Jim's Richard III Blog

What had started as a blog of Richard III rehearsal process at Cal Shakes has now evolved or devolved into a small novella. The author is petrified to change the name for fear it'll disappear, and wouldn't know what to call it anyway. Many stories are included and questions are even answered sometimes!

Friday, July 20, 2007

They All Want To Play Hamlet

This is from the pen of Carl Sandburg; I hope I'm not breaking any copyright rules by posting this, but I'm sure the estate of Mr. Sandburg understands that this poem is possibly one of the most succinct arrangement of words regarding acting to date. And anyway I got it from another website. So there.

Truly Martha, Josh, Hilda, and AnonySmiths it does call to us--a sirens song to be sure--and we come back to it over and over drawn by those "wise, keen, beautiful words". They are the essence of our craft, the bricks from which we build our stories
, the essence of the song itself. Remember the first time you truly "heard", the words someone had written and had them touch you on some deep level without your quite knowing why?

The lure of the big roles and the big words, the frustration of not being able to get them quite right, the possibility of never getting anything right or never even understanding, perhaps, the authors words and intent. And also the joy of the work itself, and knowledge of our own foolishness and fixation. These are the echoes that Mr. Sandburg's poem make resonate within me.

Hey, will you keep me posted if I'm using too many Italics? Thanks.

I talk of being frustrated at times, and I think most actors do get frustrated sometime during every production, and yes I suppose that feeling can build up, but I've gotta say Martha, that just one good experience, just one really fine show with a good cast, director, concept and staging will have us coming back to drink from the well for the next 10 years. Addict or Artist -- you make the call.


They all want to play Hamlet.
They have not exactly seen their fathers killed
Nor their mothers in a frame-up to kill,
Nor an Ophelia dying with a dust gagging the heart,
Not exactly the spinning circles of singing golden spiders,
Not exactly this have they got at nor the meaning of flowers - Oh flowers,
flowers slung by a dancing girl - in the saddest play the
inkfish Shakespeare, ever wrote;
Yet they all want to play Hamlet because it is sad like all actors are sad
and to stand by an open grave with a joker's skull in the hand and
then to say over slow and say over slow wise, keen, beautiful words
masking a heart that's breaking, breaking,
This is something that calls and calls to their blood,
They are acting when they talk about and they know it is acting to be
particular about it and yet; They all want to play Hamlet.

Carl Sandburg


Blogger alexae said...

"Every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief, all kill their inspiration, and sing about their grief"
--U2, The Fly

July 30, 2007 at 1:46 PM  
Blogger James Carpenter said...

Ummm.....I'm not quite sure what you're saying here......but it sounds really deep.

I am deeply sad. But I can't think of anything else to say.

What's for dinner?



August 6, 2007 at 3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Perhaps you've heard it, but it's apropos:
A Theatre Arts professor is lecturing his class:
"In your character analyses, you must examine what the character WANTS; what his problem is. For instance, in Hamlet, what is Horatio's problem?"
A hand goes up at the back:
"He wants to play Hamlet?"

June 30, 2013 at 5:09 AM  

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