Theatre artist Ravi Jain likes the poetry in Shakespeare, but he feels that many viewers don't appreciate the text.
That's why he's devised an adaptation of the Bard's best-known play for Why Not Theatre that relies on movement as well as words.
"We've taken risks with the text and imagery to clarify the story. Academics may listen to a play like this and get it, but most people can't; they're confused by the language and need time to listen carefully."
His training at the Lecoq school in Paris convinced Jain that physical theatre can be as effective as a text-based show, and later work in New York and London gave him the confidence to play with the classics.
Last summer he ran a workshop with two members of Britain's famous Théâtre de Complicité. The workshop gave the Toronto-born Jain a sense that local actors cared about devising a new way to develop a production, a way that involves "experimentation, openness and a desire to play."
For The Prince Hamlet , he's gathered actors from Canada (including Philip Graeme in the title role), the States, England, Denmark and Kenya and drilled them in a production that replaces exposition with action - ironic in a play whose theme is to act or not act.
"We've reconstructed a lot of the story to make it more visual, for instance, beginning with a montage of Hamlet's father's funeral, his mother's remarriage and Claudius's coronation, and then a flashback of Horatio telling the prince about meeting the ghost."
The result, argues Jain, is a production that "matches physicality with words, so it's not just about talking and emoting. The story isn't dumbed down; what we do is marry the heightened poetry with heightened visuals.
"The Prince Hamlet tells its story in the simplest way possible. We want to refresh the play for those who know it, and bring it to life for newcomers."
More Danish treats
Want more takes on Shakespeare's fascinating prince? You might remember that a few seasons ago Raoul Bhanejadid a one-man version of Hamlet, playing all the parts. His Hamlet (Solo) is the basis for a documentary that also includes interviews with other Canadian Hamlets, including Brent Carver, Colm Feore, Paul Gross and Christopher Plummer.
The documentary is part of a fundraising evening Wednesday (September 19) for the Shakespeare Globe Centre of Canada, at which Plummer, Albert Schultz (who played the part for Soulpepper) and Don Harron will appear. Others who've played the noble Dane will also be in attendance, among them Tom Barnett, Ben Carlson, Layne Coleman, John Neville and R. H. Thomson.
Native Earth gala
Another funder celebrates Native Earth Performing Arts's first quarter-century Sunday (September 16). The company is diving into its next 25 years feet first.
For this event, the legendary company that's been the home to dozens of native artists plays with the idea of being grounded with a bare-feet dance floor so everyone can get down and a series of performances hosted by Aboriginal comedians Craig Lauzon and Falen Johnson.
Look for entertainment by dancers Waawaate Fobister and Santee Smith, comedy by Tonto's Nephews and music by Cheri Maracle and the Turtle Gals, as well as other performers.
The company also launches its commemorative calendar, featuring pix of native artists enjoying slices of the company's anniversary cake. There's sure to be lots of sticky fingers by the end of the evening.