Chapter 2. Performing Writing: Hamlet

  1. W. B. Worthen

Published Online: 15 JAN 2010

DOI: 10.1002/9781444317374.ch2

Drama: Between Poetry and Performance

Drama: Between Poetry and Performance

How to Cite

Worthen, W. B. (2009) Performing Writing: Hamlet, in Drama: Between Poetry and Performance, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444317374.ch2

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 15 JAN 2010
  2. Published Print: 18 DEC 2009

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405153416

Online ISBN: 9781444317374



  • performing writing - Hamlet;
  • Gertrude spies Hamlet “sadly” reading on a book - reading itself, the sign of his wretchedness;
  • books figuring prominently in the action of Hamlet;
  • beyond material writing, imagery of literate culture suffusing the play;
  • books and writing - essential metaphor for consciousness and character;
  • Hamlet's Book - Playing the book, Hamlet's book a striking prop;
  • Playing the book - also opens Hamlet's extended meditation on dramatic theatre;
  • in Hamlet, delivering a scripted speech - constraint of performing writing leading to inauthenticity;
  • corrupt stuff or, doing things with (old) words;
  • Wooster Group Hamlet - transformation of cultural traditions, rituals of dramatic theatre – by digital technologies


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Hamlet's Book

  • Corrupt Stuff; or, Doing Things with (Old) Words

  • “OK, we can skip to the book”: The Wooster Group Hamlet