Looking back at the Hamlet: The Series Kickstarter...

On the occasion of the entire series going online, I'd like to preserve some insights into the series concept by posting the pitch for our kickstarter campaign along with a few new notes...

What You'll See in the Hamlet: The Series Video Clip

You'll see a rough version of one way we'd use multimedia to put the Hamlet soliloquies on their own plane separate from the action, and an example of how, by breaking Shakespeare's writing into pieces, it can become easier to grasp without losing its cumulative power.

[Unfortunately the clip is no longer available. It was the Rogue & Peasant Slave speach from the end of Episode 2. The delivery & division of it is very similar in our current Episode 2, but perhaps we can make it available as an interesting glimpse of the early vision.]

Why Hamlet: The Series Should Happen

We think it's important to enable the audience to process all the complexities of the play without being overwhelmed. Each of the episodes takes place within a defined space of time (often a day) and has a dramatic arc of its own, as well as contributing to the greater whole. The audience therefore has room to enjoy and ponder what has happened, while at the same time being pulled in to watch what happens next.

How Hamlet: The Series Will Happen (with your help!)

The series will bring the original language to an abstract modern-era setting. Dialogues and action will be performed on an austere stage-like space with just enough dressing to distinguish one locale from another. Cinematic techniques such as forced perspective allow meanings to be emphasized in a different way than in live theater. Social media and multimedia (such as in the video clip) can seperate the soliloquies and speeches from the action, reinforce the interconnection of the characters, and highlight their propensity to observe one another. The division into episodes will also facilitate doing different parts of the play in distinct cinematic styles suitable to that part, which could be jarring if the play was adapted to a single feature film.

[Surprisingly to me, this all is pretty much what happened!]

Who Hamlet Will Be (or not be, which is in fact the question)

After a series of auditions, Kitty Mortland has secured the role of Hamlet. She has had an impressive and diverse career on stage, in independent films, and in music, and has already shown considerable drive in sticking with this project through the early ups and downs. There are multiple reasons to have a female Hamlet. One is the fresh look it gives to the play's exploration of gender proclivities, love, and sex. Another, related, is the new light it throws on the many professions of love for the Prince, and their questionable sincerity. It restores the forbidden nature of the ambiguous romance with Ophelia, in an era when class differences are theoretically no impediment to marriage. But the biggest is that Hamlet is a character who, more than any other, refuses to be kept in any one category. A male Hamlet is no more comfortable being male, being royal, being Christian, being heterosexual, even being alive than a female Hamlet would be being these or their opposites. In the 19th Century, female actresses such as Sarah Bernhardt routinely played Hamlet (though as a male), and I think we can't have a complete picture of the Dane until we've seen ALL kinds of people play the part. A female Hamlet will not be exactly like a male Hamlet, but will remain fundamentally Hamlet, and help us to see what those fundamentals are.

Where Hamlet: The Series Will Be Filmed

The Evanston Community Media Center, just north of Chicago Illinois, is providing a free shooting location for the main scenes, as well as invaluable access to equipment including lights and microphones. Multimedia segments will be produced both there and around the greater Chicago area.

[This altered somewhat as the ECMC moved from their large former space to the more compact (but higher-tech) ECTV offices, with more restricted hours. This necesitated more shooting in private homes and at the Evanston First Congregational Church, which provided atmosphere to some of the scenes.]

When The Various Scenes From Hamlet Will Appear

For fans of the play's structure, here's how the episodes break down (notwithstanding some edits & displacements):

Episode One: Act 1 (as per the 1676 Quarto)
Episode Two:Act 2
Episode Three: Act 3 Scenes 1-2
Episode Four: Act 3 Scenes 3-4 & Act 4 Scenes 1-4
Episode Five: Act 4 Scenes 5-7
Episode Six: Act 5

[This remained completely unchanged. I was tempted to split Episode One into two by ending on Hamlet's decision to see the Ghost. But I decided this that I needed a little extra time to really launch the characters, and have the plot progress enough to create real anticipation for what would happen next. -BJK]


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