Hamlet brandishing a cell phone?
    Guildenstern and Rosencrantz strapped with pearl-handled .38s?
    Alas, poor Yorick, I thought I knew one of Shakespeare’s greatest works so well; however, there appears to be more things going on in Sanford with the Temple Theatre’s production of Hamlet “than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”
    Beginning Jan. 8 and going through Jan. 25, Shakespeare lovers will be treated to a production unlike any they have probably ever seen as Hamlet is modernized, complete with all the trappings of the 21st century, including the aforementioned cell phone and firearms, as well as a multimedia presentation never dreamt of by the stage hands working the old Globe Theatre.
    {mosimage}Temple Theatre has partnered with Washington, D.C.-based Cyburbia Productions to present new media displays designed to enhance the impact of Shakespeare’s great tragedy. This twist on Hamlet marries theater with film. Images on screens will be scattered across the stage, movies are presented to the court, and an entire chapel is created with the magic of digital video. 
    Rick St. Peter, the play’s director, originally staged this version of Hamlet at his home theater, Actors Guild of Lexington, Ky. 
    “This will be a very different production of Hamlet,” said St. Peter. “As the action unfolds on the stage, there will be video and animations accompanying the play. We will be taking one of the great canons of Western literature and combining it with a 21st century production. Watching this version of Hamlet makes the audience feel as if it is inside a live movie.”
    Before all you Shakespeareophiles doth protest too much over a seemingly heretical redoing of this great tragedy, know that this is not the first time the Bard’s works have been altered to reflect modern times. Take for instance the 1996 film version of Romeo and Juliet, which was set in present day Verona Beach, Calif., featuring gun-toting Montagues and Capulets, as well as Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes in the titular roles. Also, Shakespeare’s Othello was retold in the 2000 flick O, with Mekhi Phifer as a high school basketball star named Odin who travels down the primrose path of Shakespearean tragedy in the modern South.
    And while this modernized riff on Shakespeare’s tragic warhorse may be new to folks around here, St. Peter is an old pro, having pulled off the play numerous times before, though, according to St. Peter, never with such a talented cast.
    “This is probably the best cast I’ve had,” said St. Peter. “They are sensational. Theater goers are in for a real treat.”
    The cast is pared down to 10 actors, including Temple favorites Tom Dalton and Michael Brocki; St. Peter also cast Adam Luckey, who portrayed Hamlet in the original production at Actors Guild of Lexington.
    In addition to retelling the story of the murder of Hamlet’s father and the title character’s bittersweet revenge, St. Peter and his cast have made a work that is dense with symbolism and metaphor a little more “real.”
    “The Temple Theatre’s board of directors watched one of our final rehearsals and they said they loved it because they could understand it,” said St. Peter. “It’s such great material … It’s the ultimate ghost story.”
    And remember, all you folks concerned that this isn’t your father’s Shakespeare, when you come right down to it, the play’s the thing.
    Hamlet will be performed at the Temple Theatre in Sanford from Jan. 8-25. Show times are Thursday 2 p.m. and 7 p.m., Fri.-Sat. 8 p.m., and Sunday 2 p.m. (Student matinees Friday, Jan. 16 & 23 at 9:30 a.m.) For ticket prices and more information, call the Temple Theatre at (919) 774-4155, or the Web site www.templeshows.com.

Contact Tim Wilkins at tim@upandcomingweekly.com 

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