BRYANT PARK INAUGURATED
A NEW SHAKESPEARE PROGRAM WITH THE DRILLING COMPANY'S SHAKESPEARE IN
THE PARKING LOT PRODUCTION OF "HAMLET" MAY 15-31, 2014.
This was the Drilling Company's first
production of a Shakespeare play
Bryant Park Corporation and The Drilling Company's Shakespeare in the Parking Lot presented "Hamlet" in Bryant Park May 15 to 31, 2014. It was Bryant Park's first Shakespeare production and The Drilling Company's first Shakespeare production outside the municipal parking lot at the corner of Ludlow and Broome Streets, where its intrepid, bare-boned productions had become a New York tradition.
When The Drilling Company was invited by the Bryant Park Corporation to inaugurate a new Shakespeare program for Bryant Park, TDC's Artistic Director, Hamilton Clancy, selected his company's production of "Hamlet," which was a Lower East Side hit when presented in the Parking Lot by The Drilling Company in 2011. In an unusual interpretation, the production is meant to illuminate the modern dysfunctional family unit.
Clancy was intrigued with moving a production that was done in the "decidedly uncorporate" atmosphere of a Lower East Side parking lot to the "very heart of corporate America" in Midtown Manhattan. He said, "So much within the play is about honor and revenge, which we see being played out on a daily basis in the interworkings of our economy and culture." The move uptown also presented an opportunity for the production to grow because of the difference in venues. Clancy observed, "The 'personality' of the parking lot is quite different from that of Bryant Park, where it's not only a green oasis and historic, but it is one of the world's busiest public spaces." Returning actors of the 2011 production included Alessandro Colla as Hamlet, Karla Hendrick as Gertrude and Amanda Dillard as Ophelia. Hamilton Clancy directed.
The production viewed Hamlet's family as dysfunctional in a modern sense. Gertrude is an alcoholic mother; Ophelia is manic depressive; Claudius is overworked, power-obsessed and success oriented. Everyone but Hamlet and Horatio are suffering from one of the maladies that we identify in modern culture as a problem for human development. Clancy observed, "Hamlet is unhappy with his mother. This is a deep problem and not the first time she has disappointed him. He has difficulty confronting his mother about this problem, and as he does, it's a textbook case of adult children of alcoholics. The ghost of his father is a classic enabler; his message to young Hamlet is essentially 'Don't get mad at your mom.' The tragedy, then, is that people go swirling out of control."
In this light, Hamlet was imagined as sane but reacting to the dysfunction. He is provoked to the point of inaction, which is something that many adult children of alcoholics wrestle with. "Horatio is the only other sane person," said Clancy, "that's why he is left alive at the end."
Most productions center on the male characters, says Clancy, but he was interested in the female characters and the relationship they have with Hamlet as the element that ignites the action. Essentially, in this production, what propels Hamlet is not his uncle's betrayal but his mother's. To set this up, the first ghost scene was cut and "Oh what a rogue and peasant slave am I" became the entry point to Hamlet's emotional journey, as opposed to his political journey.
The actors were Alessandro Colla as Hamlet, Amanda Dillard as Ophelia, Jonathan Eric Foster as Guildenstern, Jennifer Fouche as Player Queen, Michael Gnat as Polonius, Bill Green as The Ghost/Player King, Karla Hendrick as Gertrude, Kevin Hoffman as Osric/Marcellus, Andy Markert as Rosencrantz, Nathan Ramos as Horatio, Lukas Raphael as Laertes, J.M. Russ as Claudius and Dan Teachout as Gravedigger. Production design was by Jennifer Varbalow. Costume design was by Mimi Maxmen, assisted by Nina Vartanian and Michael Sui. Fight choreography was by Kathy Curtiss.
BASH FOR SHAKESPEARE'S 450th BIRTHDAY
Prior to its production of "Hamlet," the company celebrated Shakespeare's 450th birthday with a two-hour collection of live performances and participatory events, including music and a Shakespeare flash mob. Througout the event, on the Fountain Terrace, a Shakespeare's Birthday Banner was raised for all to enjoy. You could write your own sonnet or favorite Shakespearean quotation, or inscribe your own birthday greeting, on a large scrolling banner.