Hamlet

Hamlet

What a beautiful experience it was working on this show with my new friends at Post5.   Everyone was engaged, excited and focused from the first day of rehearsals.  All took very seriously the challenge of creating an irresistible show.  The Hamlet that arose from our work is unlike any other I have ever witnessed; it is Hamlet as black comedy. The striking thing about this production is the amount of laughter that it generates.  That isn’t because we are making light of the story-no never- it is in large part due to Ty Boice and his comedic ability, but also because of every one actor’s search to find the humanity in Shakespeare’s words.  I believe that part of Shakespeare’s brilliance is his ability to show us how ridiculous we can be in the midst of the passion of our lives.  The irony and humor all over Shakespeare even, and most especially, in his darkest moments is undeniable.  This cast, the designers and directors embraced that humor and found so many clever, breathtaking new moments, that a Hamlet I never knew possible was created. As of this writing Hamlet is still running (until May 4th, 2014).  I know there are/were many folks who love it and there are/were some who didn’t appreciate a “funny” Hamlet-I hope you see it and decide for yourself. Here are some reviews: Oregonian , Willamette Week  , OregonArtswatch , Mercury , Portland Stage Reviews , PQ monthly  .I think we tend to hold Shakespeare on a strange pedestal-it’s as if we expect it to be boring and tedious (at least in spots), and if it isn’t –well some of us don’t know how to react to that…the most “controversial” spot in our production was the play within a play.  I allowed the actors to take it to a “Waiting For Guffman” type of style that is very funny and, for some, takes away from the seriousness they feel this moment requires-I will break down the process behind this decision and why I feel it is/was the best choice for this production.  The mission of Post5 theatre is to bring immediacy to Shakespeare and, most importantly, to prove to their peers 35 and under that Shakespeare isn’t a “dead art.”  It was late in the process, tech week, when the actors playing the Player King and Queen approached me and asked if they could try “something new” with the play within a play ("The Mousetrap").  I almost always say “yes of course” when actors ask this question; I never want to stop the flow of creativity coming from an individual.  So, that evening they created what we put into the show.  At first my reaction was “Oh god, I can’t leave that in there.”  Then I spoke to all of the designers, the whole crew, and the cast-  each person, everyone wanted to leave it.  I looked around and I realized that every designer on my team was under 35- EVERYONE.  The whole crew-under 35 and 90% of the cast-under 35…and that pretty much made up my mind. It also didn’t hurt that when I look at my watch and at that point being 75 minutes into Act One with fifteen minutes to go until intermission the audience is laughing-I like that.  The most important reason I felt the play within a play works is the fact that we see perfectly, in slow motion and well lit, Lucianus pour the poison in the ear of the Player King.  In this moment what is paramount is that we in the audience understand that Claudius now knows that his nephew Hamlet knows EXACTLY how he (Claudius) killed his brother (Hamlet’s father). This drives the rest of the play and the moment is crystal clear in this production.  In the end we set out to create a Hamlet that is sincere, passionate, but most of all absorbing. And whether or not you agreed with every choice we made-you were never bored and for me-that is a success.  Thank you to Post5 and everyone who made it to see this production.