BRECHT’S THEORY THAT A LOT OF THE SCENES IN HAMLET ARE OUT TAKES. Some time ago, I came across an essay in dialogue form by Brecht on “Hamlet”, reprinted in the TLS (November 25, 2016). The essay asked a question which Brecht characterized as “the problem of how to bring this hesitant Hamlet up to the final ranting blood bath that was the hit scene of the original play”.
Brecht’s answer: “Act 4 contains a number of scenes, each of which represents one possible solution….The actor may have needed to use the whole lot; or perhaps he only needed one, and the rest were none the less included in the book.”
I was intrigued by the way that a well-known playwright looked at Shakespeare’s play-writing problems. I also found the theory amusing because it suggested that “Hamlet” was an Alan Ayckbourn play written centuries before Ayckbourn began writing plays with actors making random choices of which scene to perform.