Pasadena’s resident guerilla Shakespeare company is back with Shakespeare’s most enduring play, Hamlet. The Ensemble Shakespeare Theater, known for original adaptations of The Bard’s plays, has created an innovative and streamlined take on the famous tragedy. Horatio is our narrator for this production, and he is finally ready to tell his story to ”the yet-unknowing world”. We follow his journey as he watches his friend, Hamlet, deal with grief, madness, family, revenge, and sometimes even a battle with substance abuse.
The play originated in a collaboration between Brian White, who adapted the script, and the Ensemble’s artistic director, Brian Elerding. Elerding won positive reviews for the Ensemble’s most recent production, Lear’s Shadow , another original adaptation of Shakespeare’s work. Under his direction, the company has produced plays at the Lineage Performing Arts Center in Pasadena, the Under the Oaks Theater at Descanso Gardens, and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
This iteration of Hamlet begins in a bar, where Horatio relates the story of his tragic friend, Prince Hamlet. Swirling in this adaptation are challenging themes of alcoholism, a theme close to home for both Brians. “I’ve never had the urge to try to take on directing Hamlet,” says Elerding, “but when Brian [White] and I got together and he shared his personal stories of how alcoholism has touched his life, and how he put that fire into his adaptation, suddenly this play didn’t just feel like just one more standard Hamlet . I knew I had to do it.”
Ensemble Shakespeare’s Hamlet runs at the Lineage Performing Arts Center on Saturdays and Sundays September 9 through September 24 at 7:30. Ticket prices range from $15-25, with discounts for students and seniors. $6 Parking is available in the Schoolhouse Parking Lot on the opposite corner from the theater at Green and Fair Oaks. To purchase tickets head over to www.ensembleshakes.org/tickets