Tiny Moments of Joy: Hamlet at Stora Scenen

Hamlet is my favorite Shakespeare play for no other reason than I read it in high school and liked it better than Julius Caesar and Romeo & Juliet. It’s also the only Shakespeare play to be featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000, so that’s something.

When I learned that Dramaten was putting on a production of Hamlet, I conferred with friends, found what were maybe the last four seats (all together) for the season, and booked our nosebleed cheap seat tickets for March 3.

Stora Scenen during intermission, view from the stage left balcony.
View from the cheap seats at intermission

Because I’m pretty familiar with Hamlet, I thought a Swedish version would be a challenging test of my language skills and, in terms of translation, provide some food for thought. I wasn’t wrong. In fact, I was smarter than I realized to pick a play I already knew well, because my own background knowledge of the story was sometimes the only thing that helped me follow just what was going on despite the very modern language. (Though, sambo mentioned later that he also had problems following what people were saying, so part of it was certainly related to theatrical, dramatic elocution rather than to my poor Swedish. Part of it.)

The translation is a new one by Ulf Peter Wallberg, in the collection Det blodiga parlementet. I might take a break from everything I’m reading now to dip into this and see if my reading comprehension fares any better than my listening.

 

Unknown Playwrights

An empty old-fashioned theater, with gilded walls and a red velvet curtain.

My knowledge of English playwrights, despite a four-year degree in English writing, is non-existent. Not entirely my fault; too often English literature, at least as it concerns the stage, is basically translations of ancient Greeks, two hundred years of Shakespeare, and then ex nihilo sprang the teeming multitudes of twentieth-century theater. (I seem to recall learning that Aphra Behn wrote for the stage, but I only ever read Oroonoko.) Fellow writer and fellow former teacher Bryan Stubbles is doing me, and all of us, a favor by creating Unknown Playwrights, a blog that highlights and reviews unknown playwrights. (W)Right what it says on the tin. He does a thorough and admirable job of digging up the biographical details as well as links to the works in question for the curious. Definitely of interest to all my fellow literary nerds who missed out on all of this because they weren’t theater or playwrighting majors!