to be or…ah, forget it.
There’s always a lot of Hamlet going around the theater world but this season I seem to be picking up on it more. I don’t know why, maybe it is just a feeling. It is amazing, though, that there is almost always something to mine, something to extract, no matter how many times people approach that play.
I was talking with someone, I don’t remember who, about gene therapy and the brain. Apparently scientists have discovered which part of the brain causes alcoholism in people who have a genetic predisposition and soon, theoretically anyway, they should be able to cure it. It is all hearsay to me at this point but it is interesting. We were speculating on what life would be like if all mental disorders were actually cured. We decided that the impact on art would be stupendous. I mean, if everybody’s happy all the time, or at least content, what would we make art about?
Some folks say that Hamlet is one of the first studies of melancholy. Interesting to note that it was written around 1601, roughly, and that Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy was written in 1621. Burton’s is one of the first books to try and define and examine melancholy, pre-dating Andrew Solomon’s The Noonday Demon by, like, nearly 400 years. We’re still struggling with melancholy which I guess is part of Hamlet‘s enduring relevance. It is a psychological play that was written pre-psychology. It examines the all-consuming nature of melancholy, how it manifests in ghosts, unease and paranoia, how it can undermine a tenuous grasp of reality, upend our sense of the known world. As a long-time depressive we can tell you, that’s Good Times!
Anyhoo – we’re looking forward to seeing what the Wooster Group does with it. The last Hamlet we saw was the Brazilian Rehearsal Hamlet by Cia dos Atores that was at last year’s Under The Radar festival. That one was pretty cool, if a little sprawling. But they definitely found some interesting ways to open up the text.
I listened to the voices in my head and got tickets early. You should too.