WCU Theatre to Present Shakespeare’s Tragedy Hamlet

Hattiesburg, Miss., October 2, 2013 - The William Carey University Theatre will present “Hamlet,” the classic Shakespearean tragedy, October 10 - 12 and 17 - 19 at 7:30 p.m. in the Joe and Virginia Tatum Theatre in Hattiesburg. “Hamlet” was adapted for a contemporary audience by Tim Matheny, chair of Carey’s department of theatre and communication. 

This adaptation is very “audience friendly in that it is written in modern English,” according to director Obra Quave, professor emeritus of theatre. “Because the modern listener is not attuned to the language of Shakespeare’s day, Tim thought this would be a good way to introduce one of history’s greatest tragedies to those who may never see it otherwise. The time-honored story, with the classic revenge tragedy plot, remains intact.”

Shakespeare incorporates most of the elements of the revenge tragedy, popularized by Thomas Kyd before “Hamlet” was written.  These features include a secret murder; the appearance of a ghost; madness, real or feigned, of a principal character; bloody violence; and the deaths of most of the major characters.

In an attempt to make it truly universal, the Carey production takes the play out of time and place. Scenery, designed by Kevar Maffitt, uses what is sometimes called neutral staging, leaving the audience’s imagination free to create its own spaces.  Likewise, Jana Barkley has designed costumes that cross time periods. The other designers, Jason Piglia (lighting), Billy Burkes (sound), Ashlyn Watts (makeup and hair), and Alisha Fishel (properties) follow the same guidelines.  All the designers are WCU students majoring in theatre.  

Hamlet (Jason Piglia of Picayune), son of the deceased king, is enraged that his uncle Claudius (Kevar Maffitt of Olive Branch) has claimed the throne and married Hamlet’s mother Queen Gertrude (Katie Hardeman of Southaven). Officers Marcellus (Xavier Martin of Hattiesburg) and Bernardo (Justin Taylor Abbott of Picayune) contact Hamlet’s friend Horatio (Joey Roderick of Blue Ridge, GA), and inform him of the appearance of the late king’s ghost. The ghost reveals that he was murdered by Claudius, thus prompting Hamlet to begin his campaign of revenge. Claudius orders Rosencrantz (Nicoli Hutchison of Carriere) and Guildenstern (Ashlyn Watts of Picayune) to spy on Hamlet. Ophelia (Miranda Rester of Oak Grove), in love with Hamlet, is warned by her father Polonius (Chris Permenter of Oak Grove) and her brother Laertes (Billy Burkes of Meridian) to avoid Hamlet, who is showing signs of insanity. What ensues is, in Hamlet’s words, “a clash between two mighty opponents,” Hamlet and Claudius. The play within a play, featuring the Player Queen (Alexandra Williams of Carriere) and the Player King (Kevin Reddick of Waveland),  is arranged by Hamlet to trap Claudius. The Gravediggers (John Tyler Robinson of Albany, LA and Reddick) supply the principal comic relief.

Dewey Douglas, assistant professor of theatre, is technical director. Assistants to the designers are Ben Salters of Ocean Springs (costumes), Chris Permenter (lighting), Nicoli Hutchison (sound), and Taylor Abbott (makeup).

Tickets are $10 for general admission, $8 for military and senior citizens, and $5 for students. Reservations can be made by calling 601-318-6221. The box office is open Monday - Friday from 1 - 4 p.m. beginning October 7.

Hamlet (Jason Piglia of Picayune) talks with Ophelia (Miranda Rester of Oak Grove) in a scene from the William Carey University Theatre production of William Shakespeare's “Hamlet.”