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Hamlet is a performer. He performs the role of prince; he performs the role of son; he performs the role of lover, friend, scholar, thinker. And he performs the role of actor. The extent to which he succeeds or fails to fulfill the expectations of each role indicates his rebellion against a flawed system. The world we have envisioned for our Hamlet is one with a long history of wrongs unaddressed, unrighted, swept under the soil without being acknowledged. So here is our “something rotten”: a past that has begun to fester and crawl back out of the ground, demanding to be remembered correctly.

“Who’s there?” the play opens, asking us to question the nature of humanity, of the past, of memory. The singular narrative of History is false. In the ineffable zeitgeist of our time, there is only the hope of moving forward—with the knowledge of the past— toward a future that embraces the multiplicity of histories that make up our modern state.

Thus, Hamlet is a revenge play—a play about righting the wrongs of the past. But it is also a play that questions the very act of vengeance, cycles of murder, and scheming that a ceaseless thirst for power causes.

After all that has been said and done, “the rest is silence.” And in that silence lie the memories, the stories told over and over through the ages. As theatremakers, as storytellers, and as people we ought to keep telling these stories. Hamlet prompts us to do so—to be better, to remember, to set things right.

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