Shakespeare’s Hamlet has been commonly referred to as “the mad prince” for centuries. A play about vengeance and the mental pressures (and consequences) of the underlying anger, the questions of the mental health of the famous prince has been widely accepted for hundreds of years. Until now, that is: it seems that a new production of the famous play and its actors are calling for a bit sensitivity toward Hamlet’s mental health.
Highlighted in a recent article in the UK Telegraph, actor Andrew Scott, who currently plays Hamlet in a new production, tells the paper that in light of what we now know about mental health and the Heads Together campaign for mental health awareness by Princes William and Harry, it’s not that simple to dismiss his actions as “madness:”
“The idea with Hamlet is that there have been a lot of questions about is he mad or is he not mad?” Scott told the Andrew Marr Show. Putting an antic disposition on, as they call it in the play.
“I think we’re at a very embryonic stage in our knowledge about mental health.
“So I think you can’t ignore this new interest we have in mental health now and just play it as ‘mad, crazy’.”
Scott, who also plays the diabolical genius in BBC’s Sherlock, goes on to explain in the article that the impact of Hamlet being told to just get over his father’s death would have an overwhelming impact on his mental state, a fact that should be taken into consideration in the performance and not dismissed as “madness.”
We applaud the efforts of this actor and of the impact of the Heads Together campaign. Every step we take toward mental health awareness brings us closer to a day where mental health stigma will be a thing of the past.