On Bloody Surgeons

So Tom Beyer and I have begun the process of editing HAMLET for our stint at the fabulous Marion Davies House this summer.

Tom and I have been literary surgeons before together on Shakespeare for MACBETH and MIDSUMMER.  For some reason, it’s like a marriage made in heaven.  And Tommy’s gay and I’m without a Valentine’s date.  But our minds (if not our bodies) are entirely in sync when it comes to this process.

Well, come on.  The Man overwrote.  Beautifully, but still……..  So we slice away.  We start by having a delicious meal together and then reading the play out loud, each of us alternating lines.  After each scene, we talk about what’s necessary for the story and what we just love.  Then we each take an act and cut in the privacy of our computers.  Then we trade and cut some more.

For instance…….The scene in HAMLET at the beginning of Act 2 where Gertrude and Claudius are talking to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern about Hamlet’s changed personality is not really necessary at all.   2 scenes later, Hamlet accuses them of spying for the King and Queen, but if we haven’t actually SEEN them talking with Gertrude and Claudius, it might be sort of interesting to think maybe Hamlet’s a bit paranoid.  In this production anyway, we’re toying with the idea that indeed Hamlet may be mad, and the Ghost a figment of his imagination.

Don’t worry, we’ll have a dead hero at the end.  But Tom and I play with all possibilities when we go into the operating room.  It’s an exciting process.


When we tackled MACBETH, it was Tom who suggested some female Thanes-----based on his FAR SUPERIOR knowledge of the history of the times.  And I thought we should expand the idea that Lady Macbeth had suffered miscarriages (“I have given suck……”-----where are the kids?????) which gave her added reason to want to be Queen of Scotland.  A big enough substitute for the loss of children.  Which led us to open the show with Lady Macbeth delivering a dead baby and crawling from the stage wailing like an animal. 


An arresting image for openers.


So on we go. Whatever else,  I can promise you, our Salty Shakespeare, Annenberg HAMLET will NOT be boring.  On bloody surgeons!!