To be, not to be: the play's the thing

From left,  Pheobe James, Kirsten Jongsma, Ashleigh McLean, and Georgia McNeill make up the band...
From left, Pheobe James, Kirsten Jongsma, Ashleigh McLean, and Georgia McNeill make up the band in Tracing Hamlet. Photo by Wanaka TV.

For six nights this week, guests of Stuart Landsborough's Puzzling World in Wanaka can expect to encounter treachery and madness.

In what is described by Festival of Colour organisers as a ''highly innovative adaption'' of William Shakespeare's play Hamlet, the Wanaka tourist attraction will be the setting for a world premiere of a production called Tracing Hamlet, which starts tonight, the opening night of the festival.

The play features jesters, ghosts, a ''punk band'' called the ''Thieves of Mercy'' and a Hamlet who Skypes but is not physically present, and it invites the audience to follow the action by moving through Puzzling World.

The cast of 30 is made up of local players under the guidance of freelance director and choreographer Sara Brodie, from near Wellington.

''We take the audience out into the maze, and also just the fact you are in the illusion room and dealing with themes of madness - it's such a fitting setting.''

Ms Brodie has long had the idea of producing Hamlet, the most popular Shakespearean play, in a ''deconstructed'' way, but this will be its first airing.

''This is my first professional production, so it has been a big adventure for me, as well as the cast.''

The audience of 120 will be divided into a ''to be world'' and a ''not to be world'' and the two halves will see all the action, but in a different order.

Ms Brodie says the text is all Shakespeare, apart for 10 lines of verse she wrote herself, to get the audience smoothly from one place to another.

From the reaction of the cast and others who had seen it, she did not believe Tracing Hamlet would be overly confusing.

Ms Brodie has been directing for about 15 years and will be doing shows for New Zealand Opera and the Christchurch Arts Festival this year.

She has her own company called Stage Left.

Tracing Hamlet will be performed each night this week until Saturday.



Today's programme


Tuesday, April 16:

9.30am, 11am: ''Ivy'', Lake Wanaka Centre (theatre).

9.30am, 11am: ''Baby O'', Crystal Palace (music).

1pm: ''New Zealand Guitar Quartet'', Crystal Palace (music).

7pm: ''On the Upside Down of the World'', Luggate (theatre).

7pm: ''Tracing Hamlet'', Puzzling World (theatre).

7pm, 8.30pm: ''Salon'', Flair (theatre).

8pm: ''Fabulous Arabia'', Q'town Memorial Hall (music).

8.30pm: ''Bella Kalolo'', Crystal Palace (music).


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