More matter with less art

TNT's production of 'Hamlet' is based on Grotowski's to-the-point teachings.

skull in hands 88 248 (photo credit: Courtesy)
skull in hands 88 248
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Hamlet was indecisive or weak? "Piffle," says director Paul Stebbings. Hamlet battles with grief and understandable moral confusion."Revenge me," commands his murdered father. "But is a revenge killing any less of a murder?" Hamlet seems to ask himself. What should he do when those he most cherishes will die because of his actions? At what point does all the play-acting spill into reality? According to Stebbings, "The paradox of performance… and the essential human tragedy of death itself" lie at the heart of William Shakespeare's famous play. Local audiences can decide for themselves when the prize-winning TNT Theater production of Hamlet in English, directed by Stebbings and with original music by Tom Johnson, opens at Yad Lebanim in Ra'anana on December 8. An honors graduate in theater from Bristol University, Stebbings trained in the Grotowski method both in the UK and in Poland. With other Grotowski-trained actors, he founded TNT in 1980, and Grotowski's principles guide the work. TNT productions have toured the world. Jerzy Grotowski (Poland, 1933-99) was a world-acclaimed director and theater educator. He saw theater as a direct and unadorned encounter between actor and audience. To effect this, the actor's body/mind condition needed to be supple and superb, while the written text provided the theme on which to build. Stebbings's Hamlet, therefore, has no elaborate sets or other trappings. Puppets sometimes take the place of, or complement, the people. The text is drawn mainly from the 1603 First Quarto, a much shorter version than the printed Hamlet we all know, "and probably the only one that Shakespeare himself ever saw onstage," Stebbings has said. "We hope this text is close to one Shakespeare might have approved. May his ghost haunt our production." After Ra'anana, Hamlet will show in Tel Aviv at the Gesher Theater on December 9; Haifa at Rappaport Hall on December 10; Jerusalem at Rebecca Crown on December 11.