Hamlet: A Television Script

Hamlet: A Television Script

Hamlet: A Television Script

Hamlet: A Television Script

Excerpt

Playing everywhere to critical acclaim and capacity houses, The Old Vic Company will climax on February 24 a triumphant coast-to-coast tour with a live broadcast of Hamlet for the DuPont Show of the Month on the CBS Television Network.

In preparing the television version, Michael Benthall, the brilliant stage director of The Old Vic Company, and I, faced the problem of distilling the drama, the action, the poetry and the philosophy of the greatest play in the English speaking language to seventy-eight minutes of net playing time. The Old Vic production lasts three and a quarter hours on the stage.

What to cut--what to include--how best to assemble the material so that the maximum of drama remained-- proved a fascinating challenge to both of us. With the one exception of Maurice Evans' uncut version, every production of the play has been cut to speed the action in one way or another, with resultant screams from pedants and scholars. Our brief version will perhaps elicit louder protests, since the surgery is deeper.

Yet Shakespeare wrote not for the library; but for the theatre. Not for the scholar, but for the audience. (Among other things, he understood time limitations and strictures of form. His verse scans as iambic pentameter, despite what must have been occasional temptations to add a syllable for the turn of a phrase. He never suggested . . .

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