Friday, April 26, 2013

Alexander Graham Bell's Hamlet.

Not yet, but soon. Researchers at the Smithsonian Institute have managed to resurrect Bell's voice from one of his wax-and-cardboard test discs from 1885:
"Early in 2011, Haber, his colleague physicist Earl Cornell and Peter Alyea, a digital conversion specialist at the Library of Congress, began analyzing the Volta Lab discs, unlocking sound inaccessible for more than a century. Muffled voices could be detected reciting Hamlet’s soliloquy, sequences of numbers and “Mary Had a Little Lamb.”
Remarkable. The YouTube video of the recording at Wired doesn't include Hamlet but I'll keep my ear out.

Shakespeare at the BBC:
Discovery: Frankenstein's Moon.

Last September, the BBC World Service programme Discovery interviewed forensic astronomer Don Olson who utilises the heavens in an attempt to solve cultural mysteries.

 As well as demonstrating that part of Mary Shelley's inspiration for Frankenstein was no embellishment, he "also outlines his theory that a star referred to in Shakespeare’s Hamlet was inspired by a spectacular supernova which blazed in sky one year during the playwright’s childhood."

The quarter hour programme is still available to listen to here.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Philip Seymour Hoffman in Tom Stoppard's The Fifteen Minute Hamlet.

Posted as part of Mental_Floss's rundown of "strange" Shakespeare adaptation is this rare find, a television recording of Stoppard's cutdown Hamlet from 1995, starring Austin Pendleton in the title role, with Hoffman as amongst others Laertes and Horatio. Also notable for their work since, Paul Ben-Victor who went on to play Spiro in The Wire and gold plates "that guy" Xander Berkley as Shakespeare. It's a really remarkable interpretation, drama toppling over itself and very moving in places in spite of itself. The director Todd Louiso has some obvious flare -- he's had a long career as a character actor too. Notice that somehow, during this US cable broadcast, the channel still managed to work in a commercial break (breaking the momentum a little bit). Part two is below.