O, what a rogue and peasant slave am I!

My friend Christopher organized something he called the Hamlet Rave. It was more party than performance but the entire play was read or performed from beginning to end in the midst of music, twitter updates, video and commentary. The only time the chaos paused was for the soliloquys and Christopher asked some of his best actor friends to perform them. We got to choose which one we wanted to do.

I asked for this one and was thrilled to get to do it. It was a privilege to ride the roller coaster of the words, to speak this juicy language, to give a speech that marvels at the power of theatre in a theatrical context. It runs the emotional gamut and to really explore the range of that, to use all that Rasaboxes training and switch quickly from one state to the next. Oh it was thrilling.
I’d love to get a chance to tackle it again.

This speech is often referred to by this line. People will say, “Oh, are you doing rogue and peasant slave?”
That’s why I’m thinking about the performance of it now, with this line, as opposed to the line about Hecuba which is actually how I think of it. My shortcut for it is the Hecuba speech – the “What’s Hecuba to him, or he to her. . .” But then I am slightly obsessed with Hecuba in this play.

All that aside – this first line gave me trouble for a while. I didn’t understand why the slave Hamlet feels himself to be is a rogue and peasant one. Then it occurred to me that rogue might not be describing the slave but be an identity in addition to it. That is, it could be two thoughts “a rogue” and “a peasant slave’ Two things. Like being an asshole and a jerk.

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