Playing Hamlet Entry #2

Angels and Ministers of Grace Defend Us!

3-9-2013 Saturday 12:29AM

Not sleeping so well, but my imagination is what is most awake. Been fighting off a cold/cough and so my hours are all turned upside down. More on fighting through the cough in rehearsals later.

"Angels and ministers of grace defend us!" (I.4). This is what Hamlet first exclaims when he sees the ghost of his dead father. Underneath this, I'm starting to hear a song from my high school choir days, John Tavener's "Song for Athene", a musical palindrome which stretches out beauty, pain and awe without relent -- a song he wrote in honor of a family friend, a young actress, who was tragically killed in an auto accident. I find great danger in this piece, as well as joy. A well of grief topped with a surprise of the insidious and the power of terrible glory. "... and the sheeted dead / Did squeak and gibber in the Roman streets" (I.1). "I'll speak to it though hell itself should gape / And bid me hold my piece" (I.2). "O all you host of heaven! O earth!" (I.5). And the well of grief continues after the climactic pitch(es). In the song, certainly and in the play, certainly.



Ben Williams is an actor and musician based in NYC.


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