“To be, or not to be…”.
I shall be of pure exasperated muddle if You were to now sneak in the crazy revelation that You have never once in Your life have heard that quote or that You have not read it somewhere, be it in passing or as a result of a course of intensive study! Words sourced by the most famous bard in the world, Shakespeare – or, Mr Shakey Boo as we like to call him in our class! – this most recognisable quote from his magnificent collection of plays encompasses the most complex of existential dilemmas sealed within the waxworks of a few simple words. It is the essence of masterpiece flying economy class and a saluting testimony to Mr Shakey Boo’s trailblazing foray into establishing the versatility and validity of the narrative form of the soliloquy.
A tragic revenge story that chronicles the stark and frightening psychological descent into madness as experienced by one man, Hamlet, after the ghost of his father confirms that it was his uncle, Claudius, who had him murdered ruthlessly. Hamlet’s bitter anguish and cold-blooded and murderous thoughts are fuelled with even greater potency after he learns that his uncle has married his widowed mother, Gertrude, and, so it is that in accumulation with a combination of other accentuating variables, that our anti-hero becomes ever more obsessed with hatching the perfect plot by which to kill his evil uncle, the man responsible for all his sickening woes and deafening losses. As the story moves on, not only does the tormented Hamlet suffer the death of all the people whom he loved, we become suspicious that his repeated instances of procrastinating the assassination plot flags strong hints of Freud’s iconic ‘Oedipal Complex’ – the repressed, but forbidden desire for his mother, and thus by slaying his uncle he will have effectively removed the opportunity to watch his subconscious wishes play out in the real world. Yes, very complicated stuff!
The play has been subject to endless analysis by many scholars, each stemming from varying fields of interest, and if You are keen to chase up on these interpretations and critiques then I recommend that You dig down deeper and seek out these eye-opening accounts, and should You ever watch the play, I assure You that the edification of Your knowledge by reading up on the underlying scaffolding themes will add new and rich textures to Your enjoyment and appreciation of the complex character portraits drawn by Mr Shakey Boo.
BUT, it is not my intention to write out a lengthy deliberation on the winding depths of the complexity of the human mind. Mr Shakey Boo has already done that for us. Instead, what I wish to gift You tonight is an extremely special portrait of my student, Sir Lawrie, Shakespeare expert extraordinaire, who brought into my class yet another book today, and of whose entrancing significance shall arouse gravitational waves of glorious admiration and esteem for my wonderful student. Let me explain. ♥
I stomped into classroom and dumped my bags into the corner, relieved at last to be carrying only my own bodyweights, for, as it with us teaching folk, we are always armed to the teeth with files and pens and books and, well, let me not bore You! As I plonked into my seat I saw from the corner of my eye a new book beside Sir Lawrie. He had done it again, bestowing the class with yet another picking from the bard’s treasury, and at this point I was adamant in my conclusion that this valiant chap, who was my student, must have in his house a library of sizeable means, piled and compressed in by literature sparked by the motives and eyes of a loving collector. Surely every single book ever published in the name of Shakespeare is stashed away in that room!
“Sir Lawrie, my oh my, what is that on your desk? I am feeling excited and you better tell me more otherwise I will explode and splatter all over your face and that is something I suspect you will not thank me for!” I sat back in my chair and thanked the gods for blessing me with such a talented and passionate kaleidoscope of students, for they were always doing everything they could to impress me with their inexhaustible zeal for the written word! ♥
“Mazzy, when I was at the Globe Theatre in London, performing with Tommy, I bought my own copy of Hamlet. This is for you!” He held the book up and the authority in his presenting poise evidenced quite clearly that he had analysed and performed the play on stage – indeed, for at The Blue Apple, he had done precisely that and what a stellar act that was!
“My darling, you are an inspiration and I am so very happy and grateful that you took the time and energy to bring to all of us yet another one of your favourites! You are a star! I mean that!” I rubbed his arm in affection and he beamed a massive smile back at me, whilst all my other students eagerly shuffled in their seats to catch a better view of the cover of the book.
And that is when Sir Lawrie, a student with learning difficulties, spoke the most beautiful and profound words for me on this day that I felt like hugging him and then sending him onto the stage of the world so that he may show the good force and liberating potential of the written word. ♥
“Lawrie, my love, what a fantastic cover your book has! I never challenged myself to think of the possibility that Hamlet could be played by a black actor. This is amazing!” I was genuinely startled by my own reaction as the freshness of a brand new visual perspective hit me and, in that buoyant euphoria of wakefulness, I became acutely aware that my dear Sir Lawrie had tilted the light on my own complacency with the age-old casting traditions of Shakespearean theatre.
“Mazzy, I like this cover, too!! It doesn’t matter if he’s brown. Shakespeare is for everyone!”
In all my hefty pondering, how could I have missed the obvious…? Giggle, giggle! ♥♥♥
Photography & Words: © Masufa Khatun | Mazzy Khatun Photo Stories | Winchester | UK 2016