I copy a page of Hamlet at a time and slip it into the back of my notebook. I draw spirals on the page where I’ve already been as well as over empty spaces.
When I finish a page, I copy the next one. I finished the page that precedes this line days ago – but I’m away from home and so I’ve made do with looking at an edition on line. I’m not sure it matches with mine – but it’s an okay stop gap measure until I return to my own text. The problem today is that I also don’t have the Internet with me. No phone. No tablet. So I’m relying on my memory and I think this line is, “I hear him coming” and I think it is so because I remember a small laugh from the audience after it was said and I think the line is Gertrude’s because I think I said it and so it got the laugh. Good old Gertrude doesn’t get a lot of laughs usually. And it wasn’t me, it was Hamlet’s crazed, “Mother” repetition that did it, I just got the punchline sometimes in some audiences. I think. This memory is now 20 years old so I can’t be sure. Maybe I’m mixing up my eavesdropping scenes. Maybe it wasn’t my laugh at all.
And in some editions this line is Gertrude’s. (The New Penguin Edition that I use, for example does.) In others, they give it to Polonius. (Like the on-line version I sometimes use as well.) I’m glad I got to say it.
The year after my job playing Gertrude, I had a temp job. A very BORING temp job. I spent hours in the file closet by myself. And I would entertain myself there by trying to remember all of Hamlet from the beginning to the end. I never got this far in that exercise – In fact, I’d be surprised if I ever made it past Act 1, before my memory failed – but I bet if I kept that job, I’d have all of Hamlet memorized today.