New book by IUPUI Shakespeare expert explores mystery of multiple Hamlets

"Young Hamlet" Cover

“Young Hamlet” Cover

One of the biggest questions in Shakespeare studies is, “Why are there three different versions of ‘Hamlet,’ printed respectively in 1603, 1605 and 1623?”

Are they all written by Shakespeare? And when? And why should we care?

A new, heavily researched and anticipated book — “Young Shakespeare’s Young Hamlet” (Palgrave MacMillan) by Terri Bourus, associate professor of English drama in the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI — looks to solve the mystery of the earliest printed version of the play, sometimes called “Q1 Hamlet.”

Bourus, who is also director and general editor of the New Oxford Shakespeare Project, has long been writing and teaching about a “younger, less philosophical” “Hamlet.”  She examines the life of William Shakespeare, the late-16th-century London theatre environment, the London printing houses and book shops, and, of course, the play itself. How did Shakespeare come to write it? What did the play mean to him? Why are there three versions, and of those three, why is the earliest so different from the other two?

The book grew out of Bourus’ research for a graduate seminar on the book trade in Shakespeare’s London. For the required research paper, she chose to investigate the printing operations of Nicholas Ling, a prominent businessman who published some of Shakespeare’s plays, including the early “Hamlets.” Her exploration grew beyond the class research paper and eventually became her dissertation. Bourus said a book was the next natural step.

Researching the project included visiting London printing houses and theaters and, most importantly, several research trips to the British Library and the National Archives in London (for which she won several prestigious grants). Only by working with original documents in London and in Norwich (Ling’s birthplace) could Bourus track down the events in both Ling’s and Shakespeare’s lives that might lead to some answers about this troublesome quarto. The printers might be the key.

“After all, without the printing houses, we would not have Shakespeare’s plays today,” Bourus said. “Shakespeare’s plays come down to us, not only on the stage, but primarily from the page.”

One of the findings that most fascinated Bourus was what she discovered about the interactions between the printers and actors, the printing houses and theaters.

“These ‘dramatic intersections,’ as I like to call them, added a rich layer of story to my research,” she said. “I was able to talk about the relationship of Nicholas Ling to the players, especially Shakespeare, and I was also able to discuss the personal relationship between Shakespeare and his friend and longtime colleague Richard Burbage (the earliest actor to play Hamlet). This allowed me to get to know these Elizabethan and Jacobean Players (as actors were called) and businessmen in an entirely new light.”

Because Shakespeare wrote plays — not novels — Bourus said viewing the play is crucial to understanding the work.

“The best way to really understand a play is to see it on stage and to hear the words on the page spoken by actors,” she said. “A play does not have a ‘narrative voice’ like a book. Instead, a play is explicated through ‘action,’ the action of an actor on a stage with his or her primary tool: language. … Through theater, through performance, through the stage, we come to understand Shakespeare’s use of the English language — language that creates images, ideas, colors, landscapes … paintings made of words.”

In 2011, as she worked on the mystery of the printed “Hamlet,” Bourus decided to see whether she could stage this version of the play successfully and formed Hoosier Bard Productions. Her first production, based on “Q1 Hamlet,” was called “Young Hamlet” because of the age of the protagonist and the young age, she believes, of the playwright himself. Bourus’ book includes images and lively details about how directing the production further shaped her understanding of the history of the text.

Bourus said one of her toughest challenges in completing the project was the continuing resistance to any change in the Shakespearian “tradition.” Some Shakespeare scholars refuse to accept evidence that alters Shakespeare’s legacy. Even the thought that Shakespeare, like all writers, revised his work in order to craft his masterpiece is preposterous to some.

“But he was young once, too, and he was learning his trade,” Bourus said. “The first edition of ‘Hamlet’ was, I argue, Shakespeare’s first play. It’s a good story for university students because they are all, as Shakespeare once was, just embarking on the life they will lead and the legacy they will create.”

Documentary about IUPUI “Cardenio” production earns three Emmy nominations

INDIANAPOLIS — The local public television documentary highlighting the re-creation of a “lost” Shakespeare play and its world premiere performances at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis is in the running for three 2013 Emmy Awards.

“C.S.I. Shakespeare,” which spotlights the IUPUI performances of “The History of Cardenio,” received Emmy nominations in three categories: “Best Historical/Cultural Program,” “Best Program Editor” and “Best Program Writer,” the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Lower Great Lakes Chapter announced recently.

In spring 2012, the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and Hoosier Bard Productions, under director Terri Bourus, presented the premiere of “The History of Cardenio,” a 400-year-old play by William Shakespeare and collaborator John Fletcher. Bourus is a School of Liberal Arts associate professor of English drama.

“C.S.I. Shakespeare,” a 30-minute documentary that first aired in November 2012 on WFYI 1 Public Television (20.1 DT), tells the story behind the play and its production as the first event for the IUPUI Campus Center Theater.
“These nominations should be a source of genuine pride and happiness for everyone who collaborated in the creation of this documentary,” said William Blomquist, dean of the School of Liberal Arts. “We very much appreciate our partnership with WFYI, and wish ‘CSI: Shakespeare’ all the best in the regional Emmys.”

The IUPUI performances of “Cardenio” were based on the Shakespeare/Fletcher script as re-imagined by Gary Taylor, an internationally recognized scholar and Distinguished Research Professor at Florida State University. The performances were held in conjunction with an academic colloquium at IUPUI, “The History of Cardenio: Spain and England, Then and Now,” which attracted major Shakespeare and Cervantes scholars from around the world.
“C.S.I. Shakespeare” retraces Taylor’s 20-year quest for authenticity in re-creating the play, which included filtering old texts through modern high-tech databases to reconstruct the original.

In “C.S.I. Shakespeare,” producer and writer Jim Simmons, an Emmy Award-winning WFYI producer, and his team captured behind-the-scenes interviews with Taylor, Bourus, Hoosier Barbs actors and colloquium guests. The documentary also features on-stage scenes of “The History of Cardenio” live performances. Pete Saetre and Jerry Prince edited the program.
The National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences Lower Great Lakes Chapter announced the 2013 regional nominations on April 25. The nominations for “The History of Cardenio” were among 19 Emmy Award nominations WFYI received in recognition of outstanding local documentary and public affairs program productions.

The 44th Emmy Awards ceremony for the Lower Great Lakes Chapter will take place Saturday, June 1, at the Windows on the River in Cleveland, Ohio.

Production funding for “C.S.I. Shakespeare” was underwritten by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI.

Shakespeare at IUPUI: a trailer for a new WFYI documentary

CSI Shakespeare – In the spring of 2102, IUPUI presented the world premiere of a lost 400-year old play by William Shakespeare, titled “The History of Cardenio.” This half-hour documentary highlights the 20 year-effort by world-renowned Shakespeare scholar Gary Taylor to recreate the play, filtering old texts through modern high-tech databases to resurrect the original manuscript.  Viewers will also travel with Gary to the Globe Theatre in London and retrace his academic roots as a precocious and oft-published “enfant terrible” at Oxford University Press.  Then, we return to Indianapolis to witness the first-blown production of the work—an experimental collaboration with Hoosier Bard Productions, including the recording of a period-accurate but original musical score for vocals and lute, to christen the new urban theatre space at IUPUI.
7:30pm, November 1st.
Producer: Jim Simmons

 

 

Artist-in-Residence Lecture: Tim Hardy, “From Shakespeare to Shaw to Sondheim: Theatre for the 21st Century”

DATE: Thursday, September 6, 2012

TIME: 7:30PM – 9:30PM

LOCATION: Basile Auditorium, Eskenazi Hall, IUPUI; 735 W. New York St.; Indianapolis, IN 46202 

THIS EVENT IS FREE BUT SPACE IS LIMITED. TO RESERVE YOUR SEAT, CLICK HERE.

Tim Hardy looks at our seemingly constant need for drama of one kind or another — stories, theater, film, opera, literature. Concentrating principally on theater, he identifies how drama has changed through the centuries, reflecting the society it serves.  By staying relevant to its audiences, theater still succeeds in “holding a mirror up to nature” in such a way that we can both recognize ourselves and be wonderfully surprised and informed.

As a professional actor since the mid-sixties, Tim Hardy argues that if we don’t keep an ever-vigilant eye out for lazy, repetitive theatre — and he offers examples — if we don’t truthfully and completely re-invent the means whereby we would excite, inform, and delight our audiences, then we are on the short route to what the great director Peter Brook calls “dead theatre.”  From this there can be no recovery.

The IUPUI Arts and Humanities Institute is pleased to welcome internationally-acclaimed actor/director Tim Hardy as a 2012 artist-in-residence.  Based in London, Mr. Hardy is on the faculty of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA) and has performed with the Royal Shakespeare Company (in Peter Brook’s Marat/Sade and Peter Hall’s Henry V) and at prestigious theatres across the United Kingdom and Europe.  A company member of Opera Music Theatre London, Mr. Hardy has also performed in numerous operas and musical theatre productions including La Traviata, The Magic Flute, and Guys and Dolls. He has narrated over 300 television documentaries, including series for The Discovery Channel and The History Channel, and his on-camera television work includes roles opposite Ian McKellen and Michael Gambon. Mr. Hardy’s extensive directing credits include Romeo and Juliet, Othello, Twelfth Night, Julius Caesar, Twelve Angry Men, The Crucible, Gaslight, Lady Windermere’s Fan, The Seagull, The Arcadians, and The Doll’s House.

This event is co-sponsored by the IU School of Liberal Arts at IUPUI and the The New Oxford Shakespeare at IUPUI.

For tickets, click here.