Friday, July 15, 2011


In the 19th Century, the American actor Edwin Booth appeared in various productions of Shakespeare where some of the actors spoke English and some spoke another language. The most famous of these productions was an Othello in Boston where Booth and the rest of the cast spoke English (Booth played Iago) and the Italian actor Tomasso Salvini played Othello in Italian. 

Following the success of this production, Booth wondered if he might play in English with a cast in another language and so he went to Germany where he performed in Hamlet. This production was also a success. 

I have always wondered if this concept wouldn't be very interesting in the modern world. In the Hamlet that I have recently conceived, I have thought about places where foreign languages might be used by some of the actors. Even the actors speaking English might use snippets of other languages.

The main advantage of this approach is that it would create something that people had never seen before. Hearing a foreign language spoken amidst the English would make the work new in some ways.

Such an approach might also make some scenes surprising again and give them freshness. During some auditions for the role of Ophelia that I held a few years ago, I had Hamlet speak English but Ophelias spoke in various languages including English, French, German and Japanese. For me, the results were very interesting and entertaining. 

When I finally get this movie version of Hamlet off the ground, I intend to intersperse several other languages into the English and just let things happen as they may.