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criticism instead ”? Eliot maintained that “ these minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realisation .” All of these possibilities point toward a preoccupation with posterity : the desire to be remembered .
When Sir Richard Eyre first directed Hamlet for the Royal Court in 1980 , he and his lead actor Jonathan Pryce , who had recently lost his own father , came up with the concept that Hamlet be “ possessed ” by the ghost of old Hamlet . Pryce ’ s performance saw him “ channelling ” the voice of the Ghost . When I met with Richard Eyre , he told me that this was a way of dealing with the problem he felt the play had for a contemporary audience — who simply didn ’ t believe that ghosts were real .
The skull that played Yorick opposite Jonathan Pryce was , on the other hand , all too real . It was signed by the cast and entered as a raffle prize at the end of the production . It later found its way to the V & A museum , having been left in a cardboard box on the doorstep of the Theatre Museum as a gift by an anonymous donor . It is a skull that has played many parts : as a living body , as human remains , as a theatrical property , as a raffle prize , and finally , as a museum artefact .
The image of an actor addressing a skull is as synonymous with the idea of the theatre as the words “ To be or not to be ”. And the empty space cradled by a skull is the perfect metaphor for the theatre — as a headspace , a playroom , an imaginarium . Shakespeare prefigures this image early in the play , when Hamlet conflates the actual Globe Theatre with his own head as he promises “ while memory holds a seat in this distracted globe ” that he will strive to honour the Ghost ’ s request to “ Remember me ”.
Of course , a real skull was once also a self , and used as a prop it marks a slippage between subject and object , making selfhood an uncertainty , casting knowledge into doubt . And on stage , as a palpable symbol of the larger “ empty space ” in which it appears , it makes present the inevitable future absence of the live theatrical event itself , which is forever irretrievable . And it makes me think that every theatre review is really a kind of obituary .
Alas , poor Yorick ! I knew him , Horatio … Here hung those lips I have kissed I know not how oft — Where be your gibes now ? Your gambols ? Your songs ? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar ? Not one now to mock your own grinning ? Quite chapfallen ? — Hamlet , Act V scene I
The skull does not answer . And its refusal to speak is as loud and clear as a bell tolling . It is a cameo that may upstage even the most convincing Hamlet . The effect of lip-syncing parallels Yorick ’ s skull by also making an absence present : it makes present the idea of the person whose voice we hear , while at the same time presenting the fact that they are not there .
With all this heady stuff in mind , when thinking about whose voices I could include in my human Hamlet mix-tape , I was excited by the possibility of the wheels within wheels I might turn by “ reviving ” Jonathan Pryce ’ s performance . I was also drawn to Richard Eyre ’ s 1989 production at the National Theatre , which starred Daniel Day Lewis in the leading role . Theatre gossip holds that one night on stage Day Lewis thought he saw the ghost of his actual father ( the poet Cecil Day Lewis ), and was so shaken he couldn ’ t continue with the performance . Digging into the National Theatre archive , I came upon the Stage Management report for 5 September 1989 , which confirms that Day Lewis did not return to the stage after the Ghost scene , but sheds no light on the reason why : “ On the Ghost ’ s exit in Act 1 Sc . 5 Mr . Day Lewis left the stage and told me that he could not continue the performance . An announcement was made and the audience invited to take an extra interval ”...
Daniel Day Lewis ’ s sudden and mysterious departure subsequently overshadowed a lesser known story , but one that turned out to be of even greater interest to me . In the midst of the many press cuttings in the Nation Theatre archive relating to the 1989 production , and the drama around Day Lewis quitting it , I came across a stunning review by then chief critic of the Sunday Times , John Peter . But this standout review did not celebrate Day Lewis ’ s performance , and instead showered praise on the “ masterful ” performance of the actor who went on to replace him . I searched for a recording of this performance , but no recording exists . And it was here that my idea changed course . I stopped searching for recordings of Hamlet to embody , and instead began making recordings of conversations with people whose memories — of the play , and the part , and especially of that lost performance — I felt compelled to preserve . From these edited conversations , I teamed up with my long-term collaborator and director , Jan van den Bosch , and together we composed this ode to the presence of absence on the haunted stage .
— DICKIE BEAU
criticism instead”? Eliot maintained that “these minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realisation.” All of these possibilities point toward a preoccupation with posterity: the desire to be remembered. When Sir Richard Eyre first directed Hamlet for the Royal Court in 1980, he and his lead actor Jonathan Pryce, who had recently lost his own father, came up with the concept that Hamlet be “possessed” by the ghost of old Hamlet. Pryce’s performance saw him “channelling” the voice of the Ghost. When I met with Richard Eyre, he told me that this was a way of dealing with the problem he felt the play had for a contemporary audience—who simply didn’t believe that ghosts were real. The skull that played Yorick opposite Jonathan Pryce was, on the other hand, all too real. It was signed by the cast and entered as a raffle prize at the end of the production. It later found its way to the V&A museum, having been left in a cardboard box on the doorstep of the Theatre Museum as a gift by an anonymous donor. It is a skull that has played many parts: as a living body, as human remains, as a theatrical property, as a raffle prize, and finally, as a museum artefact. The image of an actor addressing a skull is as synonymous with the idea of the theatre as the words “To be or not to be”. And the empty space cradled by a skull is the perfect metaphor for the theatre—as a headspace, a playroom, an imaginarium. Shakespeare prefigures this image early in the play, when Hamlet conflates the actual Globe Theatre with his own head as he promises “while memory holds a seat in this distracted globe” that he will strive to honour the Ghost’s request to “Remember me”. Of course, a real skull was once also a self, and used as a prop it marks a slippage between subject and object, making selfhood an uncertainty, casting knowledge into doubt. And on stage, as a palpable symbol of the larger “empty space” in which it appears, it makes present the inevitable future absence of the live theatrical event itself, which is forever irretrievable. And it makes me think that every theatre review is really a kind of obituary. Alas, poor Yorick! I knew him, Horatio … Here hung those lips I have kissed I know not how oft—Where be your gibes now? Your gambols? Your songs? Your flashes of merriment that were wont to set the table on a roar? Not one now to mock your own grinning? Quite chapfallen? — Hamlet, Act V scene I The skull does not answer. And its refusal to speak is as loud and clear as a bell tolling. It is a cameo that may upstage even the most convincing Ha иQЁ幍)Ʌ́eɥéͭձ䁅ͼ)͕ɕ͕聥Ё́ɕ͕Ёѡ)ѡͽݡ͔ٽݔȰݡЁѡ)ͅѥɕ͕ѥѡЁѡЁѡ䁅ɔ)Ёѡɔ)]Ѡѡ́ՙݡ)ѡЁݡ͔ٽ́$ձՑ)䁡յ!Ёх$݅́፥ѕ)ѡͥ䁽ѡݡ́ݥѡݡ)$Ёɸ䃊qɕ٥٥t)ѡA南e)əɵ$݅́ͼɅݸѼIɐ)ɗèɽՍѥЁѡ9ѥ)Qɔݡхɕ1ݥ)ѡɽQɔͥ)ѡЁЁх1ݥ́ѡ՝)ͅ܁ѡЁ́ՅѡȀѡ)Ё 1ݥ̤݅́ͼ͡)ձeЁѥՔݥѠѡəɵ)Ѽѡ9ѥQɔɍٔ$)ѡMх5Ёɕ)ȀԁMѕȀ䰁ݡɵ́ѡ)1ݥ́ЁɕɸѼѡхѕ)ѡЁ͍Ё́͡Ёѡ)ɕͽݡ胊q=ѡӊéЁЀāM)5ȸ1ݥ́Ёѡхѽѡ)ձЁѥՔѡəɵ)չЁ݅́ѡՑ)٥ѕѼхɄѕمt)1ݥϊéՑѕɥ)ɔՉ͕Օѱ䁽ٕ͡ݕ)͕ȁݸѽ䰁ЁѡЁɹ)ЁѼٕɕѕȁѕɕЁѼ%)ѡЁѡɕ́ѥ́ѡ)9ѥQɔɍٔɕѥѼѡ)ɽՍѥѡɅɽչ1ݥ)եѥа$ɽ́չɕ٥)ѡɥѥѡMչQ̰))Aѕȸ Ёѡ́хЁɕ٥܁)Ʌє1ݥϊéəɵ)ѕ͡ݕɕɅ͔ѡqѕəճt)əɵѡѽȁݡݕЁѼ)ɕ$͕ɍȁɕɑѡ)əɵЁɕɑ̸)Ё݅́ɔѡЁ䁥͔$)ѽ͕ɍȁɕɑ́!)Ѽ䰁ѕ)ɕɑٕ́ͅѥ́ݥѠ)ݡ͔ɥϊQѡ䰁ѡа)䁽ѡЁЁəɵQ$)ЁѼɕ͕ٔɽѡ͔ѕ)ٕͅѥ̰$ѕݥѠ䁱ѕɴ)ɅѽȁɕѽȰ)م ͍)ѽѡȁݔ͕ѡ́Ѽѡ)ɕ͕͕ѡչѕх+S)% -% T