Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Karee's Performance Analysis of Hamlet

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Hamlet, as well as many of Shakespeare's plays, has so many different elements to focus on and emphasize when performing it that each version can be so dramatically different than the next. I was impressed with the National Theater Live performance of Hamlet last night for many reasons: the actors, lighting, props, but most of all the use of music.

Music in this addition was used to amplify the emotions of certain characters. While I have seen versions of Hamlet that use music and sound effects to enhance the overall experience, in the National Theater Live's version of Hamlet, music is used by the characters in times of great emotion and seems to amplify the emotions of the characters.

Hamlet for example, is listening to a record when the play first begins. The music is slower and as I watched I could relate to the need to listen to music for comfort after a painful experience. The music amplifies Hamlet's sadness. While Hamlet is sitting looking through memories the music slows and eventually stops. Though the audience doesn't know, one can infer that this record might have belonged to his father, the late King Hamlet. And the emotions related to memories are running through Hamlet's mind as he listens. Hamlet restarts the music and seems to find the strength to go to dinner.

His record player comes out once again when Hamlet seems to have gone mad. He has reverted back to childish play and the music is upbeat and dramatic. Hamlet's dancing around with the music amplifies his going mad.

Ophelia also uses music to amplify her emotions, however, she makes her own music on the piano. First she plays a duet with her brother right before he leaves to go back to France. The music that they create together is sweet and flows. Contrasting with her later version of the music that seems to be broken, stuck on a note or rhythm, which not only amplifies her sadness/madness, but it also can symbolize what she has become: broken.

It is interesting that the directors decided to allow these characters to use music to amplify character's emotions because it invites the audience to feel with them. More sadness, more love, more confusion, and more madness. Music can add powerful emotions, but when actors us the music to let us into their heart, the effect is even more powerful.

1 comment:

  1. Karee, I also found the use of music intriguing. It seemed to focus a lot on bass sounds during Hamlet's slow-motion soliloquies and during scene transitions. I felt like this added to the melancholy feel of the play and set the tone for the sadness that gradually sets in. I especially loved the music during Ophelia's last living scene as she makes her way from the piano onto the dirt pile and into the light. Some may say that it was overdone, but it definitely made me shed a tear or two. It's amazing how much feeling and meaning music can lend to a production. I wish we could more easily take advantage of this resource.