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Geo. Location & Climate • Denmark, late medieval period • Readers know it’s been cold and foggy (Act 1, scene 1) Time • Begins at midnight some evening in late fall/early winter and spans the course of a few days • There are several references to past (and current) tension with Norway, which began about three years ago (5.1.64) WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR: Geographic Location & Climate • New England, specifically Brooklyn, Yonkers, Boston, and New York • Much of the play is set in the home and yard of the Lomans (Brooklyn); but also at Willy’s office, Frank’s Chop House, and a cemetery. – Prove it! Provide text support. Time • 1940s with numerous flashbacks to years prior. – Prove it! Provide text support. Economical environment • Not really known. However, a royal family and their court would be quite wealthy (the gravediggers would be the main exception) Political environment • The political environment is key in Hamlet because of the ongoing tension with Norway: reader’s learn of the impending battle between Norway and Denmark in Act I, scenes 1-2, which is then resolved in Act V when young Fortinbras assumes power WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR: Economical environment • In the present time the Lomans are struggling to pay bills, which is not surprising since America is just beginning to spring back from the Great Depression • In flashbacks, Willy is doing fine at work and the family seems to enjoy all that life has to offer (struggles with money would not provide such luxuries in life) – Prove it! Provide text support. Political environment • Politics play no role in this play, aside from the Depression, which some may say is political in nature Social environment • Royals using their subjects to do their bidding – Claudius uses Polonius, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, etc. to aid in his plans – Hamlet uses the players to help him establish Claudius’ guilt • Significant familial relationships – Gertrude, Claudius, Hamlet, & dead King Hamlet – Polonius, Laertes, & Ophelia – Fortinbras, & dead King Fortinbras • Friendships (or not?) – Horatio & Hamlet – Laertes & Hamlet – Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, & Hamlet • Romantic relationships – Hamlet & Ophelia – Dead King Hamlet & Gertrude – Hamlet & Gertrude? – Claudius & Gertrude WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR: Social environment • Familial Relationships – Willy, Linda, Biff, Happy, Ben – Charley and Bernard – Howard and his daughter • Neighborhood relationships – Charley lives next door to the Lomans • Work Relationships – Willy and Howard – Willy and his customers – Biff and Bernard – Stanly and his customers (he also seems to be friends with Happy) • Romantic Relationships (or lack of) – Willy and Linda – Willy and ‘the woman’ – Happy and all his lady friends – Happy & Biff with Letta and Miss Forsythe Religious environment • Not applicable Visual environment • There are numerous allusion to Greek and Roman myths • Hamlet writes a play and has it performed in the castle (to aid in proving Claudius’ guilt) • Others? WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR: Religious environment • Not really applicable – Why not really? Well, because many scholars argue that there are Jewish themes (in part because Willy Loman was based on an uncle of Miller’s who was devoutly Jewish). Can you support it with text? Well, if you search hard enough, maybe. Visual environment • Sports are a cultural element (football & basketball especially) • Others? Approach • The set is realistic and somewhat tangible, but also filled with convenience in order for plot elements to work out (such as conveniently located curtains for Polonius to hide behind) Walls a) Yes, there are walls, ceilings, floors, and doors b) It is a castle: readers can assume the walls and such are fancy – – c) “arras” (3.4.10, et al) is used repeatedly to describe Polonius’ hiding spot There is not much text support here because in this era of theatre sets were imagined more than they were depicted tangibly The exact date of origin for the castle isn’t stated. Readers can assume it’s old WITH YOUR PARTNER, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR: Approach • The set is palpable and authentic for the era Walls Yes, there are walls, ceilings, floors, and doors for the 1940s layer of the plot; however, the flashbacks are not tangible b) The home (in the 1940s) is depicted to illustrate the family’s current financial struggles but there is little tactile imagery provided for the flashbacks – Prove it! Provide text support. c) Their home is starting to show age and much is in need of repair – Prove it! Provide text support. a) Notice how the lack of specific stage directions in Hamlet allow for so many varied interpretations of the visual aspects of the play. 2006 production of Hamlet: the last play performed on the stage at the original Guthrie Theatre location (Minneapolis, MN) 2009 production of Hamlet at Broadhurst Theatre on Broadway (New York): a very simple set of brick and not much else. Jude Law played Hamlet. 2004 production of Hamlet at James Madison University in Virginia: the set and lighting by Richard Finkelstein had theatre critics around the world flocking to the production. Notice how the specific stage directions in Death of a Salesman leads to the visual aspects of the play being much the same from production to production. 2014 production of Death of a Salesman at The Lyric Theatre in Boston, MA : the acting earned subpar reviews, but the set had New York theatre-goers driving up to Boston to see the show. The model version of the set The traveling version of the set The Boston version of the set 2002 production of Death of a Salesman, performed at the Guthrie Theatre (Minneapolis, MN) The model version of the set 2012 production of Death of a Salesman at The Barrymore Theatre on Broadway (New York): nominated for a “Best Lighting Design” Tony Award – won the “Outstanding Lighting Design” Drama Desk Award. Props • Very few are mentioned in the stage directions. However, the following props, at minimum, would be needed: poison for the play within a play, Hamlet’s sword in Act III, the letter which is read in Act IV; bones (specifically a skull) in Act IV, and swords and a chalice filled with poison in Act V. Color Palette • Not directly stated by the playwright. Costumes • Not directly stated by the playwright. Likely, there would at least be richer colors (reds, purples, etc.) and quality fabrics worn by the royalty. Lighting • Because the play was originally written before stage lighting existed, none is directly mentioned in the script. You’ll be divided into 4 groups. Pool what you already have, iron out any discrepancies, and ensure you have text support. Be prepared to share out in a bit. WITH YOUR GROUP, LOOK AT YOUR DEATH… NOTES. WHAT DID YOU GET FOR: Group 1: Props – Prove it! Provide text support. Group 2: Color Palette – Prove it! Provide text support. Group 3: Costumes – Prove it! Provide text support. Group 4: Lighting – Prove it! Provide text support.