Hamlet Resource Pack: Ten Facts About Hamlet

Hamlet Resource Pack: Ten Facts About Hamlet

Welcome to the Resource Pack for Hamlet which runs at the Young Vic Theatre from 28 October 2011 to 21 January 2012. Resource packs are created for the majority of Young Vic shows, to provide an insight into the plays we produce and how we produce them. Please check back for interviews with the cast and creative team.

The Hamlet resource pack has been written by Lootie Johansen-Bibby.

Taking Part Department



1.  Hamlet is the most widely performed play in the world.  It is estimated that it is being performed somewhere every single minute of every day.

2. Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play and uncut would take between 4 and 5 hours to perform. Hamlet has 1530 lines, the most of any character in Shakespeare.

3. One of the earliest re-mounts of Hamlet was on board a ship called The Dragon, anchored of the coast of Sierra Leone in 1607.

4. It is believed that Shakespeare appeared in the play as the Ghost at the Globe.

5. In the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) production of Hamlet in 2009, David Tennant used a real skull as a prop in the gravedigger scene. The skull had belonged to the composer André Tchaikowsky who bequeathed it to the RSC when he died in 1982 ‘for use in theatrical performance’. David Tennant was the first actor to use the skull on stage in a performance.

6. The first actor to play Hamlet was Richard Burbage, the lead actor in Shakespeare’s company, The King’s Men.

7. The castle in which the play is set really exists. It is called Kronborg castle and was built in the Danish port of Helsingør in 1420s by the Danish king, Eric of Pomerania.

8. At the end of every play performed at the Globe, four dancers, two dressed as women, would perform an upbeat, bawdy song and dance routine called a jig – even if the play was a tragedy like Hamlet.

9. Where now we say ‘I’m going to see a play’ in Elizabethan times, people talked about ‘going to hear a play’.

10. Shakespeare advertises his own work in the play.  When Polonius interrupts the players and proclaims that he enacted Julius Caesar and was ‘accounted a good actor’ in Act 3 scene 2, he is reminding the audience that he will soon be starring in Shakespeare’s production of Julius Caesar.

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