Production history in pictures

  • 1756

    Playbill for a performance of Hamlet on 30 September 1756, at Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, featuring David Garrick in the role of Hamlet.

    Garrick was a hugely influential actor, playwright and theatre manager. In 1769 he staged the Shakespeare Jubilee, a major celebration of Shakespeare's life and work in Stratford-upon-Avon.

  • 1849

    Playbill for a performance of Hamlet on 9 March 1849, at the Royal Shakespearean Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon including an illustrative breakdown of the most dramatic scenes within the play.

  • 1899

    Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet at the London Adelphi Theatre.

    Arguably the most famous female actor in the 19th century, Bernhardt performed in a prose adaptation of Shakespeare's tragedy, commissioned by her. The production ran for four hours and was widely acclaimed.

    Photo by Lafayette (Bond Street Studio, London).

  • 1936

    Donald Wolfit as Hamlet in the 1936 production, directed by Ben Iden Payne and designed by Randle Ayrton.

    Photo by Ernest Daniels.

  • 1948

    Michael Benthall's 1948 production of Hamlet, designed by James Bailey, with Paul Scofield playing Hamlet and Claire Bloom playing Ophelia.

    This production notably featured Robert Helpmann and Paul Scofield alternating in the title role.

    Photo by Angus McBean.

  • 1956

    Alan Badel in the title role of Hamlet in the 1956 production, directed by Michael Langham, designed by Michael Northern, with costumes by Desmond Heeley.

    Photo by Angus McBean.

  • 1965

    Directed by Peter Hall, the production opened in the Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon, in August, with Glenda Jackson playing Ophelia. In December, it transferred to the Aldwych Theatre, London, and Janet Suzman took over the role of Ophelia. Suzman is pictured. The set was designed by John Bury and costumes by Ann Curtis.

    Photo by Reg Wilson.

  • 1975

    Buzz Goodbody's Hamlet, designed by Chris Dyer. The photo shows Hamlet helping the wounded Laertes during their duel in Act 5 Scene 2.

    From left to right are Horatio (Sydney Livingstone), Laertes (Stuart Wilson), Osric (Terence Wilton) and Hamlet (Ben Kingsley).

    Joe Cocks Studio Collection. Copyright Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

  • 1984

    Hamlet (Roger Rees) and Polonius (Frank Middlemass), in the 1984 RSC production, directed by Ron Daniels and Maria Bjornson.

    Photo by Reg Wilson.

  • 1989

    Mark Rylance as Hamlet in the 1989 production, directed by Ron Daniels and designed by Antony McDonald.

    Rylance's Hamlet wore pyjamas for most of the production, looking alternately like a lost little boy and an inmate in an asylum. His soliloquies acted like a form of therapy.

    Joe Cocks Studio Collection. Copyright Shakespeare Birthplace Trust.

  • 1992

    Kenneth Branagh in the title role of Hamlet, directed by Adrian Noble and designed by Bob Crowley. This production played at the Barbican, London.

    Photo by Reg Wilson.

  • 2001

    This photo shows Act 3, Scene 4, with Hamlet played by Samuel West and Gertrude played by Marty Cruikshank. The production was directed by Steven Pimlott and designed by Alison Chitty.

    Photo by Manuel Harlan.

  • 2004

    Michael Boyd's production with Hamlet played by Toby Stephens. The production was designed by Tom Piper, with Ophelia played by Meg Fraser.

    Photo by Manuel Harlan.

  • 2008

    Gregory Doran's Hamlet, designed by Robert Jones, with David Tennant in the title role was also filmed for the BBC by production company Illuminations.

    Photo shows Hamlet with Gertrude, played by David Tennant and Penny Downie.

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