ALL-FEMALE CAST PUTS NEW SPIN ON HAMLET
"Hamlet was hijacked sometime after the Restoration as a vehicle for leading men to deliver oratorical set-speeches," says resident dramaturge Steve Roth of Animus Theatre Project. "That ghost continues to haunt almost every production of the play--or at least the dozens of productions I've seen."
Now director Ryan Brown, working with an all-female cast led by Erica Chiles-Curnutte as Hamlet, is using that gender inversion to bring to the modern stage a tension, power, complexity, and humor that has rarely been seen since the days of the original Globe Theatre.
"One of the ongoing debates surrounding Hamlet centers around the title character's age. Most productions choose to ignore the vast amount of references within the text that peg Hamlet as a teenage boy. People have accepted the 'leading man' take on the character as gospel," states Brown. "Challenging that orthodoxy poses a real problem for a director; one would be hard-pressed to find a teenage boy with the emotional breadth and acting ability to fully portray the character. Presenting Hamlet as an older man strips the character--and the play--of the depth, humor and intensity that exists within the text."
Brown goes on to comment that, "This was the jumping-off point for Animus's decision to go with an all-female cast. A woman in her mid to late twenties has the emotional depth and technique needed to pull off the role, while still maintaining a quality of youthfulness. In approaching Hamlet as a teenage boy, his real character emerges almost naturally--a wildly changeable, emotionally driven, but painfully intelligent and articulate youth in an impossible situation where only he (and Claudius) knows that a murder has occurred. That adolescent character informs every other aspect of the play."
"An all-female cast also sheds new light on the male/female dynamics within the play," states Roth. "As one small example, with Laertes played by a woman (Anne Kennedy), his farewell to Ophelia is more touching, and has a different complexity than in other productions I've seen."
"By combining these insights with the emotional power that an all-female cast provides, we're pulling together a production that I hope will give people a whole new--or maybe I should say old--view of the play," states Brown.
East Hall Theatre
1529 10th Ave
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