All posts tagged: To Be Or Not To Be

Skount “To Be Or Not To Be”, Sarah Bernhardt & James Lafayette

Skount “To Be Or Not To Be”, Sarah Bernhardt & James Lafayette

Skount is debating whether to be or not in this adaptation of a hundred plus year old photo of Sarah Bernhardt, who holds the court jester Yorick’s skull in hand. A grave contemplation of suicide that leads the Hamlet character to contemplate the great leveling force of death on all stations and classes, this particular depicting of Shakespeare has had a profound effect on Skount.


Skount. Würzburg, Germany. July 2015. (photo © Skount)

“This photo has always been poetic for me since I first saw it,” he says, “I see in the photo a woman with a really special life that is intense, hard, full of difficulties and now finally a satisfactory life,” he says of the James Lafayette photograph that was possibly taken at the turn of the 20th century.

“To be or not to be,” is perhaps the most noted excerpt from the play and is

also the title of Skounts’ mural for Street Meet at Mainfranken Theater in Würzburg, Germany. See below the original photograph and the artists’ initial sketch for the wall.


Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet. (public domain, James Lafayette)


Skount. Würzburg, Germany. July 2015. (photo © Skount)

HAMLET: To be, or not to be–that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
And by opposing end them.
To die, to sleep–No more–and by a sleep to say we end
The heartache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to. ‘Tis a consummation Devoutly to be wished.
To die, to sleep–To sleep–perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub,


Skount. Würzburg, Germany. July 2015. (photo © Skount)


Skount’s original sketch for the mural (© Skount)


Skount. Würzburg, Germany. July 2015. (photo © Skount)

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