Into my grave?

I introduced most of the characters of the play to my class today. They didn’t have many questions. Many of the logical things are logical and the outrageous things are meant to be. But one student asked me, “Why is there a gravedigger in the play?”
I let him answer his own question but it is a good one and the presence of a gravedigger before you understand the story is provocative. What is a gravedigger for but to dig graves? And his presence, at the ready to do his job brings a certain ominousness to the proceedings.
Do we need him now?
Is it time for the gravedigger to appear?
It might be interesting to start a production with a gravedigger, make it clear what his position is, and have him idle at the side of the stage, or rather, at the ready, like a vulture waiting for someone to die so he has a grave to dig.
This seeming non-sequitur of Hamlet’s might be fun provocation of the gravedigger, who might get his shovel ready to dig and then realize it’s a joke. The mention of a grave is like that a bit, it stimulates the gravedigger in the audience’s mind. The words create the grave that Hamlet walk out of the air with and suddenly, in the audience’s imagination, there exists such a thing as Hamlet’s grave and a part of us is waiting for him to end up in it.

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