A couple months ago, I was walking on the Court Street Bridge with a friend. I was describing how I never knew why our city didn’t have any kind of Shakespeare in the Park, or Shakespeare Outside projects. We have a lot of theaters in the area, but Shakespeare wasn’t being promoted in an educational or artistic format.
So I decided to direct “Hamlet” in the spring of 2021, an outdoor performance under the Court Street Bridge on the riverfront. We’re going to show the city and community of Saginaw what theater has the potential to look like.
Nathan Hanley: (standing in front of a second microphone, still stage left of Colorgio and Elise)
With this production, we’re hoping to touch a lot of themes that reflect the people of Saginaw and really bring it home to them. We want to make it both easier to understand, and easier to find yourself in.
(Gestures to Elise and Gio)
It’s about bringing Shakespeare to Saginaw and making it relevant to us.
What we’re all hoping is that this show will bring a lot more POC actors and make them feel welcomed in the community. If they don’t see themselves, they’re not going to feel welcome. We’re trying to bring people in and make this show reflective of Saginaw.
The angle we’re going for is emphasizing the stories of Ophelia and the other women. In most productions of the show, you’ll see that she’s just a martyr in Hamlet’s battle. She frequently gets shoved to the side. We want to tell her story. Hamlet’s actions, while maybe sympathetic, are having a negative impact on the people around him.
Elise Huxtable: Hamlet is the prince of Denmark.
(using quotation mark gesture with her fingers) To borrow Jada Pinkett’s phrase, he’s in this ‘entanglement’ with Ophelia.
She’s my character. She’s trying to figure out what it all means, where Hamlet stands. Meanwhile, Hamlet has his own agenda and ideas of how things will go for him. Ophelia is a fascination for him… and not a whole lot more.
At least, in that moment, until the climax, which I won’t spoil for you!
I think the renewed interest in Shakespeare is well overdue. It’s time. I think when art reaches a certain age, we start to think about it in antiquated ways and we become removed from it. But I feel like doing a play like this brings it back into the present and reminds everyone what it really means.
Gio: We want to tell the stories of the women around Hamlet, particularly how those women are treated. We’re also changing a couple of the roles to female roles, to bring that out even further. This entire plotline is about a war that happened, and a war that’s going to happen. And we are looking at the war that’s going to happen, which is a war on feminism. There is going to be a face for everyone on that stage.
We’re crowd-funding through GoFundMe, with links on our page. We’re asking the community because this project is the community’s just as much as it is ours. It’s fair to let them contribute if they’d like. We want to ask for Saginaw’s help for a Saginaw project.
This entire idea is going to be fresh. It’s supposed to be new...it’s Hamlet.