Hamlet Overseas. The Acting Technique of Edwin Booth


  • Cristina Consiglio Università degli Studi di Bari Aldo Moro




Often regarded as the premiere American Shakespearean actor of the late nineteenth century, Edwin Booth (1833-1893) distinguished himself as an interpreter of Hamlet through his exceptional ability to bring his experience from life to art. From the beginning of his career, in the 1850s, he brought Shakespeare to the American scene going beyond the boundaries of the English tradition; in performing the character of the Prince of Denmark, he paved the way for a new era in American theatre. After an initial struggle to find his acting style, he became a star, from the moment he first played Hamlet in New York in 1857, through his legendary ‘hundred nights Hamlet’ in 1864-1865, to his farewell performance at the Brooklyn Academy of Music in 1891. Starting from the broader perspective of how Shakespeare entered American culture from the end of the 18th century on, the aim of this paper is to focus on Edwin Booth as one of the most acclaimed performers on the American stage and one of the most significant example of the actor-managers – from the Hallams to Edwin Forrest, and the Booths, who emerged in the early to mid-nineteenth century to largely replace the itinerant stars – who played such an important part in bringing Shakespeare to America.

Keywords: American theatre; Shakespeare; Hamlet; Edwin Booth