We came in at 2 hours 6 minutes! That's a world-class marathon time... and, a pretty comfortable time for the first read-through of Hamlet. The actors gathered this past Saturday for the first time as an ensemble as we embark upon producing what is proclaimed by some as "the greatest play in the English language." No pressure.
As directors, we shared a bit about our design inspiration. We don't plan to "overlay" the play with any particular time period or setting. We really want the story to speak for itself. I mean, there's love, murder, betrayal, revenge, and whole lot of action packed in it. Putting an artificial layer on the piece like the roaring twenties or 1970s Berkely felt counter-productive to our story-telling. Instead, we are focused on the timeless themes. In that spirit, we've been inspired by an array of things that span centuries.
I've been doing quite a bit of research on the current Danish royal family. Admittedly, I didn't even know they existed before embarking on this project. The Danish monarchy claims to be the oldest in Europe with a history dating back to the Ninth Century. Modern royals embody this idea of old plus new. While they very much are a product of and living example of tradition, they also navigate a modern political system and modern media. The Danish family enjoys particlularly high approval ratings in Denmark, despite the typical family scandals that pop up now and again. That stylish blend of new and old is where we'd like our design to land.
The set--always a massive challenge due to the free Central Park shows--will need to be mobile, fit both on the Central Park and CST stages, and serve the multiple locations called for in the play. Perusing photos of the Danish palaces (take a look here), the strong clean, lines stuck with me. I then began to look at modern, "functional" Danish architecture and came across photos of the Great Belt Bridge that connects two islands in Denmark. Again, there were those clean lines and a feeling of strength. This imagery has lead us to our scenic design. I chuckle as I write this because, in the end, the design looks nothing like either of those structures, but it embodies strength and functionality with a bit of royal style.
We'll reveal more about the production design later as we finalize materials. It's quite a process and I'm thrilled to finally be in the thick of it.
-Traci Brant, Director and Artistic Chair