Marcel Meyer as the Prince of Denmark, and Jeremy Richard and Mathew Baldwin as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in The Tragedy of Hamlet at the Rhodes Theatre, Grahamstown, 06 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Abrahamse & Meyer Productions brings this new rendition of the tragedy as performed by the crew aboard The Red Dragon off the East Coast of South Africa, one of the earliest recorded performances of Hamlet, in 1608. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg.
Marcel Meyer as the Prince of Denmark, and Jeremy Richard and Mathew Baldwin as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern in The Tragedy of Hamlet at the Rhodes Theatre, Grahamstown, 06 July 2015, at the 2015 National Arts Festival. Abrahamse & Meyer Productions brings this new rendition of the tragedy as performed by the crew aboard The Red Dragon off the East Coast of South Africa, one of the earliest recorded performances of Hamlet, in 1608. Photo: CuePix / Jane Berg.

Local ‘Hamlet’ for Shakespeare fest

By Arts Writer Time of article published Apr 5, 2016

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Arts Writer

THEATRE-MAKERS Fred Abrahamse and Marcel Meyer continue to impress abroad. Their latest coup is that this month their production of The Tragedy of Hamlet will open at the 10th International Shakespeare Festival in Craiova, Romania.

The celebration of the festival coincides with the commemoration of the 400thanniversary of William Shakespeare’s death.

This year’s it has been curated around a theme taken from Ben Jonson’s famous line – “Shakespeare For All Time”.

This event will bring 46 events from four continents to Craiova, with productions from Britain, Japan, Israel, South Africa, India, Portugal, Poland, Bulgaria, Sweden, Germany, Italy and Russia.

The 2016 Craiova International Shakespeare Festival opens on April 14 with Tokyo’s Saitama Theatre’s Richard II, staged by legendary Japanese director Yukio Ninagawa, with a cast of 90 cross-generational actors from both the Saitama Gold Theatre and Saitama Next Theatre.

The Craiova “Marin Sorescu” National Theatre presents its premiere of Julius Caesar, staged by the American director and producer Peter Schneider. Great Britain will be represented by the Shakespeare at the Tobacco Factory Theatre, Worcester Repertory Theatre and the Flute Theatre with their performances of Hamlet directed by Andrew Hilton, The Comedy of Errors directed by Ben Humphrey, and Hamlet, Who’s There? directed by Kelly Hunter.

Abrahamse and Meyer’s Hamlet comes from South Africa, while the Baltic House Theatre Festival of St Petersburg present their Macbeth, directed by the Belgian director Luk Perceval.

The festival closes on April 23 with several exciting performances, including a community production of Romeo and Juliet created by the British director Philip Parr with the local community of Craiova and the Schaubuhne Berlin’s Richard III directed by Thomas Ostermeier – the recipient of this year’s Shakespeare Prize awarded by the festival.

Abrahamse & Meyer’s production of The Tragedy of Hamlet premiered to standing ovations at the 2015 National Arts Festival, Grahamstown.

Ismail Mahomed, Artistic Director said: “At the National Arts Festival the Abrahamse-Meyer company has earned a strong reputation for presenting high quality productions of the Bard’s plays. We are delighted that this company will be representing South Africa on a prestigious world stage in a year when theatre festivals across the globe are celebrating the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death.”

The Abrahamse and Meyer production takes its inspiration from one of the earliest recorded performances of Hamlet during Shakespeare’s life-time.

In 1608, off the East Coast of South Africa, the crew of the East India Ship, Red Dragon performed Hamlet aboard their ship.

This production re-imagines Shakespeare most iconic play utilizing a cast of only six actors playing six Jacobean sailors who, in turn, play all the parts in Shakespeare’s Hamlet making it a play, within a play, within a play.

Local audiences can look forward to seeing this innovative production in Cape Town and in Johannesburg in 2017 before it heads off for another international tour of the USA.

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