Audience favorite Griffin Stanton-Ameisen and Producing Artistic Director David Stradley spent over a year working together on HAMLET. They met recently to talk about how the production went, and they each shared some of their thoughts with DSF.
August 19, 2014
Wow, it’s been almost a month since our final performance of Hamlet, and in a lot of ways I am still reeling/processing what happened. It truly was a gift to be able to say those words along with a cast and creative team of the caliber we had. Having worked on the text and the world of the play for a year is honestly something I’ve never done before. You generally don’t have that as a possibility in most processes. I don’t think I could’ve gotten where I ended up without it, it was something special. That’s in large part to the dedication that Herr Director David Stradley had for the project. I can only hope that our production affected our audience and that they felt a visceral response/connection to the world we created and the characters in it as they spiraled through the dramatic events that make up Hamlet. That’s really what we set out to do, to explore a shifting world for a young man that makes him, takes him on a journey where he contemplates issues that everyone can relate to. And he learns things, about himself, about the world and he comes to an understanding which is very human, but also very personal. And that’s what I felt for this character personally. Til next time…
When Griffin and I talked, he mentioned that a few friends who didn’t get to see the show asked him, “What was the concept?” I noted that one generally positive review commented on the fact that the production was not marked by a broad directorial concept. These comments seemed to indicate that a clear concept (i.e., Hamlet set in 1960s South America) should be a defining quality of a production.
While we didn’t have a high-brow concept, we did have a very clear point of focus. Griffin summed it up perfectly: “Foundationally, we were focused on making a connection to the audience and community. And those two things brought out the richness of the play in a beautiful way.” It’s true! From the start, I wanted the audience to be intimately connected with Hamlet and to feel his loss in a real way. I was very gratified to see audience members getting really wrapped in the story and crying at the end – from executive chefs at fancy restaurants to a participant in our Bridge program seeing Shakespeare for the first time.
As the “I Am Hamlet” Project developed, I realized that we were involving the community in the formative stages of the Festival in a way that we had never done before. One thing I didn’t expect at all from that process is that it would bring out a focus on community in the production. I was really struck by how many characters were concerned for the well being of society as a whole (“Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”) Yes, the play is Hamlet’s journey. But it’s also the journey of a community trying to make itself better. That was beautiful to me, and I don’t think I would have seen that without the “I Am Hamlet” Project and our wonderful audience.