Vladimir Vysotsky: A Hamlet with a Guitar instead of a Sword
The study focuses on the re-enactment of the acting interpretation of the role of Hamlet based on the eponymous tragedy of William Shakespeare, as rendered by Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky (1938 – 1940), Russian actor, poet, and performer of his own songs, staged by the Moscow Theatre of Drama and Comedy on Taganka Square. The role is portrayed as what the history of the theatre reckons to be an extraordinary inherent linkage between the actor-poet and his role to which he was transfigured in his perception of society, even off stage. The study reflects on this merging in the light of the artist’s personal relationship with his role, through his own quest for Shakespeare’s interpretation in collaboration with the director, down to the final stage form of the production and its period meaning in artistic and historical-social contexts. The study provides an overview of numerous testimonies of the then critics and of the opinions of theatre scientists and theoreticians reflecting on Vysotsky’s acting. It highlights innovative trends in acting and directorial approach which tied into the traditions of the 20th century Russian school of acting while modernising them with their own artistic methods. They have affected the generations of other performers of Hamlet who, through theatre art, have reflected the transformations of Western culture for over four centuries.
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Vladimir Semyonovich Vysotsky, Yuri Lyubimov, the Moscow Theatre of Drama and Comedy on Taganka Square, the Soviet era