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Hamlét Mignon

A Play

Andrew Barnaby

September 8, 2014

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N.B. It is widely accepted in the scholarly community that Shakespeare used an earlier Hamlet-play, probably written by his older contemporary, Thomas Kyd, as a key source-text for Hamlet. Kyd’s play, however, is considered lost; therefore, apart from a few lines quoted in treatises, letters, and diaries from the late 1580s and early 1590s, we haven’t known much about this version. But during a recent dig near the site of the original Globe Theatre, archaeologists unearthed a trove of papers belonging to the theatrical entrepreneur, Philip Henslowe. Among these were pages that either constituted the whole of Kyd’s play (unlikely) or marked the remnant of that play (whatever time or mice had not devoured). In slightly edited form (with much guesswork involved), what follows is the reconstructed version of what scholars believe to be all that is left of Kyd’s play. It should be noted that, in the interest of readability, the editors have modernized and have freely supplied words and even full sentences where the text is excessively damaged.

Dramatis Personae, in order of appearance:

Scene 1: The Guards
Bernardo
Francisco

Scene 2: The Players
Player Queen
Player King

Scene 3: The Dupes
Rosencrantz
Guildenstern

Scene 4: The Survivors
Gravedigger
Reynaldo

Scene 1: The Guards

Scene 2: The Players

Scene 3: The Dupes

Scene 4: The Survivors

Andrew Barnaby is an Associate Professor of English at the University of Vermont. He has published widely on early modern literature and intellectual history. His ongoing interest in Shakespeare includes adapted performance pieces, including a recent staging of A Comedy of Errors by the young-actors’ Very Merry Theatre in Burlington, VT.

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