Narrator 1: The king of Denmark is dead! Supposedly struck by a poisonous snake as he lay sleeping in his garden. The kind and noble king was suddenly overcome by a high fever which caused a painful and terrible death. The people of Denmark grieved for their king, but none grieved as deeply as his only son, Prince Hamlet.
Narrator 2: Hamlet was a handsome and sensitive young man. He loved his father and mother, Queen Gertrude, deeply. Although sorrowed over the death of his father, Hamlet was even more grieved when his mother married her dead husbands brother, Claudius, less than a month after her husbands death. Hamlet refused to take off his black mourning clothes saying that at least he would remember his dead father and grieve for him.
Narrator 3: The royal castle was at Elsinore on Denmarks northern coast. One bitter, winters night, not long after the funeral of the dead king, two guards stationed on the castle battlement, along with Horatio, Hamlets best friend, were about to experience a strange happening.
Scene 1: A Platform on the Wall of Elsinore Castle
(Francisco is pacing back and forth on the platform.)
Bernardo: (Entering) Halt! Whos there?
Francisco: Nay. Answer me. Stand and unfold yourself!
Bernardo: Long live the king!
Francisco: You come most carefully upon your hour.
Bernardo: Tis now struck twelve. Get thee to bed, Francisco.
Francisco: For this relief, much thanks. Tis bitter cold and I am sick at heart.
Bernardo: Have you had a quiet guard?
Francisco: Not a mouse stirring.
Bernardo: Well, good night. If you do meet Horatio and Marcellus, bid them make haste.
Francisco: I think I hear them. Stand! Who's there?
(From off stage)
Horatio: Friends to this ground.
Marcellus: And liegeman to the Dane!
Bernardo: Welcome, Horatio. Welcome, good Marcellus.
Marcellus: What? Has this thing appeared again tonight?
Bernardo: I have seen nothing.
Marcellus: Horatio says tis but our fantasy and will not believe what dreaded sight we have twice seen. I have entreated him to watch with us this night, that if this apparition come, he may believe our eyes and speak to it.
Horatio: Tush, tush. Twill not appear.
Bernardo: Sit down awhile, and let us once again tell you what we have two nights seen.
Horatio: Well, sit down, and let us hear Bernardo speak of this.
Bernardo: Last night of all, Marcellus and myself, the bell then bearing one, and...
(Enter the ghost.)
Marcellus: Peace! Break thee off! Look, where it comes again!
Bernardo: In the same figure, like the King thats dead!
Marcellus: Thou art a scholar! Speak to it, Horatio.
Bernardo: Looks it not like the king? Mark it, Horatio.
Horatio: Most like! It harrows me with fear and wonder! (Speaking to the ghost.) What art thou that seize this time of night? By heaven I charge thee, speak!
Marcellus: It is offended!
Bernardo: See! It stalks away!
Horatio: Stay! Speak! Speak...I charge thee, speak!
Marcellus: Tis gone and will not answer.
Narrator 1: The cock crows, signaling daylight, and the ghost disappears. As Marcellus, Bernardo, and Horatio discuss the frightening occurrence, they become certain that this is the ghost of the dead king.
Narrator 2: The three frightened men, still scarcely believing what they have just seen, decide to tell Lord Hamlet about the ghost. Although this apparition wont speak to them, they hope, perhaps, it will speak with its own son.
Scene 2: A Room Inside the Castle, Later That Same Morning
(Claudius and Gertrude are seated on thrones.
Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelia, and Polonius are in attendance.)
Narrator 3: Later, that same morning, King Claudius and Queen Gertrude are holding court. Hamlet is present, along with Polonius, an old courtier of Claudis, and Polonius son, Laertes. Hamlet and Laertes are the same age and have been friends since childhood. Hamlet is still wearing mourning clothes for his father, much to the irritation of Claudius and Gertrude.
Claudius: Though Hamlet still holds our dear brothers death in his memory, yet so far our discretion has fought with nature and kept us from excessive grief. And now, Laertes, whats the news with you? What is your wish, Laertes?
Laertes: Your permission to return to France from whence I came to