Now this is a genre I'm never sure about. What is classed as a drama? It can be anything from a musical like Chicago, a war film like Pearl Harbour, a period drama like Sense and Sensibility, or an offbeat comedy like The Family Stone. It's not as easy to pinpoint what can be classed as a drama as they often fall under other categories, such as Comedy, Action, Romance... the main theme (from what I can gather) is that a Drama has to above all pull at your heart strings. So even though Dramas can often be classed as comedies, not all comedies are dramas...
The online definition tells me that... "(drama can be defined as) the literary genre of works intended for the theater." The above mentioned titles are all films I enjoyed, they made me laugh and they made me shed the odd tear... (ok I cry bucket loads at Pearl Harbour, it's just too sad). But they were not all intended for theatre (though I'd love to go and see Chicago at the theatre one day). In fact, a lot of today's dramas would be difficult to replicate on stage.
So, thinking of dramas in the theatrical sense, I have to choose something written by Shakespeare. In my mind, he wrote the best stories... Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, The Taming of the Shrew, Much Ado About Nothing ... to name some of my favourites.
I have watched many film adaptations of Hamlet, from modern (starring Ethan Hawke), to the more classic version brought to life by Kenneth Branagh... The latter is my favourite version of Hamlet. I first watched it as a child and was mesmerized by the powerful story. Years later I still have a big place in my heart for Hamlet. A couple years ago I wrote a short story for a competition, in which you chose your favourite story and re-wrote it with a twist... Just for fun I thought I would share that story, in which I re-wrote Ophelia's character...
Ophelia watched Hamlet with bright eyes. His head nestled in her lap as they lounged, privately, in one of the castle’s rooms. The day had spread out lazily, the sun making a glaringly low appearance in the pale winter sky. The fireplace was alight with crackling flames, the familiar scent colouring everything with its own characteristic tone. This was one of many moments Ophelia had recently had the Prince to herself, the skin of his bare shoulders warming against her side. The moment was perfect it seemed, and she had planned it well.
Ambition can be a powerful drive, Ophelia knew. And when you’re a woman of limited choices, you aim high. Ophelia saw this; she saw her window of opportunity and made herself known to the Prince. People may have thought her acts calculated, had they known her intentions. But her father had decided Hamlet was not within her reach, that he merely toyed with her, a passing fancy. Once her father passed, no matter how far away that may seem now, she would be alone but for marriage. Marriage could make her a Queen.
The chances she had taken these last few weeks had been great. The loss of her honour, the last thing she truly had to give, had been calculated to produce the perfect outcome, culminating in a confession of love. No, Ophelia did not think she was calculating at all, she merely wished to fulfill her ambitions.
‘What thought entertains your mind my love?’ Ophelia asked the Prince in sotto voce.
‘Laying my head in a maidens lap. It entertains my thoughts for hours.’ Hamlet laughed with a warmth that filled the room, but Ophelia still sensed an edge to it, the loss of the King seemed to sting at his usually light humour.
Weeks seemed to have passed in a flurry of activity and Ophelia was not pleased with how matters were going. Hamlets madness kept her away from him, as she seemed to be on the wrong side of his favour. Her work must not have been in vain, she pondered, unsettled. Perhaps if she called on Hamlet, asked for forgiveness for whatever wrong he felt she’d dealt him.
‘My dear sister,’ Laertes entered the room with a sombre mood upon his brow, stopping her thoughts. His eyes appeared red, perhaps with anger, she mused.
‘What offends you so, my brother?’ Ophelia asked urgently, walking towards him.
‘Ophelia, it’s our father. He is slain!’
‘No,’ she said firmly, dismissing the news as lies.
‘I’m sorry,’ Laertes lowered his head, his eyes welling with unshed tears.
‘How is this possible? Who would?’ she faltered, looking for a surface to steady herself, as the room began to swoon. ‘Who could?’ she whispered.
‘None other than that madman, Hamlet. Prince! He dares call himself. Wait ‘til I have him in my sights!’ Laertes continued.
Ophelia stared at her brother without blinking. She fell deaf to his ramblings, her empty eyes paused their seeing. Her body fell to the ground, catatonic. Inside her head a light went out. Perhaps it was hope, or sanity, or her ambitions finding their bitter end. But Ophelia now knew her life’s purpose was dead, with no salvation from where she had led it. A strange calm took over her thoughts.
Cool silence brought with it a realisation, a new purpose, one as powerful as her ambition to become royalty. The bitter thought burned from deep in her gut. Revenge. Two could play at madness. Two could end the hopes and desires of those surrounding them. But Ophelia, she would plant a seed for them all to feed off.
As Ophelia rose she had the odd desire to burst into song, hearing endless rhymes in her newly deafened state, she wished for nothing more than to share them. She would find the woman that had caused this, the one she sensed was to blame, and torture her with this recently found insanity. Ophelia decided to visit the Queen.
‘Oh! Queen that I shall not replace, give me your time, I wish to share my mind,’ Ophelia sang to herself as she wandered down the lonely corridors of her home. ‘You’ll hear me now.’ She smiled, like a Cheshire cat. It was a grin that sent the madness to her features and frightened any person that came across her wake. She was not calculating, not unless pushed.