So you read Hamlet in high school, but you probably don’t remember much other than it was long and confusing, or you didn’t get the language.
Perhaps three-and-a-half hours is a bit long, but Daniel P. Boylen, director, took the liberty of cutting about an hour-and-a half of the play. Besides the time cut, Shakespeare is a classic, and there’s a reason why audiences have loved this play for centuries.
“Shakespeare was popular at the time he wrote,” Boylen said. “And he was also very popular in the 19th century in the West.”
Even the cowboys liked Shakespeare. As Boylen notes, Shakespeare deals with how people interact, deciphering their psychology and humanness – something to which we can all relate.
While Boylen chose to cut scenes from the play, none of the lines were changed. But don’t fret if your Shakespearean English isn’t up to par, because some words were altered for the modern audience. The dialogue keeps with Shakespeare’s iambic pentameter.
“Cutting eliminates some of the characters,” Boylen said, “which puts more of the focus on Hamlet.”
As Hamlet grapples with society’s expectations of his revenge, he becomes isolated and shut off from the world. With the focus more on Hamlet, Boylen attempts to strongly suggest that perhaps it’s all in Hamlet’s mind.
Is the ghost of his father really a ghost, or is it merely a figment of his imagination? While this may not be an original speculation, Boylen’s production tries to hint at this possibility.
“Perhaps we’re in Hamlet’s mind,” Boylen said. “We hear this through his monologues.”
With this thought provoking concept, Boylen wanted to actually bring the audience into his mind.
He achieves this with a highly effective “tennis court” or “stadium” seating, in which the audience sits on both sides of the stage at Temple’s more intimate Randall Theater.
“This way most of the audience is close to the action,” Boylen said. “I want there to be a strong sense of immediacy.”
As the cast rushes to get everything in place for opening night this Thursday, director Boylen can let out a sigh of relief.
Boylen is not only chairman of Temple’s Theater Department, but also the head of the Master of Fine Arts Design Program. While the Theater Department is interviewing for faculty, Boylen has been busy juggling many hats.
Helping him get to opening night, Boylen referred to David O’Connor, a grad student in directing, as his co-director.
“David originally came on to the show as my assistant,” Boylen said.
“Since he also has a strong background in lighting I opted to ask him to assume that position as well,” he said. “In all respects David’s creative input has far exceeded what is traditionally considered the part of an assistant.”
As the actors dealt with complicated human motivations in their rehearsals, sound director Jorge Cousineau composed a completely original score to accompany the actors’ plights.
What started as an open casting call now depends on the success of three grad students, six undergrads and a team of designers who will hopefully create an intimate interaction between themselves and their audience.
Hamlet opens this Thursday, April 13, at 7 p.m. at the Randall Theater (entrance inside Annenberg Hall) and will continue to play Friday, April 14 to Saturday, April 22 (no show on Sunday) with performances at 8 p.m. and Saturday matinees at 2 p.m.
Tickets can be purchased at the Liacouras Center box office, $18 general admission and $13 for seniors, students and Temple employees. Tickets are free for students with a GAF card and can be picked up the Liacouras Center box office.
Kaitlyn Dreyling can be reached at email@example.com.