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, 1970 photography by Tom Holte, by permission of SBT
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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