Get thee ready for Hamlet on YouTube

Before we immerse ourselves in our movie night, we reflect back on how one particular play was approached in a new and exciting way

4 minute read

Ahead of watching our YouTube Premiere of Hamlet, which is available until Sunday 19th April, we invite you to look back with us at the 2018 production and its unique creative process.

An actor uses sign language in a rehearsal
Nadia Nadarajah in rehearsal for Hamlet, Globe Theatre, 2018. Photography by Tristram Kenton.

Shakespeare’s most famous tragedy, Hamlet, is viewed by many as the fullest expression of Shakespeare’s genius. Spanning political intrigue, sexual obsession, philosophical reflection and violent action, our 2018 production embraced the play’s tragic depth and wild humour.

The show, which took place in the Globe Theatre, launched Michelle Terry’s first season here as new Artistic Director.

One ensemble (the designer, the composer, the choreographer, the actors and the directors) rehearsed the play simultaneously with As You Like It. 

An image of a wall covered in photos and cut-outs from magazines

A photo from the ensemble’s ‘test tube’ – their rehearsal space where everything and anything was possible.

‘A radical theatrical experiment.’

Referring to the rehearsal room as a ‘test tube’ in to which everything and anything could be flung, the ensemble viewed their creative space equally. The entire journey was embraced as an experiment. The result of this particular test… a team who had the ability to be as curious as they wished.

On the first day of rehearsals their brief was to ‘start from scratch’ and explore all production choices together, something which doesn’t always occur in the traditional theatre-making process, where decisions are often made months before productions are even cast.

Two actors engage in a sword fight on stage

Michelle Terry (Hamlet) and Bettrys Jones (Laertes) in Hamlet, Globe Theatre, 2018. Photography by Tristram Kenton.

‘Our mutual aim was to discover everything in the rehearsal room where decisions could be made as a collective. I decided to be there every day rather than only coming in for fight sessions. It taught me a lot about how the actors viewed their characters’ journeys and why they need to use violence.’

Yarit Dor, Fight Director, Hamlet

Michelle Terry (Hamlet) and Bettrys Jones (Laertes) in Hamlet, Globe Theatre, 2018. Photography by Tristram Kenton.

‘We face the most challenging time in history as an industry.’

The ensemble behind this production began the creative process in a truly collaborative sense, and from a completely blank canvas their final creation was shared for the first time on 25th April 2018, when audiences gathered within our wooden O, as the final, vital piece in the show’s puzzle.

Fast-forward two years and right now we face the most challenging time in history as an industry. Last month, along with government guidance, we closed our doors to the public until further notice and are asking our supporters to donate if they can.

‘In 1599, when Hamlet stood and uttered the words “Now I am alone” – he would have been surrounded by up to 3,000 people,’ says Artistic Director, Michelle Terry. ‘Now we are alone, but we are also in the company of billions, from all around the globe, finding the most inspiring ways to be alone, together.’

Two actors stand on a stage looking worried

Colin Hurley (Ghost) and Michelle Terry (Hamlet) in Hamlet, Globe Theatre, 2018. Photography by Tristram Kenton.

‘We also want to ensure that our heart remains open to you all.’

So, at this time, we want to continue striving towards our mission of making Shakespeare accessible to all – looking back at (and sharing digitally) our, past but also planning for and safeguarding our future.

We also want to ensure that our heart remains open to you all. The upcoming live stream of this key production will form part of a series in which we will share six Shakespeare’s Globe titles, for free, across YouTube, as well as two entire festivals (full details of that to be announced soon).

The trailer for the original production of Hamlet in 2018.

The rehearsal space for Hamlet (2018) was ‘open’, meaning everyone across our organisation became part of the process.

‘What really happens in a creative space when any actor can play any character at any time…’

Shubham Saraf (Ophelia) in Hamlet, Globe Theatre, 2018. Photography by Tristram Kenton.

You can explore Hamlet further by downloading the programme for the original production. Within its pages are articles, synopsis, cast & creatives, biographies and more.

You can also listen to and download the text for introductory notes, and check out our visual story too. This was created for our relaxed performance in 2018 and can be useful for those wanting to familiarise themselves with the video beforehand, as it details themes, characters and when loud noises occur.

Want to learn more about how the ensemble worked together? Back in 2018, our podcast series Such Stuff went behind the scenes to explore the show’s music  and reveal what really happens when any actor can play any character at any time.

Also ahead of the digital premiere, our very own Professor Farah Karim-Cooper provides a pre-show talk.

Well, we think that’s plenty of background for you all for now, ahead of our YouTube Premiere kicking off tonight (Monday 6th April) at 7.00pm.

Hamlet will be available for a fortnight before being replaced by another title – get the full details on how to tune in via our website.

We will see you there.

We may not be meeting physically this time, but we can’t wait to get together virtually with all of our friends. And if you haven’t already, we’re welcoming any donations small or large in return for our free streams, especially at this unprecedented time for our organisation. Thank you.

Michelle Terry (Hamlet) and Catrin Aaron (Horatio) in Hamlet, Globe Theatre, 2018. Photography by Tristram Kenton.

‘In the words of Hamlet: “Come, let’s go together”.’

Michelle Terry, Artistic Director, Shakespeare’s Globe

FINIS.