Good night, sweet Prince… Orson Welles as HAMLET, Prince of Denmark
Many thanks to Store Hadji for providing the link to Orson Welles brilliant broadcast of Hamlet on CBS radio in September and November, 1936.
Here are the links to listen to this amazing broadcast:
Part one: http://www.box.net/shared/kx46fg2h9i
Part two: http://www.box.net/shared/sj7seahtem
I had never heard this one-hour adaptation before, (done in two parts), which is one of Welles earliest known radio shows, and I found it to be absolutely sensational! I can only imagine what listeners in 1936 must have felt when hearing such a beautiful piece of radio work. What's even more incredible, it was done when Welles was only 21 years old!
The Columbia Workshop presents
William Shakespeare's HAMLET
Starring ORSON WELLES as the Prince of Denmark
Part One (acts one & two) - Sunday September 19, 1936
Adapted by Orson Welles from William Shakespeare’s play. Arranged and Directed by Orson Welles, Radio effects by Irving Reis. Music by Bernard Herrmann.
Cast for part one:
Orson Welles as Hamlet, Prince of Denmark
Alexander Scourby as King Claudius
Rosamund Pinchote as Queen Gertrude
Egartron Paul as Polonius, Lord Chamberlain
Sidney Smith as Horatio
George Gaul as the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father
Hiram Sherman as Bernardo
Ladies and gentlemen the star of this broadcast, Mr. Orson Welles...
ORSON WELLES: In deciding to present an abbreviated version of HAMLET the Columbia workshop found itself facing a considerable dilemma. Would it be feasible we wondered to give merely the plot in our short space of time, or should we concentrate on certain well-known passages, and let the story proceed confusingly. Our final decision was this: to present the first two acts of the play, presenting whenever possible, the most notable scenes in their entirety. And giving you, we hope a clear dramatic statement of the causes of Hamlet’s tragedy.
Part Two (acts three, four & five) - Sunday, November 14, 1936
ORSON WELLES: In our previous broadcast we concerned ourselves with establishing the causes that led to Hamlet’s tragedy. In especial the revelation, by the ghost, of his father’s murder. Hamlet’s own uncle was now the King of Denmark. This and the knowledge that his mother had remarried immediately has left Hamlet a creature mad for revenge. Assuming as he calls it, an antic disposition. Hamlet plots to trap the King into an open confession of guilt. The arrival of strolling players at the court has provided the necessary means. Hamlet arranges that a performance be given duplicating the circumstances of his fathers death.
“The Play’s the thing, wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the King…”
Adapted by Orson Welles from William Shakespeare’s play. Arranged and Produced by Orson Welles. In the absence of Mr. Reis, Brewster Morgan assisted. Music by Bernard Herrmann.
Cast for part two:
Narrator: Edward Jerome
Virginia Welles as Ophelia
with special guest
Joseph Cotten as Osric
From THIS IS ORSON WELLES:
ORSON WELLES: We got one cue wrong in Hamlet—one cue off with Bernard Herrmann. He had broken his baton and thrown his script up in the air and walked out of the studio forty seconds before airtime because of a quarrel with Irving Reis. And I dragged him back. We didn't have time to get the notes back in order on his stand, so he was one cue off all through (the show). So we had fanfares when it was supposed to be quiet; approaching menace when it was supposed to be a gay party, and (it was) all live; it was riotous. It got funnier and funnier, because Reis was an emotional-type director and Benny is an emotional-type conductor, and between the two of them…