Leslie and Hamlet

Those of us who are acting in this production all agree that the most striking manifestation in connection with it is the way in which it is received by all ordinary members of the audience who come in looking for entertainment, most of whom have never seen ‘Hamlet’ before. Young and old, especially young, have given evidence of their astonishment at the vitality and reality of what they have seen and they depart with a comforting feeling that for once they have completely understood Shakespeare and have been moved and excited by him. They have been at great pains to let us know this, after the performances at the stage door and by their innumerable letters. We beg to thank them.

Leslie Howard (in a curtain speech)

…For myself, in order to find a way of approach to the problem, I have gone to Shakespeare as one man of the theatre to another. I have tried to understand the methods of his craftsmanship and the conditions under which he worked. I have been governed by a spirit of reasonable humility, but not of slavish reverence. I have had the nerve to consider the two of us co-workers in a theatrical enterprise and have tried to forget that my partner is separated from me by over three hundred years of time and ringing fame. …

Leslie Howard (Stage magazine, 1936)

Leslie Howard as Hamlet, 1936