Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hamlet: Design Conversation

So, away we go. Hamlet. Central Virginia. Post Civil War. An old barn. Let's rock.

In our production of Hamlet I am very interested with the idea that we cannot reverse the past. We are slaves to time and slaves to circumstance. The characters in Hamlet struggle with what the past has done to them, where they are left, and how they proceed. Characters are grabbing for what once was when what once was is clearly gone.

I have chosen this old barn because I am interested in this looming symbol of the past. It is decayed, old, massive, heavy, and will not budge. It is a symbol of the deterioration of this town of Denmark, Virginia in 1866. It is a symbol of the deterioration of the family, of the life Hamlet had before the war, and his future.

This is not a royal Hamlet. This is a son of a farmer. The clothing is reflective of the time, region, and of the loss of prosperity. The clothing is warn, worked in, and in need of repair. This is also in the South after the Civil War. People are strapped, struggling, and unsure of what the future holds.
There should be a strong visual element of the Civil War. This also becomes a symbol for us, not in regards to what the war was about, but in regards to how it has left the losing side. There is loss, economic depression, and a changing of the guard. At the same time there is an underlying anger bubbling up. When we first see Hamlet he will be returning from the war. He will be in Dixie military gear, fresh from battle, but a losing battle. He is a warrior, he is defeated and this is going to rear its head.

I love the way old photographs look. I would love this to be another visual inspiration as well as inspiration for the music. This was a new technology. A sign of the modern age, but the photos are now frayed, faded, and much of the clarity is lost. It is ghostly and haunting.

I would love warn looks on props and scenery. I think there is room for some color but things look aged. Paint is peeling, wood is warped, and things are falling apart.

This image below is for mood and feeling. Our Hamlet will not be brooding though. He would jump up in this photograph and run to each chair, looking for an answer, looking for help. He is active but isolated.
I LOVE this image below. This is Hamlet to me. Take it for what you will...

I also love the image below for the beginning of the show...

So, at the end of the show I think it should feel like things are on fire. We are moving towards this for the entire evening. I want to keep it active and alive. Things are falling apart but they erupt. The fire is not literal but it is emotional. Hamlet is burning, Claudius is burning, Laertes is burning, and things are exploding. As we enter night fall I want us to stay active, alive, metaphoric, and bold.

So, this is our starting point. So excited.

Geoffrey Kershner
Artistic Director