2018 House Programs Re-Member Me - Page 3

It was in the dressing room at the Royal Vauxhall Tavern one night a few years ago, and I had just come off stage having performed an extended lip sync to the late, great Kenneth Williams. As I disrobed, a fellow performer that evening, Dusty Limits, who had been watching (my performance), turned to me and said, “you know what you should do: you should do Hamlet. You should take all the recordings of all the greatest Hamlets since sound recording began, from John Gielgud, to Olivier, to Richard Burton, and channel them in an epic lip sync.” And I thought, “that’s not a bad idea.” So, I took the idea, and ran with it. I would chop up recordings of all the great Hamlets and then ‘re-member’ them—literally put them back together through me—in a kind of human Hamlet mix-tape. The decision to tackle Hamlet prompted many questions. Why is this play so iconic? And why is it done over and over again? Is it because, as Andy Lavender observed, it is seen as “the gateway through which an actor passes to a more exalted realm”? Or is it, as W.B. Worthen asserted, because it gives directors an opportunity to “authorize their own efforts by locating them under the sign of ‘Shakespeare’”? Or is it, as T.S. Eliot suggested (in his essay denouncing the play itself as an “artistic failure”), not because audiences are fascinated by it, nor actors, nor directors, but because it has “an especial temptation for that most dangerous type of critic: the critic with a mind which is naturally of the creative order, but which through some weakness in creative power exercises itself in CREATOR’S NOTE