In this episode, we discuss the Royal Shakespeare Company’s first production of Hamlet (2016) to star a black actor, the great Paapa Essiedu, as the melancholy Dane.
In this episode, we discuss the Royal Shakespeare Company’s 2016 production of Hamlet directed by Simon Godwin and starring the 25-year-old Paapa Essiedu. Our episode is based on the recording of the production, which is now available on DVD and on DigitalTheatre; one of our guests, Lesley Peterson, had seen the play live in Stratford, UK.
This was a landmark production for the RSC as it marked the first time a black actor graced its stage as Hamlet, and the production featured a majority black cast.
Part 1: How the production interprets the text
1:45–19:30 The RSC’s first black Hamlet and setting the production in Ghana
19:30–26:00 Costumes and colonialism
26:00–35:30 How depressed is Hamlet in this production?
35:30–52:45 Hamlet The Cool Kid and his messed up relationship with women, Ophelia The Modern Woman, and a very flat Gertrude
52:45–1:05:46 Rosencrantz and Guildenstern and the key players at court (Claudius, Polonius, etc)
Part 2: Analyzing performances and how the production was recorded
0:00–4:20 What to do about the much-hated Osric/Reynaldo
4:20–7:12 Ophelia’s death
7:12–20:32 Paapa Essiedu’s dirtbag teenage Hamlet
20:32–35:52 How the production was recorded
Host: Alex Heeney (@bwestcineaste)
Guests: Noemi Berkowitz (@noemiola), Mary Angela Rowe (@lapsedvictorian), and Lesley Peterson
Editor and Producer: Cam White (@JediDusk)