Archive on 4: Playing the Dane

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Archive on 4: Playing the Dane

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Ott 26, 2010, 6:38am

I missed this at the weekend, but caught the repeat yesterday afternoon. There is some great archive audio with Laurence Olivier, John Gielgud and Richard Burton, more recent interviews with Kevin Kline and Kenneth Branagh, as well as excerpts from classic radio and film performances by Olivier and Gielgud.

The programme is available on the BBC iPlayer for four more days, or for download at Michael Sheen's website: .

Another fascinating Hamlet resource from the BBC is:

Archive on 4: Playing the Dane

In anticipation of his own stage Hamlet in 2011, Michael Sheen looks back at classic productions of the play and the many different interpretations of a young actor's most coveted role.

The last few years have seen a glut of high-profile Hamlets in the British theatre, culminating recently with Rory Kinnear at the National Theatre in London and John Simm at Sheffield Crucible.

Michael Sheen, who is due to play the role at the Young Vic in 2011, asks why Shakespeare's play remains very much the thing for 21st century audiences.

He considers the rich archive of Hamlets from the theatre, cinema and radio archives, starting with Sir Herbert Beerbohm Tree in 1908 and journeying to the present-day, taking in the interpretations of John Gielgud, Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton, Jonathan Pryce, Kenneth Branagh and David Tennant, as well as female Hamlets, Sarah Bernhardt and Frances de la Tour.

Michael explores the challenges of a role that has become a rite-of-passage for leading actors, arguing that Hamlet is the most dangerous play that exists, but that our culture has made it safe.

He examines the changing political, social and psychological interpretations of the role that holds a mirror up to history, from the Edwardian stage through Freud, Modernism and two World Wars, to Thatcherism and New Labour.

Michael is joined by other famous Hamlets, who reflect on the challenges of bringing something fresh and unexpected to some of the most famous lines in English literature.

Produced by Emma Harding.