by William Shakespeare
Translated by Heiner Müller, in collaboration with Matthias Langhoff
A golden age and decades of peace appear to have come to an end with the death of the Danish king. His successor Claudius attempts to soothe these burgeoning conflicts with diplomacy, but Prince Hamlet, the dead king’s son, refuses to accept his uncle as heir to the throne and his mother’s new husband. While the people seems willing to let itself be convinced of the new ruler’s illegitimacy, Hamlet has no desire to take his place – and thus, perhaps unconsciously, sabotages the traditional concept of political order itself.
Following his history plays about the English Wars of the Roses and faced with Queen Elizabeth I’s approaching death, Shakespeare adapted the medieval Nordic saga of Hamlet, finding a theatrical form for contempt for the inevitability of royal succession, doubts as to the immortality of the royal body and its apparent identity with the state itself – questions that his Richards and Henries would only ponder in moments of weakness.
Is Hamlet the legendary procrastinator who lacks the courage to act or does he find himself surrounded by the ruins of a hopelessly antiquated system of government? Are the conspiracies and intrigues that he reveals the true nature of politics as a political stage – or are they more the hallucinations of a grieving son and a student disgruntled with politics?
Robert Borgmann directs Shakespeare’s masterpiece, the «Mona Lisa of literature» (T. S. Eliot), in Roland Schimmelpfennig’s translation, which uses both blank verse and prose to negotiate between Shakespeare’s linguistic images and the present day.
«Readiness is all.»