We had so much fun with Far Away that we decided to take the next step and challenged ourselves to reduce one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays into a one-hour version to make it more accessible and fun for high-school students.
There was a lot of discussion and five different scripts before we were finally able to agree and our one-man Hamlet was born. After we had performed it in Hamburg, we took it back to South Tyrol, but the undeniable highlight was performing this show in Hamlet’s actual castle in Elsinore, Denmark!
Here is a review from that show in Danish which I have translated into English:
Hamlet was a Hit!
Picture: The Australian actor Simon Storey performing his one-hour Hamlet, a play which normally takes over three hours. He tackles the role of Ophelia, above, with a blue feather boa and sunglasses.
An Australian actor performed a modern, solo-version of Hamlet for the ninth class at Hamlet‘s actual castle in Elsinore yesterday, his only props being a feather-boa, a pistol and a handful of puppets.
Elsinore: Facebook, Twitter and MySpace were some of the words he used in his translation to modernise the play and catch the attention of his young audience which worked a treat.
The 9th class of the Mørdrup-School and School an der Rønnebær-Allee came to an English lesson of a somewhat different type yesterday. They saw a one-hour version of Hamlet performed by Australian actor Simon Storey at the Castle Kronborg.
In a black hooded jacket, Hamlet stood on the cobblestones of Castle Kronborg and gave the 40 students a quick run-down of the situation at the castle while they eagerly watched. Hamlet spoke directly to the audience making everyone laugh with his jokes – even the small group of boys with baseball caps and Canada-Goose Jackets who were trying to hide at the back of the crowd
Laughter and shocks.
Hamlet descended into the wine cellar from Frederick II during the show, where electric candles and stools with puppets wearing crowns greeted the students. These represented Hamlet’s Mother and Uncle.
"Denmark is a prison" Hamlet suddenly and loudly cried, while he moved around the audience. Those closest to him jumped, but then laughed. Camilla Have from the Mørdrup-School had a rather unique experience during the show when Hamlet suddenly spoke directly to her; I love you not, Hamlet said loudly, pretending that Camilla was Ophelia, and added that he had only told her that so he could take her to bed.
A great success
It was funny but it also gave me a shock when I suddenly found myself a part of the play, said Camilla Have, who really enjoyed the unusual performance. She was also able to understand the language. Line Rosvall, from the Mørdrup-School, also understood everything and was pleased by the show although she usually prefers more traditional forms of theatre.
It was a modern and amusing performance, she said.
Simon Storey loves performing his Hamlet for the 9th class. He said he targeted the younger group in order to help them understand the classics and to enjoy them.
Several 8 – 10 year groups from the Helsingør area will have the opportunity to enjoy Hamlet during the next few days. The PUC (Pædagogisk udviklingscenter) der Universität Aalborg is behind the initiative to improve the English language skills of the students. The theatre piece is a part of the curriculum dealing with Shakespeare and Hamlet which some of the higher classes are studying at the moment.
And more reviews from students in Germany:
Name: Lennart Uden
Schule: Helene Lange School
I went to watch the premiere of the play Hamlet at the Helene Lange school and to be honest I was little excited at first about watching Hamlet again. Thus, I was prepared to live through 2-3 hours of boredom with little new ideas.
I already questioned whether my rather low expectations were justified when I entered the hall and saw the stage though. All there was was a single actor and a bunch of puppets as well as a tape recorder. I developed a slight feeling of interest.
Once the show started and I knew for fact that hamlet would be preformed by a single actor. I was grateful to know that the next 2 hours offered something new but still I was still doubtful of how this idea would work out.
This doubtfulness shrink due to the trust I developed regarding the “one man” cast once he had introduced the play that would follow in such a unique way.
My feeling should prove me right. The play was excellently cut and hilarious at parts due to distinguished irony. Nonetheless the idea of hamlet was not completely lost. The play did not lose important content nor were the characters flat, especially hamlet.
Thus, the show turned out to become a fast moving and exciting 60 minutes and I wondered why I had seen hamlet about 5 times before when this show offered all I was looking for after the first time I had seen it.
Hello "Mr. Hamlet",
this is Kira Lancker from the Gymnasium Süderelbe.
As promised I send you the short review I have written. I´m afraid
that it is not quite how you expected it because it is the first time I
wrote such a thing but I did my best! ;-)
So this is my review:
"Last Wednesday saw the performance of a really good play of
Shakespeares at our school.
One man only presented us Hamlet, the story of a young prince who wants
revenge for his fathers death by the hand of his own brother.
Not only is that a play which was interesting and understandable for us
pupils, but I also liked the way it was shown. The actor only used a
few things like a cloak and, of course, the famous skull while playing
alone. For just one scene, he was assisted by one of our class.
All in all, I recommend this performance for all students from the 11th
to the13th grade. Both, the story and the language are sure to be
understood. It is a quite gripping experience to see a play of such a
complexity being presented by just one dedicated actor."
Reviews of Footslog’s “Hamlet” by students of Gymnasium Lohbrügge.
You’ve gotta be kidding!
This was the first thought when I heard of Simon Story presenting Shakespeare’s “Hamlet“ as a one-man show. But different to my expectations, it was, in the majority of cases easy to understand the storyline, even though it was hard to concentrate on the Shakespearean language all along. Simple means, the use of some effects and the unexpected performance of one of my schoolmates as “Ophelia“, loosened the dry and complex language.
Being an excellent actor, Simon Story and his company fulfilled their intention to give the audience a short overview of the play.
The most fascinating part of the play “Hamlet” was how one single person can bring that much life on the stage. He managed it without difficulties and with the help of little puppets to play the different characters the drama contains. The mix of monologues, dialogues and suprising effects made the play into an interesting show. Especially creative was the idea to put on sunglasses during the parts Hamlet was pretending and acting.