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Watch this extract from the production, filmed during rehearsals in the Ashcroft Room at the Swan Theatre in 2004.
Act 3 Scene 2
Hamlet's 'To be or not to be...' speech is usually intimate, spoken when he is alone, overwhelmed by the task he's been given and looking for a way out. In rehearsals for Michael Boyd's production, the company experimented with putting the speech at the centre of the Players' performance of The Mousetrap. As Hamlet is among the court, this makes the speech public, emphasising the odds stacked against him.
Hamlet - Toby StephensGertrude - Sian ThomasClaudius - Clive WoodOphelia - Meg FraserHoratio - Forbes MassonPlayer Queen - Anita BoothPlayer King - Greg Hicks
Filmed, edited and produced for the RSC by Cornucopia Productions.
What kind of 'hero' is Hamlet? How does he compare to Shakespeare's other heroes? Director Michael Boyd discusses Hamlet's situation.
Director Michael Boyd explains why the company experimented with delivering Hamlet's famous soliloque in the middle of the performance of The Mousetrap, and why it didn't appear here in the finished production.
In his famous soliloque, Hamlet tells us what he's thinking. Michael Boyd explains why Hamlet's doubting himself and feeling suicidal.
Giving a note in rehearsals, director Michael Boyd asks Toby Stephens to tease out the double meaning in the phrase: 'it would cost you a groaning to take off my edge'.
During rehearsals, the company play the scene where the Players enact The Mousetrap. Director Michael Boyd asks Toby Stephens (playing Hamlet) to be 're-haunted' by the moment where the Player King lies dead. It's a chilling parallel of his own father's death, particular since Greg Hicks, who plays the Player King, is also playing the Ghost of Old Hamlet.
Greg Hicks, who plays the Player King, is also playing the Ghost of Old Hamlet. When he 'dies' as the King in The Mousetrap, it's especially chilling for Hamlet because it's as if the Ghost is playing the part. In this clip, Greg explains how the choices made in his movements in this scene deliberately enhanced this.
Who can Hamlet trust? Forbes Masson plays Horatio, an old friend of Hamlet. Here, at the beginning of rehearsals, Forbes discusses how he sees Horatio as a 'pivotal role' who will eventually become a solid true friend to Hamlet.
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