By Sara Stanley
William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” has been performed for more than 400 years, but performers at Western Carolina University say it has never been done quite like this.
WCU’s School of Stage and Screen takes the stage to perform a revamped version of “Hamlet” today (Thursday), Friday and Saturday in the Bardo Arts Center Josephina Niggli Studio Theatre. Performances today and Friday start at 7:30 p.m., and the show on Saturday show starts at 3:30 p.m. Tickets start at $10 and can be purchased online or at the box-office on the performance day.
The dean of the Belcher College of Fine and Performing Arts, George Brown, is adapting and directing this classic production to enhance the madness that the character Hamlet traditionally exudes.
“This adaptation is heavily infused with media, live camera work, sounds and lighting,” he said. “The idea behind this is to ask the question, ‘What if Hamlet was actually mad?’ The technology becomes a storytelling tool that allows us to explore that idea even further.”
To show the variance of madness, each performance will start off with an all-female cast acting out Tom Stoppard’s “15-Minute Hamlet.”
“I think the audience will laugh at the ‘15-minute Hamlet,’ and they will cry at the right moments within the complexity of the longer ‘Hamlet,’” Brown said.
Ryan Albinus, senior musical theatre major at WCU, is cast to play Hamlet in the adapted, longer version.
“This role means a lot to me, because I think that any actor playing Hamlet needs to understand the character on a deeply personal level,” he said. “So, when I’m playing Hamlet, I am unleashing the most extreme, most elaborate version of myself, and it feels nice.”
Albinus added that he hopes the multi-media elements of the performance will “enhance audience understanding and allow them to be moved by the raw emotion.”
Brown explained that within the adaptation, they are “playing with the idea of subjective reality and nightmare” to establish the idea that everyone around Hamlet is a figure of his madness.
“Ultimately, when the audience walks away from the performance, I want them to understand that this is a laboratory,” he said. “Just like a scientist needs to experiment and play with their materials to make new discoveries, so do artists.”
Stanley is a News II student at Western Carolina University.