Mamet’s Hamlet

Published September 1, 2012 by Kristin

Brahms’ Lullaby plays, fading into—

 

I don’t think V– will be impressed.

Bert: Good evening and welcome to this hour of “Mother Goose Children’s Theatre,” bringing you safe theatre for your bedtime stories. Which is like giving Harry Potter the Fairy Godmother’s Wand. I’m your host, Bertolt Brahms.

It’s a brand new school year, full of unrealistic hopes and Lovett’s Pie-in-the-sky dreams. And with any new school year come opportunities of great shame and embarrassment. We call these moments: auditions: where you can embarrass yourself in a room full of people, and never realize it. Of course, these days, I have a hard time distinguishing between theatre audition-ers and Bieber Screamers. However, in order to help the masses, today’s broadcast will center around the audition process.

For all you actor wanna-be’s, think about your name. It’s understandable that you want a cool actor’s name—one with three names. Joseph Gordon-Levitt. Tommy Lee Jones. Bertolt…Bale…Brahms. However, just because your name is John Jacob Jingelheimer Schmidt does not mean you should put all that down on your audition card. I recently received an email from this John Jacob Jingelheimer Schmidt fellow, who let me know his intention of playing in Richard III by adapting this Shakespearean text into something, which I admit, is much more understandable than Shakespeare’s original. He writes:

Ian McKellen as Richard III

James, Edward, Henry and Richard,

There are so many of you.

When Richard the Third is read,

You all turn up for dead,

He sings James, Edward, Henry and Richard!

(Die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die.)

 

Yes, folks, this is deadly theater at its roughest. Which is why I decided to bring in a special guest…my good friend Hans Christian Mamet, to give us some idea of how to do Hamlet.

Bert: Hans Christian Mamet, so good to see you.

Hans: Likewise.

Bert: So, Hans. I thought it might be good if you would give us some suggestions on doing Hamlet’s monologue in Act III—the one where he gives advice to the actors. Any initial thoughts before we dive in?

Hans: It’s uh—ya know…

Bert: What?

Hans: A good script.

Bert: Indeed. Ok, let’s dig in. Hamlet starts this by saying, “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you, trippingly  on the tongue: but if you mouth—“

Hans: Stop.

Bert: What’s the problem?

Hans: The speech. It’s too…

Bert: Too–? Too what? This is Shakespeare, you know.

Hans: I realize. He was a pretty good one. Playwright. I guess.

Bert: So, why’d you stop me?

Hans: No need to continue.

Bert: What?

Hans: Well, it’s too long. Cut it.

Tell us, Hamlet, how you really feel about cutting your monologue.

Bert: Cut Hamlet’s “Speak the speech” monologue?

Hans: Cut it. Just do that part again.

Bert: Ok, I’ll try. Um, “Speak the speech, I pray you, as I pronounced it to you—“

Hans. Yeah. Ok.

Bert: What?

Hans: That’s all. All you need. Do it again.

Bert: “Speak the speech—“

Hans: Stop. That’s it. All you need.

Bert: That’s all? Really? Cut down all of that advice to “Speak the speech”?

Hans: Actually, just “speak.”

Three Uses of Mamet’s Knife

Bert: “Speak—“

Hans: Yes. Good. That’s it! Perfect. All you need. Cut the excess.

Bert: Wow, you sure cut that one up and baked the life out of it. I Lovett, Mamet! Again, thank you so much, Hans. We appreciate your input and thoughts on how to approach this classic monologue.

 

Finally this evening, a small introduction to the next production here at Mother Goose Children’s Theatre. We will be doing Othello: The Prequel. Here is a small sampling.

The thing with Othello:

Iago lies to Othello.

Iago tells lies,

But says that he’s honest,

Which Othello buys.

 

They all end up dying,

But what’d ya expect?

The story was Shakespeare’s,

We’re not yet to Brecht.

 

Good night, folks. Sleep as well as you can.

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