Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Hamlet or another? I ask the average non- or semi-Shakespeare fan what their favourite story from arguably our most influential author is, and it usually has some correlation with what they studied back in the classroom.
If that is the case then I guess mine should be Macbeth, following my captivating performance as Macduff in Drama Studies (Year 9). My teacher (a harsh critic) called me “brittle”, whilst of course my mother found my display worthy of an Oscar (and ice-cream on the way home).
Nevertheless, I seem to lean towards Hamlet for some reason. I never studied it, or acted in it (‘brittle boy’ never made it past Year 9 Drama) and when I mention it to my inner circle (which consists of some very borderline Shakespeare fans), I get that timeless query: “Is that the one with ‘To be or not to be…’” Despite that lack of inspiration, a combination of internet exploring, coupled with DVDs watching many from Sir Lawrence Olivier to Kenneth Branagh take on the role of the Prince of Denmark drowning in a sea of treachery, revenge, incest, moral corruption, madness and revenge means this classic, powerful tragic tale still gets my vote every time.
That’s explains my personal excitement, and why I can rest assured a mouth-watering on stage adaptation with Michael Sheen (Underworld, Twilight, Frost/Nixon, Kingdom of Heaven) in lead role, awaits those lining up to watch Hamlet at the Young Vic Theatre this winter.
And for any teenagers around the UK (some of which may be shifting through Shakespeare for their new year exams), the Young Vic + Penguin’s Spinebreakers Hamlet Script Writing Competition is your time to showcase your own play-writing skills for a chance to experience Hamlet full on. This is not only a fun opportunity, but a chance to step into Shakespeare’s shoes and inspire David Lan (Young Vic’s Artistic Director) with your own storytelling on the themes of ‘madness and revenge’. 2 winners in return will receive a FREE pair of tickets to watch Hamlet at the Young Vic as well as autographed posters and programmes, with 13 runners-up getting a Spinebreakers special edition of the book.
The Hamlet Script-Writing Competition runs until 9 January 2012. Enter here.
From Dwain Lucktung, editor of Penguin’s Spinebreakers.co.uk