Old King Hamlet is dead, his murderer and brother Claudius has married his widow Gertrud and now sits on the throne. Prince Hamlet, ill with grief, is haunted by his father's ghost. The spirit commands him to avenge him. This order drives Hamlet further and further into isolation. In 1602 William Shakespeare turned an European legend into the philosophical story of a search for meaning that is still fascinating today. Directed by Johans Simons with Sandra Hüller in the title role, Hamlet becomes a plea for radical honesty.
What fascinates you about William Shakespeare?
Johan Simons: I have always been fascinated by how Shakespeare makes a great philosophical power vivid and playable. He is a marvelous virtuoso of language. A piece by Shakespeare is like a large window with a view of a forest. Greek authors like Aeschylos seem like a desert or an ice rink. Shakespeare is like a forest with hills, trees, ponds and moor lakes. You slip easily, the ground is slippery.
What is the heart of the play?
Johan Simons: "To be or not to be." It's not for nothing that the phrase is so famous. Someone is trying to find out whether there is a right to exist. What is the meaning of life when a lie is so often regarded as the truth? In my opinion, Hamlet is extremely sensitive and uncompromising, he cannot stand fake facades. It destroys him.
In Bochum Hamlet is played by a woman. Why?
Johan Simons: I don't want to make a big deal out of it. Actually, it is normal for a woman to play Hamlet: Sarah Bernhardt, Angela Winkler, Asta Nielsen, many others have already done it. Theatre conveys itself through thoughts, not through identification. The material is about mental power and the dynamics of thoughts. Sandra Hüller has a flexible mind. She also has a personal approach. She rejects any kind of cynicism. Sandra expands Hamlet's thoughts and fills them with emotions like only she can do.
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