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Explore Hamlet in the Round

Drama Online offers users a unique opportunity to read and watch a play in the same digital space. Approaching plays through different versions or media can transform learning and teaching, providing support for adaptation studies, tracing scholarship over time, understanding a play as a cultural artefact and more. Textual and film elements can easily be taught in the same course and practitioners can discover multiple treatments and representations in one place.

“Until now, we’ve had maybe a photo or a script to go on. Now students can often read the play and watch a good example of how it has been acted, lit and designed. It gets them up to speed with what’s possible so much faster and allows for compare and contrast. Young actors today want to do Hamlet like Andrew Scott, whereas Laurence Olivier can sound to them like an old ham. With resources like this, they can investigate what was once electric about him.” Edward Kemp, Director of Rada, The Telegraph, November 2019

Below you will find a range of Drama Online resources relating to Hamlet. Drama Online’s browse, explore and related content functionality allows you to quickly and easily find playtexts, video, audio and scholarly books related to a single play or to a theme.


Playtext: Hamlet (The Second Quarto, 1604-05, Arden Shakespeare Third Series)

Hamlet Second Quarto cover image

Due to the survival of three early, distinct versions of the text of Hamlet, the process of editing Hamlet has required its editors to consider which of the texts – known as Quarto 1 (Q1), Quarto 2 (Q2), or Folio (F) – is truly ‘authoritative’. For the Arden Third Series edition of Hamlet, editors Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor chose to reject the traditions of elevating one text above the others or creating a composite text from all three versions. Instead, Arden offers clear, modernised versions of all three texts and all three are available on Drama Online.

The second quarto (Q2), the text presented here, was printed in 1604 as The Tragicall Historie of HAMLET, Prince of Denmarke. Despite being nicknamed the ‘second’ quarto, scholars have argued that it is probable that Q2 actually pre-dates Q1, as it is conjectured to be based on Shakespeare’s manuscript copy, his ‘foul papers’.


Adaptation: Hamlet (adapted by Mark Norfolk)

Hamlet adapted by Mark Norfolk cover image

Adapted from Shakespeare's text by award-winning playwright Mark Norfolk, this is a fast-paced, all-Black, contemporary version of Hamlet. It contains interviews with Mark Norfolk and director Jeffery Kissoon, as well as a Preface, 'Performing Dialogues of Race and Culture', by David Linton.


Video: Hamlet (Globe on Screen 2, 2018)

Hamlet at Shakespeare's Globe production image

Shakespeare’s Globe’s experiment in democratic casting in 2018 led to its artistic director, Michelle Terry, playing the role of Hamlet. The Globe said: “The directors and Michelle assembled 12 excellent actors and cast from that group. At the start of the process we were keen not just to cast to type, but ensure that any actor could play any character.”

Audio: Hamlet (L.A. Theatre Works, 2011

Hamlet L.A. Theatre Works audio play cover image

This stunning, sound-rich recording from L.A. Theatre Works is a full-cast performance featuring Josh Stamberg as Hamlet, Stephen Collins as King Claudius, JoBeth Williams as Queen Gertrude, Alan Mandell as Polonius, and Emily Swallow as Ophelia. Adapted for radio and directed by Martin Jarvis, it was recorded at the Invisible Studios, West Hollywood.


Books: Hamlet: A Critical Reader (ed. Ann Thompson and Neil Taylor), Hamlet (Michael Davies), and Hamlet: Language and Writing (Dympna Callaghan)

Hamlet: A Critical Reader book cover

Hamlet: A Critical Reader is a collection of newly-commissioned essays that gives readers an overview of past critical views of the play as well as new writing about the play from today's leading scholars.


Hamlet by Michael Davies book cover

Michael Davies’ Hamlet provides an overview of the text, including a brief discussion of the background to the play including its sources, reception and critical tradition as well as an overview of the narrative structure. Further chapters discuss the representation of the key characters including Hamlet, Gertrude and Ophelia as well as the more minor characters.


Hamlet: Language and Writing book cover

Dympna Callaghan’s Language and Writing reveals Hamlet as marking a turning point in Shakespeare's use of language and dramatic form as well as addressing the key problem at the play's core: Hamlet's inaction. It also looks at recent critical approaches to the play and its theatre history, including the 2008/9 RSC Hamlet with David Tennant in the title role on both stage and TV screen.