Hamlet Revisited: Adaptations of Shakespeare in Recent Russian Drama
Shakespeare has always been among the most popular foreign playwrights staged in Russia. Among them, Hamlet has always been definitely the most widely liked and often staged play. Its protagonist was for a long time perceived by Russians as a symbol of nonconformism and rebellion. Nowadays its reception as a heroic play ending in elevating catharsis has given way to all sorts of deconstruction, which is reflected both in its stage adaptations as well as in creating remakes of the famous play. However, one of the first playwrights, who introduced a new theatrical form and did it on Shakespeare’s material, was Tom Stoppard. In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead the playwright laid the basic principles of the approach to the classical Canon, which were further developed in the dramaturgy of the second half of the twentieth century, Russian drama including. It became a “precedent play” for the pieces written by recent Russian playwrights, such as Boris Akunin, Ludmila Petrushevskaya, Victor Korkia and the Presnyakov brothers addressed in the essay. They successfully exploited and further developed Stoppard’s techniques such as intertextuality, actualisation of metaphors, parcellation and contamination of popular idioms, deheroisation, decentralisation and other types of deconstruction.