In my Shakespeare studies, I came across something surprising: hats can talk; they have a language; they can say things.
First off, it’s a bit of a surprise to learn that in Will Shakespeare.’s day people wore their hats indoors. When the Shakespeare acting company, back in the 16th century, put on “Hamlet,” as a f’rinstance, the actors all wore their hats, even though they were supposed to be inside a castle.
So modern producers of Will S.’s plays should have all their actors equipped with headgear, even for the interior scenes.
This, of course, will never happen; no one in a modern audience would understand the reason for it. But it would be authentic.
There’s a fascinating scene in “Hamlet” that points this up beautifully. In Act 5 Osric, a foppish messenger, comes to Prince Hamlet with a message. As is to be expected, he removes his hat – after all, he’s speaking to a Prince.
Hamlet then chides Osric for having his hat off. Modern audiences usually find this scene difficult to understand; isn’t Osric supposed to have his hat off when speaking to royalty?
Well, it’s complicated. Hamlet knows Osric should remove his hat when he first addresses him; that’s normal protocol. But then he should put his hat right back on -- wearing a hat indoors (see above) is normal. So when Osric, in spite of Hamlet’s order to put his hat back on, keeps his hat off, the Prince gets irked. An expected show of respect for authority is now being irritatingly overdone; Hamlet suspects the sincerity of such exaggerated obsequiousness.
Do you think that today it's possible to wear a hat that can convey a message?
1 year ago