Italian alternative Shakespeares. Carmelo Bene’s appropriation of Hamlet

Fernando Cioni


Carmelo Bene, one of the leading ‘alternative’ and avant-garde Italian actors and directors, produced his first Hamlet in 1962, which had a revival at Spoleto Festival two years later. In 1967 Bene produced Hamlet o le conseguenze della pietà filiale (Hamlet; or, the consequences of filial piety) from and by William Shakespeare. In 1973 Bene produced a film from his first production (Un Amleto di meno). In 1975 he performed another Hamlet, a sort of conflation from Shakespeare, Laforgue and himself. The performance was adapted for television in 1975 I will analyse these two productions starting from the script and the videos. Bene, after having performed other plays ‘from’ Shakespeare, such as Romeo and Juliet and Othello, came back to Hamlet in the Eighties, producing his own Hamlet, both from Laforgue and Shakespeare. It became a film with the title of Homelette for Hamlet. In the Nineties, Bene wrote another Hamlet, whose script was published in his complete dramatic works. This article will take into consideration this ‘strange encounter’ with Shakespeare, made of a sort of love and hatred. Bene himself claims that the only way to stage Shakespeare is to rewrite it. The process of rewriting and adaptation will be studied in the article, together with a close analysis of his scripts and critical essays on Shakespeare.


Shakespeare; Hamlet; Carmelo Bene; Rewriting; Appropriation;

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