Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Noh Hamlet

(I thought I had posted this earlier but I guess I didn't I apologize!)
I found a production of Hamlet directed by Yoshihiro Kurita influenced by traditional noh theatre.  I am not very familiar with noh theatre, but from my brief reading of the Encyclopedia Brittanica article dedicated to it I can see some of where the director took influences (the very open stage and costuming are a few examples).  There is intricately choreographed pantomime during some of the scenes, as is typical of noh theatre. There is also tense piano music during a large portion of the play, adding to the intensity of the moment.  This, coupled with the incredible actors’ ability to make the emotions of their lines evident even to non-Japanese speakers, makes for a very interesting take on Hamlet.
One of the things I find most striking is that Hamlet remains seated, unmoving, at downstage center and the characters move around and interact with him.  The small description below the video describes this choice as making it seem like the play is a dream or memory of Hamlet's, which I think adds to the interpretation of Hamlet as being in a lot of emotional turmoil.
When we were reading Hamlet in AP Lit, we would interpret each character various different ways, and each interpretation completely changed how we would see the play.  One of the ways that we would interpret Hamlet is that he is sinister, just pretending to have gone crazy and manipulating every other character in order to get revenge on his father by killing Claudius.  This production seems to take it to more of an extreme than I did in class, presenting Hamlet, especially in the exchange he has with Ophelia directly after the “To be or not to be” soliloquy, as one who has become cold in his search for revenge.  Hamlet’s tone is cruel towards Ophelia, and he breaks her heart (in my interpretation) to make her want to distance herself from him.  His constant presence in every scene makes it seem like he is the one influencing everyone’s actions, which works perfectly with the director’s vision.

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