Ancrene Wiseass

A would-be medievalist holds forth on academia, teaching, gender politics, blogging, pop culture, critters, and whatever else comes her way.

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Yes, this really is yet another blog by a disillusioned grad student. I sympathize, but that's just the way it has to be. For hints as to what my bizarre alias means, click here and here and, if needed, here and here. To get a sense of what I'm up to, feel free to check out the sections called "Toward a Wiseass Creed" and "Showings: Some Introductory Wiseassery" in my main blog's left-hand sidebar. Please be aware that spamming, harassing, or otherwise obnoxious comments will be deleted and traced.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

High-Security Hamlet

Ain't it always the way? You announce a hiatus after weeks of writing nothing, and the very next day, you realize that there's something you just have to post.

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 . . . .