Hamlet

by: William Shakespeare

Original Text

Modern Text

HAMLET

What, are they children? Who maintains 'em? How are they escoted? Will they pursue the quality no longer than they can sing? Will they not say afterwards, if they should grow themselves to common players (as it is most like if their means are no better), their writers do them wrong to make them exclaim against their own succession?

HAMLET

What, you mean kid actors? Who takes care of them? Who pays their way? Will they stop working when their voices mature? Aren’t the playwrights hurting them by making them upstage adult actors, which they are going to grow up and become? (Unless, of course, they have trust funds.)

ROSENCRANTZ

Faith, there has been much to do on both sides, and the nation holds it no sin to tar them to controversy. There was, for a while, no money bid for argument unless the poet and the player went to cuffs in the question.

ROSENCRANTZ

There’s been a whole debate on the topic. For a while, no play was sold to the theaters without a big fight between the children’s playwright and the actors playing adult roles.

HAMLET

Is ’t possible?

HAMLET

Are you kidding?

GUILDENSTERN

Oh, there has been much throwing about of brains.

GUILDENSTERN

Oh, there’s been a lot of quarreling.

HAMLET

335Do the boys carry it away?

HAMLET

And the boys are winning so far?

ROSENCRANTZ

Ay, that they do, my lord. Hercules and his load too.

ROSENCRANTZ

Yes, they are, my lord—little boys are carrying the whole theater on their backs, like Hercules carried the world.

HAMLET

It is not very strange. For my uncle is King of Denmark, and those that would make mouths at him while my father lived give twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for his picture in little. 'Sblood, there is something in this more than natural, if philosophy could find it out.

HAMLET

Actually, it’s not so unusual when you think about it. My uncle is king of Denmark, and the same people who made fun of him while my father was still alive are now rushing to pay twenty, forty, fifty, a hundred ducats apiece for miniature portraits of him. There’s something downright unnatural about it, if a philosopher stopped to think about it.
Flourish for the PLAYERS within
Trumpets play offstage, announcing the arrival of the

PLAYERS

players = actors

PLAYERS
.

GUILDENSTERN

There are the players.

GUILDENSTERN

The actors are here.

HAMLET

Gentlemen, you are welcome to Elsinore. Your hands, come then. Th' appurtenance of welcome is fashion and ceremony. Let me comply with you in this garb—lest my extent to the players, which, I tell you, must show fairly outwards, should more appear like entertainment than yours. You are welcome. But my uncle-father and aunt-mother are deceived.

HAMLET

Gentlemen, welcome to Elsinore. Don’t be shy—shake hands with me. If I’m going to welcome you I have to go through all these polite customs, don’t I? And if we don’t shake hands, when I act all nice to the players it will seem like I’m happier to see them than you. You are very welcome here. But still, my uncle-father and aunt-mother have got the wrong idea.