Throughout the 19th century, Hamlet rarely encountered Claudius at prayer: actors and audience in the age of melodrama couldn’t abide the idea that a hero, even one pledged to revenge, would consider stabbing someone, even the villain, in the back. Stabbing someone through a tapestry was fine, however.
by Walter Bilderback
Hamlet is almost always cut for performance. What people read in school runs about 4 1/2 hours uncut - and that “complete” Hamlet is actually something created by editors in the 18th century, who saw the First Folio (1623) and what we now call the Second Quarto (1604) as imperfect representations of what Shakespeare “really” meant to write, and tried to create their ideal. Each version has unique passages, and only around 200 lines out of nearly 4,000 are identical in the two versions. This has given editors 300 years to put their own interpretation on the play, hoping to channel Shakespeare’s intent.
Check out these behind-the-scenes images of the set for Hamlet!
Our crew and design team is hard at work to create Hamlet's Denmark on the Wilma's stage. As you'll see in the pics, our design, envisioned by Matt Saunders, incorporates various elements of Street Art, like wheatpasting and graffiti. We are proud to work with Philadelphia-based Street Artist CERA on the creation of our set. The lettering you see is done by Juan Deminda.
CERA is a street artist currently based out of Philadelphia. He received his BFA from the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design in 2012 with an emphasis in printmaking. After graduating, CERA pursued opportunities for working out east. He has exhibited work on and off the street in Milwaukee, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia and Seoul. This is his first experience working as a part of a set design team.
Check out a few of the costume design sketches by Hamlet Costume Designer Vasilija Zivanic!
Vasilija Zivanic (Vasi) is a recipient of the Kahn Career Award for Exceptional Talent, Ms. Zivanic’s credentials include Leaving by Václav Havel (The Wilma Theater), The Daughters of the Mood (Edinburgh Festival), Cosi Fan Tutte (Huntington Theatre), Venus, Necessary Targets, Godspell, La Lorona (The Beckett Theatre, NYC), and The Magic Flute; fabric painter for leading New York studio Parson Meares on Broadway including The Lion King, Wicked, Spamalot, Dracula, and Disney’s Finding Nemo, Monsters, Inc., and Aladdin. Ms. Zivanic works as a fashion designer and illustrator for various clients in the US and Europe. She is Professor at Parsons and FIT in NYC. Some of her work is published in The Big Book of Contemporary Illustration by M. Dawber and Fashion Drawing by M. Bryan.
Hamlet is most likely the best-known play in the world - it is certainly one of the most performed, filmed, quoted, and written about. Thinkers including Hegel, Marx, and Freud have drawn upon it in developing their theories. The play’s influence is so widespread some consider its title character, along with his contemporaries Faust, Don Juan, and Don Quixote, to have the status of a myth.
The Wilma’s productions of Hamlet and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead demonstrate Blanka Zizka’s evolving vision to create work around a company of artists, incorporating training and ensemble building to further develop the talents of the Philadelphia acting community. Prior to the commencement of formal rehearsal, company members were involved in training and workshops. NOW the company has come together to start their work on Shakespeare's greatest work, Hamlet.
Here are some shots from the rehearsal room!