The Greatest Dramatic Blocking Idea in the History of the Theater
My English class was discussing the fourth scene of Act IV of Hamlet, when Hamlet talks to the army Captain and-- as he watches all these brave men in uniform march off to battle over a "little patch of ground"-- Hamlet laments that meanwhile, despite the "imminent death of twenty thousand men" and "examples gross as earth" spur him to revenge his father's murder, he has still done nothing about King Claudius . . . and I was explaining that Shakespeare really needed this army on stage (or at least the suggestion of an army) as a gigantic prop to make Hamlet feel guilt and shame and regret over his delay, and what a pain in the ass it must have been to stage this-- because Hamlet usually views the army from afar while delivering his "how all occasions do inform against me" soliloquy and one of my students asked me (sincerely) if "they used little people or toddlers as the army so that they would look like they were really far away from Hamlet" and while I've never heard of this being done (and there might be some problems with proportions-- especially if you've got an army of midgets crossing the stage) I told her that if I ever made my production of Hamlet (in which Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Siamese twins) that I was definitely going to do the scene her way, with a bunch of kids and little people in uniform, marching across the back of the stage through some manufactured fog while Hamlet beats himself up over his procrastination.