DEC Scan Journal : November 2011
Scan Vol 30 No 4 November 2011 7 the light of their own social, political, historical, and cultural ideologies. Honouring the notion of performance, Greenberg uses the sequential art format to generate a new experience of Hamlet that is staged on the page. Her blend of high culture and popular culture has resulted in a composition that can be approached from several perspectives in terms of its literary value. Students can research the production of Hamlet in the Elizabethan context and investigate how the play has been transformed or appropriated to suit the interests of audiences in subse- quent contexts. A focus on the nature and impact of Postmodernism in relation to contemporary literature could help to inform a study of Greenberg’s version of Hamlet, as could an awareness of variation in meaning arising from different readings of the text. Students can use their research of others’ perspectives to test their own understanding and interpretations of the text. They can consider how the text has been received and valued over time in other contexts, and they can examine how textual features, including construc- tion, content and language, contribute to the integrity of the text. Shakespeare’s audience Interestingly, theatre in Shakespeare’s day was not performed solely for the wealthy classes or the intelligentsia. It was not high culture. Elizabethan theatre was one type of entertainment in a society that also drew crowds to bear baiting, cock fighting, boxing, wrestling, strolling players, jugglers, and acrobats. All classes of society could attend Shakespeare’s plays and they were certainly not the quiet, docile, well-educated audiences that would be expected in theatres today. Predating the invention of electricity, performances would be staged at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon, in broad daylight. This required the audience’s willing suspension of disbelief in order to be absorbed in the world of the play. Plays ran without intervals, poorer people stood throughout the perfor- mances, and roving vendors sold snacks and beverages during the production. The play and the skills of the actors had to keep audiences engaged and entertained. In her graphic novel version of Hamlet, Greenberg also appeals to a wide audience. While her composition at first glance may not appear scholarly, like Shakespeare, she offers multiple levels for an audience to contemplate. Shakespeare’s version relies on theatrical devices and techniques. There is the action and dialogue of the play, including soliloquies offering insights into a character’s inner thoughts, a play within the play, prescribed settings, costumes, and sound effects. Greenberg presents the action of the play through illustration, sequential panels and dialogue. Her visu-verbal soliloquies allow the audience to appreciate the character’s inner turmoil and members of the acting troupe are distinguished by colour, making them different from the actors in the main play. Greenberg adds another dimension, taking the reader backstage and drawing attention to the constructedness of the drama. Blurring the line between life and playing a role is very much in keeping with Shakespeare’s juxtaposition of world and stage, captured succinctly in the well known quotation, All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts ... As you like it II, vii Figure 1 Concept map: from stage to page. Cover permission Allen & Unwin.