School of the Arts closes season with ‘Hamlet’
Tigerville, SC (April 8, 2021) The North Greenville University (NGU) School of the Arts will present William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” on the Billingsley Theatre stage in April to close out its 2020-2021 theatre season.
“The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark,” often shortened to “Hamlet,” is a tragedy written by William Shakespeare sometime between 1599 and 1601. Set in Denmark, the play depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle, Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet’s father to seize his throne and marry Hamlet’s mother.
“Hamlet” is considered among the most powerful and influential works of world literature, with a story capable of “seemingly endless retelling and adaptation by others.” It was one of Shakespeare’s most popular works during his lifetime and still ranks among his most-performed, topping the Royal Shakespeare Company’s performance list and its predecessors in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1879. It has inspired many other writers—from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Charles Dickens to James Joyce and Iris Murdoch—and described as “the world’s most filmed story after Cinderella.”
Abby Gilbert, a senior musical theatre major, is cast in Hamlet’s role, a character typically portrayed by a male.
“Casting Hamlet as female created an additional challenge when looking at the role of Ophelia, so Abby and I worked together to develop the idea of Ophelia as a mirror image of the dark side of Hamlet. Once that idea clicked into place, many of the design elements came together as well,” said Associate Dean of the Arts, Director, and Sound Designer Amy Dunlap.
The set’s central focus is a large mirror, representing both the mirror nature of Hamlet and Ophelia, but the show’s main theme – “holding a mirror up to nature” to find out what is true and what is only a dream.
“We’ve woven together other elements from the Nordic culture in the show – the aesthetic of the costumes and makeup in particular. We’re even incorporating the Swedish herding call called ‘kulning’ into some of the abstract movement sections of the show,” Dunlap said. “In short, this is a poetic reimagining of Hamlet, richly layered with symbolism. We feel that even if the audience doesn’t completely understand everything that’s happening intellectually, they will come away with an enriching experience.”
In her final role with the School of the Arts before graduating in April, Gilbert says that even though Hamlet’s role is challenging, it is gratifying.
“So far, it has been extremely rewarding through the intense memorization and sharpening of my Shakespearean language understanding. I am so excited to see it blossom fully and am also honored to bring my femininity into a role that a male typically portrays,” Gilbert said.
She said her goal is to bring her authentic truth and self into a role that has been portrayed by thousands of incredible and “far more qualified” artists before her.
Other team members include Cheyenne Veach as Ophelia, John Genova as Claudius, Abigail Dover as Gertrude, Jacob Jones as Horatio, Wyatt Duncan as Polonius, Rachel Gasdia as Marcellus and Rosencrantz, Adam Jones as Laertes, and Veronica Rogers as Barnardo and Guildenstern. Kara Hayes will play Francisco and Messenger’s roles, Kale Morse as Gravedigger One, Lydia Kytle as Gravedigger Two, Michael Thomas as Hamlet’s father’s Ghost, and Ashleigh Moore as Viking Singing and Music Coach.
Set and Lighting Design by Jamison Rhoad; Costume Design, Cyndi Lorhmann, and Wyatt Duncan; Sound Design, Amy Dunlap; Stage Manager, Sarah Parker Martin; Assistant Stage Manager, Caitlin Boisture; Fight Director, Ben Porch; Props, Kale Morse.
Hamlet runs Apr. 15-17 and Apr. 22-24. Tickets are on sale now in the Billingsley Theatre Box Office or online. Cost is $5 for students, $12 for adults, and $17 for premium tickets. Social distancing and mask guidelines will be required to protect the health and safety of those in attendance.
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