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Let’s Play Hamlet with Parts and Cues, etc

Here in Edinburgh, our Shakespeare play-reading group has been using a new way of reading Shakespeare’s plays for the last six months or so, and we think it’s time to share it with other play-reading groups.  It’s free, and it’s available online – on ‘The Cloud’ – so you can start using it today. We’re going to show you how to use it by exploring Hamlet. We’ve configured Hamlet so a group of players can read the whole play (needs 10 players); the Closet Scene, where Hamlet berates his mother, (needs 3); and the scene where Hamlet and Ophelia fall out (needs 4), and we’ll show each of these three below.

The Edinburgh Shakespeare Play-reading Group has used this way of reading Shakespeare’s plays for a few plays now, including: The TempestOthello, Romeo and Juliet,  and Twelfth Night. These plays – and others – are available in the “Let’s Play” section of this web-site. In addition, you’ll find scenes from Shakespeare’s plays which can be read by fewer players (mostly from 2 – 6).

Let’s start with an overview of how you find the plays or scenes you can play. (If you don’t want to read this now, skip this paragraph and get straight on to Hamlet – you can always come back for the details later).

  • First you need more than one person, and each person needs a web browser on smartphone, tablet, or laptop, etc.
  • Go to the “Let’s Play” page for the number of people you are:

    the whole play needs 10 players

    the Closet Scene, where Hamlet berates his mother, needs 3

    the scene where Hamlet and Ophelia fall out needs 4.

  •  You’ll find the “Let’s Play” pages in the top menu item called “Let’s Play”. A menu box will appear with playreadings for different number of readers .
  • Select the page which is for the right number of people and a new page will open up, with pictures of the scenes from different plays that you can read. You find the Hamlet playreading of your choice by clicking or touching the picture of the scene or the “Read more” button
  • Your chosen “Let’s Play” page will open up.

Each “Let’s Play” page gives a brief description of the scene or play. Then it provides links to the script for each of the players. If you click or touch one of these links, a window will open up with the script for that player in the appropriate format, and at the correct scene. When every one in the group has clicked on the link for their player, everyone has their script, and you can start playing. Each script window looks something like the following :

 

Screenshot of Let's Play script of A3S4 of Hamlet with Hamlet in Highlit Text format

Screenshot of Let’s Play script of A3S4 of Hamlet with Hamlet in Highlit Text format

There’s a number of things you should note about this screen shot:

  • Note the “Let’s Play” menu item, 2nd from the left on the menu bar, near the top of the screen.
  • Note the A?S? buttons which, when pressed, will take you to the selected Act and Scene.
  • Note the gear-wheel in the top right-hand-corner of the script window. This allows you to configure the script window in a number of ways: select the character(s) to be displayed; select the script display (Standard script; Highlit Text; Parts and Cues); select the font size and type; etc). If you click on the gear-wheel, it opens up a configuration set-up window; to close the configuration set-up window, click the gear-wheel again and it disappears. Don’t try and configure your script until you’ve got used to using “Let’s Play” – we’ve pre-configured scripts for you in “Let’s Play”.
  • Note that on Smartphones and Tablets you will only see the script window, and on lower-resolution laptop screens, you may not see everything in the screen shot above.

I hope that gives you enough of an introduction to “Let’s Play” so that you can start using it to see how we’ve configured Hamlet. You can “Let’s Play” Hamlet in three different ways: a group of 10 people can play the whole play; a group of 3 people can play the scene where Hamlet berates his mother; a group of 4 people can play the scene where Hamlet and Ophelia fight. There’s a description of all three below, with links to the “Let’s Play” page. Click on the title of a piece  you want to explore, and a new tab will open showing  that “Let’s Play” page.

Hamlet_and_His_Mother

Hamlet and his mother

Let’s Play Hamlet berates his mother:

This scene is Act 3 Scene 4 of Hamlet in which Hamlet berates his mother for marrying Claudius; murders Polonius by stabbing him through the arras; and gets told off by the ghost of his father for being hard on Gertrude, his mother. All good stirring stuff!

It requires three players. In order of speaking they are:
Player 1: plays Polonius, and then the Ghost of Hamlet’s father
Player 2: plays Queen – Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother
Player 3: plays Hamlet (haven’t you always wanted to play Hamlet – now’s your chance!)

Click on the title above, or the following link to open the Let’s Play Hamlet berates his mother page.
Then choose the character you’re playing , and the script window will open in a new tab.

 

 

Hamlet_Ophelia

Hamlet and Ophelia

Let’s Play Hamlet and Ophelia fight:

This scene is part of Act 3 Scene 1 of Hamlet, from the famous ‘To be, or not to be’ speech. In this scene Hamlet  and Ophelia fall out whilst Claudius (KING) and Polonius listen whilst hidden. A great scene!!

It requires four players. In order of speaking they are:
Player 1: plays Hamlet (in Parts and Cues format)
Player 2: plays Ophelia (in Parts and Cues format)
Player 3: plays Claudius (KING – in Highlit Text format)
Player 4: plays Polonius (in Highlit Text format)
The players in Parts and Cues format only see their lines and cues.
It’s good to have at least one player in Highlit Text format, to act as prompt in case ‘Parts and Cues’ players get lost).

Click on the title above, or the following link to open the Let’s Play Hamlet berates his mother page.
Then choose the character you’re playing , and the script window will open in a new tab.

 

Hamlet

Hamlet

Let’s Play Hamlet:

If we’ve gone this far, and there’s 10 of you and you’ve all got three hours to spare, why don’t we go the whole hog (Danish bacon – geddit!) and play the whole play!

The “Let’s Play” configuration of Hamlet requires 10 players. (There are castings for 7 through 12 players, but you’ll have to configure them yourselves). All players are in Highlit text format. Note that if you’re playing more than one role, each role is highlit in a different colour.

Click on the title above, or the following link to open the Let’s Play Hamlet page.
Then choose the character you’re playing , and the script window will open in a new tab.

 

 

 

So now we’ve outlined how you can play-read Hamlet (and various scenes) the same way as we do in Edinburgh. Of course there are many ways you can run a play-reading each of which meets the needs of some groups. We think our way is rather smart, if you’re willing to read your script in electorinic format (smartphone, tablet, or laptop, etc). We hope you’ll give it a try. As we’ve said in our post Why read Shakespeare’s plays in a group? we think it complements other ways of experiencing Shakespeare – for example seeing his shows, and is useful as part of the play rehearsal process.

And you don’t just have to read Hamlet.  We’ve published 9 plays so far, and there’s more in the pipelins, and there’s maybe 18 or so scenes from those plays that you can play. Plus you can configure more scenes yourselves. You can see the plays and scenes we’ve made available at the following links:

Let’s Play!!!

‘The Director’,
Players-Shakespeare.com
Don’t forget – for feedback on the MFFEV5, post on Players-Shakespeare.com’s Facebook page,
and to keep up-to-date with what is going on, ‘like’ Players-Shakespeare.com’s Facebook page
And finally, don’t forget we review Shakespeare productions you can watch at home on DVD or streaming. See:
Great plays to watch at home.

 

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