By William Shakespeare.
Directed by Liz Bragg.
October 27 – November 6 2010 (It’s a wrap).
This fresh take on the classic tragedy turns Shakespeare’s gendered world on its head: Hamlet, Princess of Denmark, must avenge her mother’s murder by Queen Claudius. Take a new look at both a familiar story and our own assumptions of gender.
HAMLET is the first show of the 2010-11 Season: Women, Power and Tragedy.
“Vincent is unbelievable in this role. She might be the best Hamlet I’ve ever seen.”
“The energetic cast did a fine job with Shakespeare’s text.”
“This is an inventive and entertaining production.”
“This clever and powerful reinterpretation of a classic tragedy is the company’s inaugural production, and a good sign for things to come.”
“The Socratic Theatre Collective’s gender-reversed production spawns a great dame Dane”
- Performed October 27th to November 6th, 2010 (with a preview on October 26th).
- Hungarian Evangelical Christian Church at 8 Robert St., Toronto.
Introduction from the Director
“She’s the kind of girl who gets her slings and arrows from the dumpster/ The kind who tells you she’s bipolar just to make you trust her.”– “Dirty Business”, The Dresden Dolls
HAMLET, PRINCESS OF DENMARK started at a summer camp. I watched a very talented young woman play Hamlet, performing “To be, or not to be” and the nunnery scene, and all I could think was, “She’s trying to be male, and it’s not working. Why can’t she be a girl?”
Strangely enough, there is a tradition of female Hamlets, dating back to the Victorian era. There was even a theory that the character was really a woman in drag. A book published in the late 1800s cited Hamlet’s “feminine” behaviour as evidence of this. The implications of this theory are uncomfortable, to say the least: Hamlet simply cannot be a man, because he does not act like a man is expected to.
This idea of expectations based on gender leads to the core question of this production: What are the assumptions we make based on gender? Of course, to explore this question, I felt we had to go beyond Hamlet himself; after all, he is not the only character who has been subjected to four hundred years’ worth of gendered assumptions. Through workshops, we explored these issues, and even surprised ourselves with how deeply ingrained those assumptions can be. For me, the most telling example came when Dave Heppenstall walked into his first workshop and said, “I completely relate to Ophelia.” I think my response was, “Really?”
Yet even as we discover new sides to the characters, there is still a core to each of them that remains. Hamlet, now a young woman, is still caught in a place between adolescence and adulthood. Her struggles, and her fears, are not tied to her gender; responsibility is a scary thing, whether you’re a woman or a man. I am drawn to her because I can relate to that fear, and I suspect that, over the past four hundred years, I am not alone in feeling that way.
Cast & Crew
* appears courtesy of the Canadian Actors’ Equity Association
- Barry Bragg
- Holly Dance and First Dance Weddings
- Ellie Louson
- Bob Moosa
- Frank Zsigovics and the congregation of the Hungarian Reformed Evangelical Christian Church
- The Socratic Theatre Collective workshoppers: Chris Barry, Nicole Fairbairn, Sochi Fried, Saamphavi Ganesh and Anne Shepherd
- Catherine Bragg
- The Toronto Debating Society
- The Wool House
- Aesthetics by Tracey
- Emily’s Hair Design
- Fabric for the set has been generously provided by The Wool House.