English 205: Assignment 2 (7.5%)

Due date: Thursday 17 November, in tutorial

Your response must begin with an underlined thesis statement (a sentence stating your argument in clear, direct, and precise language). Remember, a valid argument can have a counter-argument.

Listen to these three radio adaptations of Hamlet 2.2 (pages 38-55):

  1. BBC Radio production (1992) with Kenneth Branagh:  <information>
  2. Arkangel Shakespeare production (1998) with Simon Russell Beale: <information> <cast list>
  3. BBC Radio production (1999) with Michael Sheen:  <information>

Then write a 500-word response to one of these questions:

  1. How does your knowledge of Shakespeare’s theatre–from the Dessen article we have read, and/or from Prof. Ullyot’s slideshow on YouTube–influence your interpretation of this scene? Why do we need to know about Elizabethan theatre conventions and conditions to understand this scene as Shakespeare wrote it? How do any of these three radio adaptations make choices that depart from the play’s original theatrical context? Quote specific lines from the text to make your case convincing.
  2. Compare at least two of these performances as different interpretations of this scene. How is a performance like a critical interpretation (e.g. an argumentative essay), and how is it different? How do actors and directors make decisions that influence the audience’s interpretation of a text? What do readers gain and lose when considering performances? Quote specific lines from the text to make your case convincing.

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