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‘Hamlet’ for Kids, a Drama Society Production

Published on March 28, 2017

‘Hamlet’ for Kids, a Drama Society Production

In this scene, Hamlet (Matthew Bessette ’19) learns from Horatio (Austin Washington ’20) that his father’s ghost has been spotted.

The Drama Society at Eastern Connecticut State University presented a kid-friendly version of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” on March 25. Two performances of the children’s theatre production for all-ages audiences took place in the Delmonte Studio Theatre of Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center.

“Hamlet” (for kids) was directed by theatre and political science double-major Lucy Shea ’17, president of the Drama Society. The script was originally adapted by playwright Kyra Baldwin; the Drama Society chose it as a fitting show to introduce the local school-aged community to Shakespeare.

“One of my favorite memories as an Eastern student was when I was an acting apprentice with ‘Shakespeare on the Sound’ in Rowayton, CT,” said Shea. “The company and I devised a new, 40-minute children’s theatre version of ‘Hamlet,’ written with an updated vibe. It was my delight and privilege to present this show in Eastern’s Fine Arts Instructional Center, brought to audiences by the Drama Society.”

The production featured a cast and crew of 22 students who handled all aspects of the show, including costume management, lighting design and front of house tasks.

English and theatre double-major Matthew Bessette, who played Hamlet, said: “I loved playing Shakespeare’s best-known protagonist, but I loved even more playing an angsty teenage version of him. The Hamlet in this adaptation had all the gritty emotion and tragic motivation of the original, but with ripped jeans, a leather jacket, eyeliner and laughable amounts of sarcasm and sass. I truly feel that his attitude and tendency to rebel against all forms of authority made for an enjoyable character in many areas, including humor and entertainment. He also allowed the kids in the audience to relate and identify with him and his problems.”

“Firstly, I’m most proud of the cast,” concluded Shea. “Almost all of us were involved in other productions at the time, yet everyone came to rehearsals ready to work — they found the true joy of performing Shakespeare. Secondly, I’m proud of the show as a whole, as it was the Drama Society’s first-ever children’s theater production. And I’m so grateful to the Theatre Program for helping me and supporting me throughout the process!”

The Drama Society is a student-run club at Eastern that meets weekly to discuss all things theatre. The club is open to all students and creates a range of productions every year.

Written by Michael Rouleau

Categories: Theatre