Why This Play?:

Here we are, tackling one of the most important and recognized works in the history of the English language.  Nothing to be intimidated by, right?  I first read Hamlet when I was 15 years old, in my 10th grade Honors English class.  My teacher, Mr. Birrer, either had high expectations of his class and/or he just really loved getting to teach this play.  That same year, I saw Branagh’s movie (unabridged text; hold on to your hats!) in the theatre.  I think an early introduction to the work really mitigated some of the trepidation I probably would have felt if I had first explored this play in college.  I got the chance to really enjoy it from a plot/characterization standpoint before I had developed my finely honed, pretentious, English major critical thinking skills.  I could just absorb the story for what it essentially is: a punk kid, depressed about his messed-up family situation, argues with himself on how to change his circumstances.

I was very pleased to see a free, 1-hour long production of Hamlet a couple of weeks ago at my local library.  There’s something refreshing about seeing such a dense work (Shakespeare’s longest) stripped to its essence.  It brought to mind my long-ago first reaction to the play – that many teenagers could identify with this confused, angry, sad protagonist, who’s been let down by some of the people he loved most.  I like most to imagine a youthful Hamlet, because I think he struggles with his own capability in making adult decisions.  This guy has a difficult time choosing a course of action and actually pursuing it.  Hamlet as the ultimate stereotype of a hipster philosophy student.  What makes this guy so relatable and famous for so long?  Because like him, at some point, we’ve all been our own worst enemy.

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