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Film production and presentation in theatres has changed significantly. The way films appear in theaters is quite different from the way they used to be in the Elizabethan theatrical conventions. With the advancement in technology, some components of films have changed, as well as other elements that are striking to the audience. This paper will look into some elements in the film “Hamlet” (2000) in comparison to the traditional Elizabethan conventions in chapter five of The Essential Theater.
To begin with, the costume that the actors use is considerably different from the Elizabethan theatrical conventions. Traditionally, most actors wore the Elizabeth garments or the Roman garments. In the highlighted version of “Hamlet”, the actors are in modern dresses, with no cultural or traditional attachments. In the traditional Elizabethan theatrical conventions costumes had cultural attachment (Brockett & Ball, 2011). For example, Roman attire was only used for performers supposed to have Roman origin. Conversely, in the “Hamlet” (2000) all performers wear outfits which they feel are right for the occasion.
Admittedly, the casting of actors in the latter version is different from the traditional Elizabethan theatrical conventions. In this version, female actors are playing female actress roles while male actors play male roles. When Shakespeare wrote the “Hamlet”, only male actors could perform on the stage (Brockett & Ball, 2011). Tey acted both male and female roles. On the contrary, in the film “Hamlet” (2000) women play women roles, in particular Julia Stiles and Daine Venora.
What is more, staging of the latter version of “Hamlet” incorporates modern instruments and props, which were not present in the Elizabethan theatrical conventions. For example, since the film stages in a closed theater, lighting is an important component of it. Therefore, the staging involves lighting to a great extent, in order to communicate with the audience. In this case, in order to see the ghost of King Hamlet at night, lighting comes into the scene.
Also, it is intriguing that both the Elizabethan theatrical conventions and the theater presentation of the latter “Hamlet” included musical instruments. Although the musical instruments present are different, both have this feature as a common factor. In the Elizabethan theatrical conventions musical instruments such as trumpets were in use. In the “Hamlet” (2000), there is the sound of a piano. In addition, music accompaniment of other incidents in the film is common to both scenarios.
Another similarity between “Hamlet” (2000) theater performance and Elizabethan theater is the fact that depends on the script of the film, using their acting ability only to enhance the script. The script is a basic necessity of theater, either traditionally or currently. Therefore, if the script is short, the performance is also short. In that case, the script dictates the length of the film while actors’ ability determines how long the audience will keep watching and remain attentive.
One more similar feature of the two theaters is the fact that they depend on companies for performance. During Elizabethan theaters performing companies were in reign while in “Hamlet” (2000), producing company is in control. Actors cannot appear ion the scene on their accord. They only act as per the companies’ guidelines.
Lastly, actors are currently independent, as opposed to Elizabethan theatrical conventions. Actors rarely belong to the acting company. In most cases, individual actors come together for shooting or a theater presentation of the film. Such organization makes the performance rich and meaningful, since there are different people for different roles in different plays. This was not the case in traditional Elizabethan theaters. The same people played different roles in different plays, making their performance lack in diversity and abundance. With adequate actors, the latter version of “Hamlet” is considerably rich in diversity.
Therefore, it is apparent that regardless of the upgrading of theaters to incorporate technological advancements, Elizabethan theatrical conventions are still relevant. Many changes have taken place replacing some traditional conventions in order to enhance theatres, but they still retain the glory of theaters through Elizabethan conventions that are in practice.
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