We conclude our 2012 season with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, helmed by internationally-renowned director Liesl Tommy, from September 19 through October 14.
Pictured, left to right: Zainab Jah as Ophelia, Dan Hiatt as Polonius, LeRoy McClain as Hamlet, Julie Eccles as Gertrude, Adrian Roberts as Claudius, and Nick Gabriel as Horatio; photo by Kevin Berne. (Click photo for larger image.)
The production features LeRoy McClain (Cassio in Othello with Philip Seymour Hoffman; Boy Willie in The Piano Lesson at Yale Rep, directed by Liesl Tommy; Broadway productions of Cymbeline and The History Boys) in the title role, with Adrian Roberts (Ruined at Berkeley Rep; First Person Shooter at SF Playhouse) as Claudius and the Ghost, and Zainab Jah (Ruined at Berkeley Rep; Drama Desk Award winner for her performance as Helen of Troy in Trojan Women for Classical Theatre of Harlem) as Ophelia. Also featured are Cal Shakes Associate Artists Julie Eccles (title role in 2011’s Candida) as Gertrude, Dan Hiatt (title role in Uncle Vanya, Newman Noggs in Nicholas Nickleby) as Polonius and the Gravedigger, and Danny Scheie (Dogberry in Much Ado About Nothing, Bottom in Midsummer Night’s Dream) as the Player King and Osric. Others in the cast include Nick Gabriel (A.C.T. core company member, last seen at Cal Shakes in Candida) as Horatio, Nicholas Pelczar (Ferdinand and Trinculo in the season-opener The Tempest) as Laertes and Luciano, Mia Tagano (last seen at Cal Shakes in Nicholas Nickleby) as the Player Queen and the Doctor, Jessica Kitchens (Elvira in Blithe Spirit) as Rosencrantz, Brian Rivera (Yellowjackets at Berkeley Rep, two seasons with SF Mime Troupe) as Guildenstern and Bernardo; and Joseph Salazar as Marcellus and others. Mr. McClain, Mr. Roberts, Ms. Jah, and Mr. Rivera are all making their Cal Shakes debuts with this production.
Widely hailed as one of the greatest plays ever written, Hamlet returns to the Cal Shakes stage for the first time in more than a decade. In discussing her vision of the production, director Tommy says, “I’m mainly interested in exploring feelings of loss and grief in my work; the idea of ancestors and their spirits are fascinating to me. In Hamlet, I’ll be able to do that by focusing on the family drama as the heart of the story. For me, this is a memory play, a haunting within a haunting; the story of this family is by turns poetic, absurd, romantic, violent, and sad. The world of the play becomes its own character; the room and the objects in it hold the secrets and memories of what took place there. In essence the structure has outlived its inhabitants and is now a haunted place.”
The design team responsible to create this haunted world are set and costume designer Clint Ramos, whose work has been seen in numerous productions throughout the U.S. including Ms. Tommy’s production of Ruined (Berkeley Rep), Party People and Measure for Measure (Oregon Shakespeare Festival), and Tony Kushner’s The Intelligent Homosexual’s Guide to Capitalism (Public Theatre); lighting designer Peter West, whose lights have graced such Cal Shakes’ productions as 2009’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and 2003’s Much Ado About Nothing, plus several productions at Shakespeare Santa Cruz, the Juilliard School, and Tanglewood Opera, among others; and sound designer and Cal Shakes Associate Artist Jake Rodriguez, creator of soundscapes for numerous Bay Area productions including Cal Shakes’ Nicholas Nickleby, Magic Theatre’s Bruja, A.C.T.’s Rock and Roll, plus the world premieres of Passing Strange, The People’s Temple, and Fetes de la Nuit at Berkeley Rep.
Internationally-renowned director Liesl Tommy made her Bay Area debut in 2010 with Lynne Nottage’s Ruined at Berkeley Rep; the production was subsequently named one of the year’s Ten Best by the San Francisco Chronicle. Recent projects include Party People (Oregon Shakespeare Festival); The White Man – A Complex Declaration of Love (DanskDansk Theatre, Denmark); Peggy Picket Sees the Face of God (Luminato Festival/Canadian Stage. Toronto); Eclipsed (Yale Rep, Woolly Mammoth Theatre Company); The Good Negro (The Public Theater, Dallas Theater Center), A History of Light (the Contemporary American Theatre Festival); Angela’s Mixtape (Synchronicity Performance Group, New Georges); A Stone’s Throw (Women’s Project); and Misterioso 119 (Berkshire Theatre Festival, Act French Festival). Ms. Tommy was awarded the NEA/TCG Directors Grant and the New York Theatre Workshop Casting/Directing Fellowship. She has taught master classes in acting, directing and new play development internationally and guest directed at Juilliard, Trinity Rep/Brown University’s MFA Directing Program, The Strasberg Institute, and NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. Ms. Tommy is a native of Cape Town, South Africa.
Hamlet plays September 19 through October 14 at the stunning outdoor Bruns Amphitheater. Get your tickets today.