Shakespeare Explores Life and Life Lessons with HAMLET

by RoxyRegionalTheatre on March 4, 2011

A young soldier, with his wife and children, attended a daytime field trip performance of Once Upon A Time. These performances are usually attended by a child with his or her mother or father, but it’s rare that both parents have the opportunity to attend. After the performance, I commented on the uncommonness of seeing both parents. Dad said, “I wanted to spend my last day with them at the theatre. I’m being deployed tomorrow.”

I was touched and moved by their coming to the theatre before his placing himself in harm’s way, not only risking his life far from home, but also missing many everyday, little ordinary things often taken for granted, not to mention all the special firsts and one-time-onlys like kisses and steps and teeth and inches and A’s and B’s. What a marvelous memory for both them and me. What a gift, what a treasure, what a blessing I was given.

Leslie Greene, my dearest friend and the best actress I’ve ever had the pleasure to work with, is back to recreate her role as Gertrude in Hamlet. And she is staying on to share the spotlight with my partner, Tom Thayer, in Doubt.

Leslie appeared in our first season in Lillian Hellman’s Toys in the Attic. Her list of accomplishments continues: Long Days Journey Into Night, A Delicate Balance, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf, The Glass Menagerie, The Noble Heart and Daisy in Driving Miss Daisy, a role first perfectly portrayed by the late Mary Harpel. Leslie took the role on for our revival and recreated it again in her new hometown’s theatre in Baton Rouge. And I’ve written two plays for her: Dorothy Dix: Speaks! and Nora Witzel: A Very Curious Fella. To have her back onstage is the greatest gift a director could have.

Hamlet also features Gregory Pember and Kendall Anne Thompson, both graduates of The Boston Conservatory, a school that produces artists of the highest caliber. What a pleasure to work with them on what is considered the greatest play in the English language.

The Roxy, I am proud to say, has produced the plays attributed to William Shakespeare since 1986 and is the only theatre that annually presents his works. Yes, other venues perform Shakespeare, but, from time to time, they present Shakespeare-inspired productions like The Complete Works of Wm. Shakespeare, Abridged (but that doesn’t count).

Mary O’Neill writes: “With no special effects, [Shakespeare] explored the afterlife, war, free will, madness, family betrayals, the limits of human reason, the consequences of choice (even to do nothing), justice, revenge and hypocrisy. All this is in Hamlet alone.”

Any educator who teaches Shakespeare would find further benefit seeing our production of Hamlet. Hamlet runs March 11 through March 19, playing Fridays and Saturdays at 8pm, with a 2pm matinee on Saturday, March 19. Daytime field trip performances are also available.

Tonight and Saturday at 8pm are the final two performances of Ain’t Misbehavin’.

See you at the theatre!

[John McDonald]

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