By Eduardo Castaeeda
The Cal Poly Pomona Department of Theatre and New Dance premiered William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” on Friday.
The production is a tale about a prince who seeks to avenge his father’s murder; however, his journey consists of betrayal and chaos.
The department’s unique rendition of “Hamlet” presented an effective combination of visual effects and modern costumes that provided a new twist on the popular, classic narrative.
In creating distinct images for the story, Linda Bisesti, director of the production and a professor at the Department of Theatre and New Dance, said she wanted to change the original interpretation of King Hamlet’s ghost because she had a talented design team.
“I wanted to do something very different with the ghost,” said Bisesti. “I liked the fact that I wanted to do an unusual take on the ghost not being an actor dressed up as a ghost.”
King Hamlet’s ghost makes his initial appearance as a white orb on the walls of the theatre in the beginning of the play. The ghost haunts the characters throughout the story as it floats around the theatre.
Before every manifestation, an intimidating symphony anticipated the orb’s appearance, which kept viewers on their toes.
The madness begins once Hamlet confronts his father’s ghost and learns about his uncle’s treachery. Hamlet is left distraught with more questions than ever and with a sparked mission of revenge.
Andrew Garcia, a second-year theatre transfer student, brings Hamlet to life on stage and does not hold back. Garcia said his character is a clever and intelligent man who embraces all of his emotions. He believes he is a relatable human character.
“Hamlet is really interesting and is the most challenging character I’ve played,” said Garcia. “He speaks in prose almost all the time and there’s no sense of rhythm. It makes it more difficult to recite and find beats, as his inner thoughts become public.”
While Hamlet grieves his father’s death, he is also distracted by his love interest with Ophelia. This romance sparks the kingdom’s concern as Polonius, Ophelia’s father and advisor to King Claudius, wishes his daughter had high standards and forbids her to speak with Hamlet.
After Polonius alerts Claudius and Queen Gertrude about Hamlet’s newfound romance with Ophelia, the King and Queen call upon some of Hamlet’s old friends.
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Hamlet’s friends that are asked to find Hamlet and bring him home after they investigate the causes of his behaviors.
The two appear in the most fashionable manner on opposites sides of the theatre riding scooters and tooting horns. The characters executed their entrances fairly well, as they are part of the comedic humor in this production.
Omar Busailah, a third-year theatre student, plays the role of Rosencrantz. Like other students in the production, Busailah said the language was one of the most challenging aspects of “Hamlet.”
“We had to look up the dictionary to see what Hamlet really meant,” said Busailah. “It was also nerve wrecking because I wanted to make sure that I said what he really meant in the text and not something else.”
While the production is packed with heavy monologues and a complex vocabulary, the actors prevailed from start to finish.
When the time came for Hamlet’s infamous “to be or not to be” speech, Garcia delivered the dialogue flawlessly. Embracing Hamlet’s vulnerability in a dim spotlight, Garcia became an icon of his own.
Shortly after Hamlet and Ophelia meet, the court watches Hamlet’s play, which reenacts King Hamlet’s death. Hamlet’s play is solely a plan to find out if Claudius is guilty of murder.
“The Mouse Trap,” a play within a play, succeeds and sends Claudius to his room to pray. Hamlet goes on his way to speak with his mother when he sees Claudius praying. He sees the opportunity to kill Claudius, but he chooses not to kill him while he prays.
Instead, Hamlet goes to his mother’s room and manages to kill Polonius, thinking it is Claudius. As Claudius fears for his life, he is left with no other option than to plan Hamlet’s death.
In what may be one of the most tragic and failed executions in theatrical history, the final duel between Hamlet and Laertes begins.
Claudius gives Laertes the foil with a poisoned tip and fills a glass with poison if it fails. Unfortunately, it is Gertrude that drinks the poison first and collapses.
Hamlet is slashed with the poisoned sword. Laertes and Hamlet switch foils, and Hamlet stabs Laertes with the poisoned sword. Hamlet kills Claudius, as they are all dying.
Horatio is the last man standing, as it comes to an end.
The production was a success for both Bisesti and the department. The classic play underwent some modifications, but it maintained its strength in becoming a new experience.
Bisesti said she enjoyed doing a Shakespeare production. She believes it makes the students better actors.
“They’re really a wonderful group of kids,” said Bisesti. “I’m pretty demanding, and I think it’s good for them to be pushed. I think they’re capable of doing more than they know they are capable of, and it’s my job to get them to do even more.”
Zoran Liu-Moy / The Poly Post
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