Finished off a presentable draft for my cutting of Hamlet and passed it off to my partner/editor for review. It’s been quite the project – take the four-five hour Hamlet and not only cut it down to an hour, but provide sidebar notes (vocabulary, character notes, commentary). It’s taken quite a while but it’s been a lot of fun. Not everyone’s cup of tea I know, but when I used to act I always enjoyed the analysis part of rehearsing (especially Shakespeare), more so than the actual performing. Which is one of the reasons I don’t act anymore!
The only way to do the cutting, in my view, and get it down to the length I wanted, was not to be precious about the beats. I know the beats are important and they do help in the analysis. As I said, I love analysis and I love finding out all the intricacies about meter in the verse. But I’m preparing the adaptation for high school students, and they don’t really care about blank verse and iambic pentameter and how Shakespeare must be saying something important here because the line has only nine beats when it’s supposed to have ten.
I want them to get a firm grasp on the story. I want them to understand the language. I want them to be able to see that the characters and that the decisions the characters make are just not that far from modern characters. And I want them to get on their feet and perform the works because that’s the only way they’re going to get an inkling for the potential passion that lies beneath all the barriers in their way to comprehending Shakespeare.
So now I have to wait and see what my editor thinks of the cutting – does it make sense? Is there enough meat to the soliloquies (which of course are the first things to get cut down), are there enough notes? We’ve had schools asking for a Hamlet so I’m looking forward to getting it out there!