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The Play's the Thing

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Monday, June 19, 2006

The play's the thing... wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king

I found myself back at Resonance 104.4 FM last night for a one hour live Hamlet.


Using edited highlights, director Clive Brill transformed the most famous play in the world, from an exploration of the individual’s relationship within the body politic, into an action thriller. Clive had cut out all the boring linking scenes, assigned speeches from Rosencrantz, Guildenstern and Fortinbras to other characters, and abriged most of the long speeches which left us with some surreal moments…

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
But come;

The actors put their hands up… ‘Clive do you think we should put back in, ‘…than are dreamt of in your philosophy?’’ ‘Oh yes,’ he said hastily, ‘that cut was a mistake.’

I was invited to time each scene in rehearsals, and tot up how long Clive’s abridged Hamlet was going to run. This rehearsed timing, with the musician Pascal Wyse performing the music links, proved crucial to the live performance because I was able to see exactly how long each scene should last, and to let Clive know, when were live, that we were a minute behind schedule.



So all 14 of us crammed into the studio-cum-office (which had felt a bit cramped last week with a cast of 2), and went for it. There were 5 mics, 1 stereo with a pop-shield which the cast mainly gathered around, and the remaining mono mics were assigned for other cast and the effects.


Sound designer Tom Haines played on a keyboard sampler with a midi controller. Pascal Wyse played a trombone with a silent brass attached, which fed into a multi-effects unit, so the trombone transformed into hunting horns or a blast of ten trombones.


Clive’s choice of trombone worked as a jazzy improvised sound-track, as well as brass sfx for Claudius and the court. The music stings also covered jump-cuts in the action, moving us on to the next scene.

Julian Rhind Tutt (Channel 4’s Green wing) playing Hamlet was great. He read the script with passion and energy, making it sound easy – but it was Hamlet on speed – and at 45 seconds left on air, Julian jumped ten lines to get us to the end.

If you’re going to pull off a one-hour live Shakespeare, your one requisite is actors experienced as Clive’s cast to pull it off, so they can work at speed without gabbling and losing sense of the text; see below for advice from the horse’s mouth:

‘Nor do not saw the air too much with your hand, thus. But use all gently. For in the very torrent, tempest, and, as I may say, whirlwind of your passion, you must acquire and beget a temperance that may give it smoothness (like yonder fair Julian Rhind Tutt). O, it offends me to the soul to hear a robustious periwig-pated fellow tear a passion to tatters, to very rags…..’

posted by Sarah Weatherall @ 11:47 pm   

2 Comments:

At 12:19 pm, Blogger Maud Hand said...

Wish I was there ... sounds just great! Rock on Resonance FM

 
At 12:20 pm, Blogger Maud Hand said...

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Sarah Weatherall

Sarah Weatherall directed The Colonel, one of the winning dramas in Channel 4’s The Radio Play’s The Thing