Image courtesy of the Sewanee’s Department of Theatre and Dance.
The weekend of October 22-24 and 28-31, Sewanee’s Department of Theatre and Dance presented a performance of Hamlet, the Shakespearean tragedy of the Prince of Denmark. With a sold out opening night, the show was riveting and beautifully performed by the entire cast and crew.
When walking into Proctor Hill Theatre in the Tennessee Williams Center, one finds themself in a dark hallway that suddenly opens up onto the stage. The theatre seating is on one side of the room, but the stage is level with the seating, immersing the audience in the experience.
As the lights dim and the crowd quiets, the feeling of anticipation is palpable with the shuffling of programs being set aside the only sound. Suddenly, the music begins and the show commences. The first act of the play is 90 minutes long followed by a 10 minute intermission and an 85 minute second act. To some this may seem quite a large time commitment, but it is worth every second.
The students performing have been hard at work for months creating this emotional production of the well known tragedy. Dakota Collins (C’22), has been preparing since this past semester for his title role. He embodies the many layers of Hamlet and allows us to know the character by skillfully portraying each aspect of his person without losing any cohesiveness. Kristopher Kennedy (C’23) as the long-winded and scheming Polonius was incredible and left the audience giggling with every line. Allie Dent (C’23) as Ophelia was beautiful and tragic with her moving portrayal of a woman driven to madness with grief. Jackson Harwell (C’22) as Laertes was powerful yet still managed to provoke laughs from the audience. His fight scene with Hamlet was excellently choreographed and even more brilliantly executed.
Throughout the show, the audience is given the opportunity to experience some of Shakespeare’s most famous lines delivered stunningly by the cast. Lines such as “A little more than kin and less than kind” and “To be, or not to be” are immediately recognizable. The performers captivate the audience with breathtaking emotion and talent.
Behind the scenes, students working in lighting, set, and costumes are the creators of this world that we are able to see so vividly. The dark, medieval Elsinore Castle animated by ghostly apparitions perfectly compliments Collins’ brooding Hamlet. The crew works hard to not only bring the story to life but to engage the audience as part of the story. The set wraps around to the edge of the seats and lighting connects us with the actors, now in the story ourselves.
Overall, the tragedy, directed by Professor Jim Crawford, was a Sewanee masterpiece and a must see for anyone interested or not in the arts. Whether an avid Shakespeare fan, or someone who has never read a single play, Hamlet offers something for everyone.