Season Selects: Hamlet

Posted April 6, 2022

Hamlet Blog

Choosing which plays to see in a season is always a tough decision. And we're here to help! This week, we'll take a look at one of the all time great Shakespearean tragedies, Hamlet, directed by APT Core Company Member James DeVita. 


By William Shakespeare

Directed by James DeVita

Fast Facts:

Playing: Hill Theatre | June 24 - October 8
Featuring: Featuring Nate Burger as Hamlet. Also featuring Kelsey Brennan, David Daniel, Alys Dickerson, Jamal James, Chiké Johnson, Colleen Madden & Triney Sandoval.
Genre: Shakespeare Tragedy / Period Drama
Go If You Liked: Macbeth (2019), Romeo and Juliet (2014); King Richard III (2012).
Last at APT: 2013

About the Play

Shakespearean tales tend toward the grand, featuring royals whose every impulse impacts a kingdom. Yet within the magnum opus that is Hamlet, there is, simply, Hamlet. A prince, yes, bearing the full weight of that heavy title. But a young man all the same, caught in a net of indecision, and struggling with grief. With familial turmoil and first love’s feathered touch. With his own aspirations and doubts. But doubt is a sharp and splintered bone that can pierce the hearts of those who stray too close, regardless of whether they’re friend or foe. A literary masterpiece both grandiose and human; one of the all-time greats on our humble Hill stage.

This week's Season Select is about Hamlet - that great Shakespearean masterpiece, which is also the play you are most likely to be familiar with. So instead of telling you about the play this week, we thought we’d share five little-known facts about one of the Bard’s best-known plays.

  1. Hamlet is the longest play in Shakespeare’s portfolio, with 4,042 lines and 29,552 words. Uncut, the run time is about 5 hours (one of the most relatable arguments for a little judicious trimming in this, and all, Shakespeare plays). Even so, it’s the most frequently produced (it’s been estimated that a performance of this play begins every minute of every day). Which speaks pretty highly of the play’s staying power.
  2. As mentioned in the link above, Hamlet has been translated into approximately 80 languages, including Klingon.
  3. Arguably the play's most famous line “To be or not to be: that is the question” was revised from the first draft. In the first Quarto, published in 1603 and sometimes referred to as the “bad quarto,” it read “To be or not to be: I there’s the point” and it appeared in a different scene in the play. [Editor’s note: the I is meant to be read as “ay”]
  4. Hamlet offers something many tragedies don’t – a sly and persistent sense of humor. Why is it important, outside of lightening the mood? Some experts argue that it proves the Danish prince’s sanity.
  5. For obvious reasons, many actors playing Hamlet consider it a pinnacle of their careers. The role, originated by (of course) Richard Burbage, has been played by many prestigious actors, including Kenneth Branagh, Maxine Peake, David Tennant, Sir Laurence Olivier, Richard Burton (the longest-running Hamlet on Broadway), Paapa Essiedu and Ethan Hawke. Even with all that star power in the role, the only actor ever to win a Tony Award for playing Hamlet was Ralph Fiennes in 1995.

Artistic Director Brenda DeVita says:

Hamlet is one of those plays that we can see again and again, each time with new eyes and a new perspective. The heat of youth, or the clarity of experience – every subsequent production points us, as audience members, towards something completely novel. And at the same time, it’s a universal story. Who hasn’t at some point in their lives questioned our parents’ intentions? Or whether we can trust a friend’s actions? Or whether we can even trust our own internal passions and misgivings? And we see these larger-than-life royal characters distilled down to their essences: son, mother, friend, lover – each with their own specific flaws. Yet they’re all trying in their own, sometimes misled or self-serving ways, to help Hamlet come to terms with the loss of his father. But, as we know, good intentions don’t necessarily equal good outcomes, and each bad outcome weighs on his head. And I know that may sound a little heavy, but this cast is fully equipped to coax out the love, and the friendship, and the bonds that make this play so powerful. We are incredibly fortunate to have this cast on board: Nate Burger, who is playing Hamlet, and who invests his whole heart in every role he plays. And Kelsey Brennan, who is like his best friend, playing his best friend, Horatio. And Alys Dickerson as Ophelia and Jamal James as Laertes, also great friends, playing brother and sister, with Chiké Johnson as Polonius, their father. And Colleen Madden and Triney Sandoval as Gertrude and Claudius. Talk about a power couple. It’s going to be all the things: funny, and touching, and scary, and dangerous, and romantic. And just deeply, deeply human. That’s why we see it.