When a play is so widely familiar and beloved as HAMLET, its beloved familiarity can become a burden to those who hold it dear as well as those who feel left outside its hallowed walls. Familiarity obstructs our individual and collective views of what else beyond our preconceptions might come of the play. The endless flood of diverse possibilities pouring out of HAMLET might be far more interesting, surprising, and entertaining than any single vision. And so all seven actors in this production learned every role. Just before curtain time each night, they lined up on stage in front of the audience and drew their roles out of Yorick's skull. They had five minutes to get dressed and then bam! Showtime!
Our aim with this production was to create – each night! – not the HAMLET, but a HAMLET that wasn't about how clever the star playing Hamlet would be with the famous lines and tropes. Rather, we hoped to share a HAMLET that embraced every one of us gathered in the theater on a given night, in all our contradictory, various, and evolving states of mind and body. Hamlet is someone's child, friend, and lover. A poet, actor, politician, philosopher, athlete, and student. Suicidal and life affirming. Prone to shortsighted decisions and uncommonly insightful observations. Why not let all these Hamlets share the stage? They were all in the house, after all!
And why not create a production of HAMLET that may likely go off the rails at any moment – just like the characters in the play do, and just like our own lives occasionally do? There is courage to be found in facing the threat of failure.
Named "Best Theater Production of 2016" by the East Bay Express: "Races, genders, orientations, and ages mix, match, and defy preconceptions... This is Hamlet as Rorschach test and roller-coaster ride in one."
A 48 Hills "Best of the Bay 2016" Editor's Pick: "The deft production transcended gimmickry with a diverse and excellent cast, giving us a completely new, completely random Hamlet every night to chew on."