Friday, July 13, 2012

Prompt #1: My little orange Hamlet

Prompt #1: Close your eyes briefly.  Think of one object that is in the room and focus on it.  Without opening your eyes, recall as much detail as you can about it.  After 3 minutes or so, open your eyes and write about that object without looking at it.  -

Next to my bed is a small bookshelf with two shelves.  It acts as my night stand.  On top are the normal things one would find on a night stand: a lamp, a coaster with a glass of water on it, a remote control for the TV, that sort of thing, but on the shelves are books.  The upper shelf has an assortment of old hardcover books one of which is an a copy of ‘Hamlet’.  It is a slim volume with an orange cloth binding.  The edges are all worn and the pages are dark with age.  The book was probably new in the fifties or sixties, it doesn’t have any fancy commentary or definitions inside, it is just the text.  I imagine this book is the sort of thing used by actors in their local community theater.  I wonder who used this particular copy?  I imagine it was some aging Hamlet, a man in his forties, pudgy and balding, but thrilled to finally be given a chance to perform such a seminal role.  He must have poured over the pages of his little book, and even though he didn’t understand everything that he was saying, he memorized each and every line perfectly.  He had heard once that it was disrespectful to the writer to make changes to the text, and the last thing he wanted to do was disrespect Shakespeare by getting the words wrong. 
His performance was probably wooden, unremarkable, and yet delivered with such love, such devotion not just to Shakespeare, but to the theatre.  Playing Hamlet would be a source of pride in an otherwise unremarkable life.  Shakespeare has that effect on people, to be able to say his words to an audience is to be given life.  When our aged Hamlet opens his little dog-eared play book he leaves behind the tragic mediocrity of his own life and he takes on a princely tragedy.  He probably never made the connection between his own desires for personal meaning and the desires of his beloved Hamlet, and that would be the truest tragedy of all…

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