I just listened to a This American Life episode called "Act V" for about the fifth time since it was first aired in 2002. If you have not listened to this yet, please go here now and do that.
Why? Because you won't have heard Hamlet discussed this way before, and you ought to. Even if you absolutely, positively hate the play and/or the character; have seen it staged 3,491 times; and have read and/or taught it more times than you can remember. Seriously.
The actors in this version of Hamlet, prisoners who have committed violent crimes, talk candidly about how the play's treatment of murder, revenge, duplicity, and treachery dovetails with their own experiences. They are absolutely brilliant interpreters and literary critics who become involved with the text in a way that happens all too rarely in our classrooms.
One theater critic quoted in this piece says that this production "makes a 400-year-old text fresh again." It does. Despite my usually jaded attitude toward Hamlet, this piece never fails to bring tears to my eyes. It's that good.
I absolutely plan to use it the next time I teach Shakespeare.
And now, back to those articles . . . .