Saturday, September 5, 2009

SAYING "TO BE OR NOT TO BE" WITH FEELING

Just a quick quote from Jude Law, who's set to play Hamlet in a Broadway run starting this month. (From a New York Times story by Sarah Lyall, available here.) 

“When you’re faced with ‘To be or not to be,’ in the first rehearsal, there’s a sense of ‘Oh, God, I’m stepping into the world’s greatest cliché.’ But without sounding like a naff old actor, I’m Hamlet, and what a great way to question life and death... The reason they’re so famous is because they’re beautifully written and incredibly powerful pieces of dialogue. Never underestimate the power of these lines. Our language is littered with words and phrases from this play, and we use them because we have not, in 400 years, found a better way of putting things.”

One of the themes I'll be pursuing in "Inside Stories" is how we can bring language alive -- and not just in Broadway productions of one of the world's great plays, but in our everyday lives. Jude Law will be speaking words that have been studied and repeated endlessly for centuries. How does he speak it in such a way that it's not rote, or cliché? Do we have anything to learn from the actors who inhabit this or other famous characters, about how to awaken our own language? Any actors care to comment?

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