An Evening with Hamlet

By: Leah Hilgendorf Email
By: Leah Hilgendorf Email


Last Thursday night, my boyfriend surprised me with the news that an acting troupe from London was coming to Rudder Theater to perform a unique version of Hamlet. My somewhat obsessive love of both Shakespeare, British accents and the fact student tickets were only 5 dollars made this an event I wasn’t going to miss.

We gathered up our play-watching comrades, got fancy, and headed out to Pei-Wei for some pre-play chow.

When we arrived at Rudder Theater and found our seats, the first thing that struck me was that the stage lacked both a backdrop and props. I groaned inwardly, thinking that this must have been the reason it was only five dollars. There is something terrifying about realizing that you are about to see a mangled, amateur version of a Shakespeare play. It is as if you are trapped in your seat for the next 3 hours with no hope of escape. I began to feel claustrophobic. As the only English major in our group, I hoped I hadn’t dragged my friends, (all of whom are majoring in engineering or political science) to a play that would make them never want to go with me again. I began to worry more as I opened the program and realized there were only five actors in this play, one that usually required twenty-three or more. Lovely, just lovely.

When the play was about to begin, someone came onto the stage and explained that the lack of props and actors was due to the fact that the Actors from the London Stage were attempting to make Shakespeare more accessible to the public by allowing for lower ticket rates. This gave me hope.

The Play

As soon as the play began, I was under the actors’ spell. Each and every actor’s performance was first rate, and I began to realize that these people were so extremely talented and entertaining; props and gaudy backgrounds would have seemed silly. The Actors from the London Stage effortlessly produced mood, atmosphere, comedy, and tragedy with the help of a few simple costumes, one violin, and one bell. I soon forgot the things that one usually associates with a play, and my imagination was given a lot of room to interpret the play. The actors each played 3-6 characters, and the audience loved when one of them would switch roles while talking to themselves. This fun technique added comic relief at all the right moments, keeping the audience entertained and laughing. It was beautifully done. (For more info about their unique performance style and vision, click here.)

Coming Up!

The chance to see this unique version of Hamlet has passed (just like Hamlet, and everyone ELSE in that play… sorry, I couldn’t resist). However, if you find yourself thirsting for some culture in the upcoming weeks why not plan a unique date, or just a fun night away from studying with your friends? Check out the line-up for upcoming performances in Rudder this semester at the MSC OPAS box office’s website. The next event is a play called Sweet Honey in the Rock and it takes place on Thursday February 7th at 7:30 pm. Get out there and support the arts Brazos Valley! I guarantee it will make an ordinary day, extraordinary!

Also, If you are a Langston Hughes fan, check out Leyla McCalla on February 26th in Rudder Theater. She is an incredible vocalist, plays the banjo and the cello, and sets the words of Langston Hughes to poetry.

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