Hamlet is a work that stands tall, even among the many legendary plays of Shakespeare. It is a tale of revenge, madness, love, betrayal, life and death that has captivated many since its release in the early 17th century. This semester, the (arguably) most renowned work of the English language’s greatest playwright is being performed here at Eastern University.
I had the great pleasure to speak to the director of this production, Anna Rebmann. Rebmann summarizes the play in this way: “‘Hamlet’ is about a young man trying to do the right thing with all kinds of obstacles in his way, including even the obstacle of his own heart. When his father gives him the challenge of achieving justice … Hamlet basically shows that how you pursue your objective matters as much as what the objective is … along the way, it becomes more about revenge than justice.
“‘Hamlet’ is a wonderful example of Shakespeare’s work; it has all of his tragic elements, mistaken identity, and a central character who is relatable but flawed. It has some really wonderful comedy in it.” Ms. Rebmann says that it is a wonderful play to put on at a college because “it has so many wonderful supporting characters [that provide] great opportunities for college students to get some extra acting experience and to shine in their roles … We have a really amazing team of student actors, and I really love watching student actors grow into the parts.”
The cast for the upcoming production stars Amari Dickerson as Hamlet, Caroline Herrick as Ophelia, Ethan Goondewardene as Claudius and Hamlet Sr, Payge Shaw as Gertrude, Aniya Sanchez as Polonius, Richie Izzo as Laertes, Megan Odland as Rosencrantz, Morgan Fitch as Guildenstern, Caroline Herring as Horatio and a host of other talent in the ensemble and stage management. Being among the amazing actors for this show, I have been genuinely impressed by their abilities and growth, even with just a few weeks of rehearsal under our belts.
Ms. Rebmann’s directorial style and vision will undoubtedly shine through the finished product. Rebmann told me, “I fell in love with telling stories when I was around seven … When I was about eleven, I saw a production of ‘Hamlet’ come through, and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, adults do this for a job. I want this job.’ I went to college to study theatre, went to grad school to study acting, after grad school I continued to act and do stage combat choreography, and I also started to do more directing. I actually assistant directed ‘Hamlet’ for a professional company in Maryland some years ago.”
This will not be a simple, low-effort production of “Hamlet.” Director Rebmann has taken the effort to add some new ideas and elements to her interpretation of the play, most notably, placing it in a modern setting, and the addition of “living statues.” These statues of Hamlet’s ancestors “visually represent his emotions and inner turmoil during his monologues. They gradually leave him during the course of the show as Hamlet departs the honorable pattern they set,” according to Rebmann.
Ms. Rebmann concluded our interview by saying, “Come see the show. It’s a very nippy adaptation. If you do all of the text of ‘Hamlet,’ it runs three and a half hours … but we’ve cut it down to under two hours… The language is beautiful, and it’s always a delight to be in a space with other people for a live performance. So, treat yourself, and come see a show.” The show will be performed on November 10- 11 at 7 p.m, and on November 12 at 2 p.m. I know that I, for one, am looking forward to it.