Theatre-at-Tusculum will welcome audiences into a world where language is not what it seems with often hilarious results during its upcoming performances of “Dogg’s Hamlet.”
The one-act play will be performed at 7 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, April 24-25 and May 1-2 in the Behan Arena Theatre in the lower level of the Annie Hogan Byrd Fine Arts Building on the Tusculum College campus. (The theatre can be reached using the side entrance on the parking lot side of the building.) Sunday matinee performances will be 2 p.m. on April 26 and May 3.
“Dogg’s Hamlet” has been called an experiment in theatrical language, an investigation of meaning and a comedy of confusion. In the play, characters speak a “foreign” language, which consists of English words but with meanings different than their dictionary definitions. This inconsistency leads to confusion on part of the play’s characters who try to communicate in their respective languages, giving the play much of its comedic flavor.
Playwright Tom Stoppard wrote “Dogg’s Hamlet,” in part, as a reaction to comments about the difficulty of understanding Shakespeare’s Elizabethan-era English and as an effort to give the audience a different perspective on appreciating the differences in language in Shakespeare’s work.
The setting of the play is a school, where students are preparing to perform “Hamlet.” At one point, the students in the play practice their parts in Shakespeare’s tragedy. Their unemotional delivery reflects their struggles to understand a language that seems foreign to them, similar to the challenge for the audience to pick up the dialect used by the play’s character.
Onto the scene comes a truck driver who is delivering material for the play’s set. The delivery driver speaks English and the hilarity unfolds as he tries to ask the students help in unloading the materials. The performance of “Hamlet” that follows the eventual construction of the wall becomes a comedy as the actors condense the play into a 15-minute drama and then into a two-minute encore.
Tackling the task of learning a “foreign” language and performing two fast-moving versions of “Hamlet,” are a talented cast of respected local thespians and some newcomers to the local stage under the direction of Frank Mengel, technical director of Tusculum College Arts Outreach.
The leads include Jeremiah Bales, Jabari Bunch, Brianna Cox, and Andrew Ryan Lanford as the students; Brian Ricker as the truck driver; Seth Holt as the schoolmaster; Paige Mengel as the schoolmaster’s wife; and Heather Dalton as a lady who helps during a school awards ceremony. The cast has double duty as they often play more than one character in “Hamlet” such as Bales, Bunch, and Dalton who each play three different roles. The stage crew for the play is Tusculum students Nora Ramsey and Christina Burke.
Admission is $12 for adults, $10 for seniors 60 and over, and a special rate of $5 for all students. For more information, please contact Tusculum College Arts Outreach at 423-798-1620 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.