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Lessons From Broadway: How like a god

By Tim

What a piece of work is a man, how noble in reason, how
infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and
admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like
a god! The beauty of the world, the paragon of animals—

(Hamlet, II, 2)

Of course, there’s an argument here that Hamlet is simply putting on a performance for the king’s spies. This may be true, but put yourself in his situation: he is investigating the murder of his father by his uncle Claudius, who has just married Hamlet’s mother and become king. The Prince has been alerted to this rather nasty plot by his father’s ghost. As an heir to the throne, his own safety is in question, and Claudius has sent Hamlet’s friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to figure him out. Sure, he may be exaggerating to throw them off his scent. But under the circumstances he has every reason to have lost his faith in humanity.

Fast forward to 1968 and you see this same soliloquy, this time set to music, being used to express the frustrating dichotomy between humanity’s capabilities and its savageness. The musical Hair centers on a “tribe” of hippies celebrating all the things that the dawning of the Age of Aquarius offers them. Yet this celebration is contrasted with the internal struggle of the tribe’s leader, Claude, who has been drafted into the army in the midst of the Vietnam War.

Read the original article at: The Juggler

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