Walla Walla High School — Modernized “Hamlet”

Vlad Voinich, Staff Reporter

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The local high school has created an interesting adaptation of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” There are a number of days when the performance is staged: Nov. 15, 16 and 17 at 7 p.m. and Nov. 17 at 2 p.m. The performances are held in the auditorium of Wa-Hi (Walla Walla High School) and the entrance fee is $6 per person.

Interestingly, the director of the play, Kristin Glaeser, has attempted to modernize “Hamlet.” This was achieved through the use of modern-day clothes and music with an emphasis on social media. Yes, the characters were using Instagram and messengers to text each other and send news. For example, Ophelia in this version of the play gets a voice message from Hamlet where he expresses his affection towards her. Additionally, Hamlet and Ophelia text each other which becomes evident when Polonius takes his daughter’s phone and discovers this aspect of her personal life.

The orchestra that was present on stage throughout the whole production performed some remarkable pieces which all corresponded to the mood of the play and individual acts. The bass riffs helped create the dramatic effect required by the genre of tragedy. The idea of combining Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” and rock music would seem strange but the band was able to juxtapose the play and this particular genre quite harmoniously.

The character of Polonius, the king’s chief counselor, was played by Matt Reser from Wa-Hi. This character is extremely amusing and hilarious, and Reser elevated the comic aspect of the play by performing this role. Prince Hamlet was played by Ryland Hopkins  this role fits the high-school student well because of his physical appearance and ability to act and interact with his colleagues. Ophelia, played by Raegan Figgins, had a vocal part in the play which sounded really spectacular.

The quality of the sound and light deserves to be mentioned separately. The performance looked professional to a great extent because the sound production was outstanding. The actors had microphones that all emphasized their voices but did not alter them or increase the level of artificiality that can be sometimes felt in suchlike performances due to the use of technical equipment. On the contrary, the gadgets made it easier for the viewer to follow the play and understand the context.

“Hamlet” is famous for a scene in the graveyard for multiple reasons  one of them being the discussion of wealth and recognition and whether it matters after one’s death. The actors at Wa-Hi were outstanding during this scene, especially Jacob Rose who played the gravedigger, a character who denies social hierarchy and order. The gravedigger’s wit, intellect and humor were well-represented by the actor.

All in all, the play is worth seeing for multiple reasons  one of which is the modern day context that is given to the play by the director. This way of presenting “Hamlet” could be more interesting and relatable for a contemporary audience.

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