At 7:30 p.m., Wednesday, Apr. 5, The Matthews welcomes back the National Players Touring Theater for their presentation of the Shakespeare classic, “Hamlet.” This show replaces the Mother King concert in our 2016-17 Subscription Series. All current subscribers already have their seats for this show. This is the fourth event of our 2016-17 Subscription Series. Individual tickets are $25 adults, $10 youth & BHSU students.
Currently a program of Olney Theatre Center in Maryland, National Players has earned a unique name and place in American theater history. Over the last 68 years, the acting company has performed in the East Wing of the White House; in Europe, Asia and the Middle East for American military; and throughout 40 states.
The most famous of William Shakespeare’s plays, Hamlet has been labeled the most perfect revenge tragedy ever written. A “revenge tragedy” is defined as a drama in which the dominant motive of the main character is revenge for a real or imagined injury carried throughout the entire story. While the quest for revenge can simultaneously be a quest for order and balance, tragic events disrupt the existing order and balance—from the moment that Hamlet’s father appears to him in his ghostly form, chaos is inevitable.
Thomas Kyd, not Shakespeare, established the specific revenge tragedy genre in 1587 when his popular play Spanish Tragedy took the stage by storm. He perfected the structure of middle and final climaxes within the narrative and composed a psychological profile of the protagonist Hieronimo that many scholars believe paved the way for Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Hamlet’s desire to avenge his father’s death is the quintessential literary example of someone taking revenge.
Hamlet, the (very) Short Version
In “Hamlet,” the prince of Denmark returns home from school to find his family life in ruins – his father dead, his mother remarried and his uncle (now stepfather) ruling the country. When his father’s ghost appears with dire announcements, Hamlet struggles to redefine his life and find his way forward.
Jason King Jones, artistic director of National Players, directs his ninth production for the company with “Hamlet.” It also marks the first time in 32 years that National Players has produced Shakespeare’s most prolific play. Scroll down for the detailed version.
Kenn Hopkins Jr.
Claire Allegra Taylor
HAMLET: Scenes and Locations
Scene i: A platform before Elsinore castle
Scene ii: A room of state in the castle
Scene iii: A room in Polonius’ house
Scene iv: The platform
Scene v: Another part of the platform
Scene i: A room in Polonius’ house
Scene ii: A room in the castle
Scene i: A room in the castle
Scene ii: A hall in the castle
Scene iii: A room in the castle
Scene iv: The Queen’s closet
Scene i: Another part of the castle
Scene ii: A plain in Denmark
Scene iii: A room in Elsinore castle
Scene iv: Another room in the castle
Scene v: Another room in the castle
Scene i: A churchyard
Scene ii: A hall in the castle
Hamlet, the long version
Bernardo, a guardsman, tells of the recently deceased king’s ghost seen the last few nights. The ghost reappears, and after it departs, Horatio (a friend of Hamlet’s) says that Fortinbras, the prince of Norway, is determined to recover lands previously lost to Denmark.
Prince Hamlet enters, disapproving of his mother’s hasty marriage to his father’s brother Claudius. After some court speeches, Horatio arrives and tells Hamlet about his father’s ghost. Hamlet seeks the ghost and learns from it that Claudius poisoned his father. The ghost charges Hamlet to avenge his murder. Meanwhile, as Laertes prepares to leave Denmark, he tells his sister Ophelia to be careful about her relationship with Hamlet. Their father Polonius, an adviser to King Claudius, agrees.
Hamlet acts insane to learn about the conspirators to his father’s murder. This frightens Ophelia and startles Gertrude (the queen) and Claudius. They send for Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Hamlet’s school friends) to help. The company (and Polonius) eavesdrop on Hamlet’s contemplations of suicide and stage an encounter between him and Ophelia. Hamlet tells her to quit court and join a convent, sharply ending their relationship.
A traveling theatre company arrives and Hamlet applauds them, then asks them to perform “The Mousetrap,” in which a king poisons his brother and marries his wife. When Claudius gets upset at the performance, Hamlet takes this as proof of Claudius’ guilt. Later, finding Claudius at prayer, Hamlet considers killing him, but decides against it. Hamlet goes to speak with Gertrude where he stabs and kills an eavesdropping Polonius. Claudius sends Hamlet to England with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
Ophelia goes insane after Hamlet leaves, Laertes returns to avenge his father’s death, and Horatio receives a letter from Hamlet detailing his escape onto a pirate’s ship bound for Denmark. Claudius and Laertes conspire to kill Hamlet upon return. Gertrude arrives and reveals that Ophelia has drowned, and Laertes storms off. When Hamlet returns, he walks through the graveyard with Horatio and grieves for Ophelia. Laertes and Hamlet brawl, then return to the palace for a duel.
Laertes’s uses a poisoned rapier, and Claudius offers poisoned wine to Hamlet. Hamlet is winning the duel, but Laertes cheats to nick Hamlet with his rapier. Hamlet steals the rapier and stabs Laertes, both now poisoned. Oblivious, Gertrude drinks the poisoned wine and dies. Dying, Laertes tells Hamlet that Claudius is to blame for all. Hamlet forces Claudius to drink the rest of the poisoned wine. Amidst the death, Hamlet asks Horatio to tell his story, then dies. Prince Fortinbras storms the court, reveals that Rosencrantz and Guildenstern have been killed, and takes command of Denmark.
National Players is a program of Olney Theatre Center and is made possible by support from the Arts and Humanities Council of Montgomery County, the Maryland State Department of Education, and the Maryland State Arts Council.
Who are the National Players?
With its self-sufficient approach to theatre-making, National Players delivers full-length performances at affordable rates. Its productions engage audiences and examine the intersection between great works of literature and contemporary life. Committed to excellence and accessibility, National Players makes the classics current.
National Players was founded in 1949 by Father Gilbert V. Hartke, OP, a prominent arts educator and then head of the drama department at Catholic University of America. His mission—to stimulate young people’s higher thinking skills and imaginations by presenting classical plays in surprisingly accessible ways—is as urgent and vital today as it was sixty-four years ago.
Olney Theatre Center is proud to be the artistic home of National Players and to continue Father Hartke’s vision and commitment to provide young theatre artists with their first professional opportunities. Players’ alumni include actors, directors, and designers working on film, television, and hundreds of stages across America.
National Players has performed in the East Wing of the White House, in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East for American military, and throughout forty states. Known for its talent and commitment to excellence, National Players has brought literature to life for more than 2.5 million audience members.
National Players offers an exemplary lesson in collaboration and teamwork-in-action: the actors not only play multiple roles onstage, but also serve as managers, teaching artists, and technicians. A self-contained company, National Players carries its own sets, lights, costumes, and sound. Being a Player is a rigorous and thrilling experience, granting young performers the touring opportunity of a lifetime, the chance at several lifelong friendships, and a wealth of audiences across America looking for theatre, Shakespeare, and good company.
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