Hamlet and The Laramie Project. Two totally different plays, from to totally different eras. Their styles, or "nuts and bolts" differ as much as the times they were written.
Hamlets theme is one of knowing what actions are purposeful, and which are not. How can you tell if the action you take is going to be purposeful? Who is it purposeful to? Hamlet felt the personal need to avenge his fathers death. This was not purposeful to anyone but himself; however, that purpose was enough to carry through with his plan to kill Claudius. There are many elements of the play that support this personal battle that Hamlet was out to fight. This play was all action. Each character not only spoke, but played his part for the audience. In this way, each member of the audience sees the same specific action and motive for each action. By doing this it is assured that the one meaning of the play will get through to each audience member. This holds true for the setting also. The entire scenery is spelled out for the audience. In this way people do not have to search themselves for the meaning of the play, because the actors and setting is showing it to them. Because the audience is not totally submerged in the play time is easy to distort, and this story takes place over several weeks. This elongation of time creates a building suspense that captures and holds the audience for quiet some time. However, just when we feel we cannot take anymore suspense, there is a humor break in which the audience lets its guard down, and suddenly the suspense catches you by surprise again. It is like this in the graveyard scene, and during the play, where we are ready to see if Claudius is guilty, and then you have Hamlet being witty with Ophelia, and then before you expect it everything goes crazy without Claudius storming out in a frenzy. All of these elements create a story in which the audience connects with the personal longings of Hamlet and without getting to personally involved themselves.
In complete contrast The Laramie Project is a little more vague in its elements, but that creates the need for each audience member to look inside themselves, and make up their own mind about what happened, and what it means to them. The characters in this play were quite vague. We didn'tt get a whole lot of background, so each character was just as credible as the next. Also, we never really get statements from any of the main characters such as the family, the accused, or obviously Michael. By interviewing many people we are able to get a wide sense of the character of these main characters even without interviewing them personally. We also define the people speaking not by their actions, but by how they perceived the situation and how they retold the story as they saw it. The setting was a town, however, it was more than the town. It was the organization of the citizens of the town. It was greater than the town itself, just like the meaning of what happened there. By making the audience imagine was this town is like without giving them much direction, the play is able to make the audience relate Laramie to their own town and try to imagine using images they already have in their head. By doing this it makes the audience become more involved and personally attached to what is happening. In this story it is difficult to tell the time. In fact, I felt as if there was time within time. They told a story of the town when Michael lived there, which started years before the incident took place. However the interviews done, and the way the interviews are dialogued, it is made so the book is taking place over the few days the interviewers were in Laramie. This play uses bits of humor from the interviews as a way to show the audience that the people being interviewed are as real as we are. Its a way to make them human and credible. By being able to relate to the people telling us the story, we are more willing to accept the outcome, and the message at the end. Laramie, in my mind, is a way to make people look at themselves, and find out if we are comfortable with who we are and where we come from. Yes, its a story about a young gay boy who was tortured to death because of who he was. But it ultimately asks each audience member if they are comfortable with who they are in return.
These two plays read separately are phenomenal in getting across the message they carry. Hamlet was about a purpose, and how this is significant to actions. Laramie is about being comfortable with yourself, and where you come from. Its about tolerance. I personally cannot see the same messages in these two plays, but put together, and listening to both messages makes us think about ourselves. It makes us consider how we look at things, and how we can be better so we do not end up in these situations. They are lessons that each person should learn in life.