Which of Shakespeare's plays is your favorite?
Ken Adelman is currently vice-president of Movers and Shakespeares, which conducts executive training through leadership lessons from Shakespeare. Ambassador Adelman began teaching Shakespeare in 1977 at Georgetown University, and later with honors students at George Washington University.
During the Reagan Administration, Ken Adelman was an Ambassador to the United Nations and then Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, accompanying President Reagan on his superpower summits with Mikhail Gorbachev.
Adelman was a philosophy major at Grinnell College and then attended Georgetown University, where he received a Masters in Foreign Service Studies and Doctorate in Political Theory.
He is the author of five books -- including co-author of Shakespeare in Charge -- and hundreds of articles, was for 20 years national editor of Washingtonian magazine, and for six years a member of the Defense Policy Board.
While living in Africa from 1972 to 1975, Adelman translated for Mohammed Ali during “The Rumble in the Jungle” heavyweight championship fight in Zaire, and participated in the Zaire River Expedition, venturing down the Congo River on the 100th Anniversary of Stanley’s exploration.
Ken Adelman: Well I'm asked that all the time. And it's generally the play I'm about to go see. But in terms of intellect, no doubt it’s Hamlet. Hamlet is a mystery. And every year or so, I read two or three books about Hamlet. Between 1890 and 1920, there were 2,700 articles and books written only about Hamlet, okay? And then after World War II, there was an explosion of Hamlet scholarship and . . . because a disciple of Freud actually, Earnest Jones, wrote a book about how Hamlet really suffered from the edifice conflict. So there’s all kinds of new stuff on Hamlet. So to figure out what happens in Hamlet, how it works, is unending possibilities, okay? So every time I see Hamlet . . . I just saw Hamlet two weeks ago for probably the 25th time on the stage, and I’ve taught it for whole semesters in graduate school. Every time I see it, there’s a new question that comes up, and a new relationship I didn’t see before. So in terms of intellect, do you want a high step workout for what’s going on here, what happens in Hamlet? And on one level it’s very simple. That’s why 14 year old kids can see Glenn Close and . . . what’s that Australian actor doing Hamlet in a movie? And so . . . Mel Gibson. That's right. And they can understand very easily what . . . On one level, the plot of Hamlet is a simple lot. And . . . but still you can see it, and teach it, and feel it, and watch it . . . You know, I've been obsessed with Hamlet now for 30 years, and really there's mysteries in that. There's things that you never saw before. There’s new stuff to learn from. So I think for the next 30 years, my journey of Hamlet will continue, I bet. So in terms of intellect, there is nothing like Hamlet. It's the biggest workout in the world. In terms of emotion, there's nothing like King Lear. I mean the scenes in King Lear just rip you apart. And it's . . . I have seen four live King Lear versions this year. Next month in Utah we're gonna see the fifth. And then I'm gonna go to Brooklyn in September and see Ian Maclaren, who is sensational doing King Lear. And I saw Kevin Cline earlier this year. And Denver School of Performing Center, and was on the two-day panel of King Lear. And so in terms of emotion, there’s no phenomenon like King Lear.
Recorded on: 7/2/07
Adelman loves "Hamlet" for its simplicity and depth, though tthere's nothing quite like "King Lear."
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