You may know Jeffrey Hatcher as the author of such locally produced plays as Compleat Female Stage Beauty or Turn of the Screw, or the films Stage Beauty or the upcoming Mr. Holmes (in which Ian McKellan plays an aging Sherlock). But in the late '60s he was a precocious and somewhat nerdy 5th grader in Steubenville, Ohio (which he later used as a setting for several of his plays). A series of coincidences prompted him to suggest to his teacher that their class do Hamlet for their annual play, to which she agreed on the condition that he adapt and direct it. And so a playwright was born. Over the course of about 80 minutes and with great detail and enthusiasm, Jeffrey recounts the entire month long episode of adapting, casting, rehearsing, and performing the play. We learn about his classmates, and why each was perfectly suited for their role. We learn about the young playwright/director's struggles with crises including his leading lady losing her voice, and just what exactly is an arras and how can it be represented in a classroom? We also learn a bit about his relationship with his parents and what it was a like to be a kid in America at that time.
|Jeffrey Hatcher reenacting his role of Laertes in his 5th grade play|
(photo by Aaron Fenster)
Jeffrey Hatcher's Hamlet is not some dry lecture on Shakespeare, it's a celebration of the love of drama, and a nostalgic look at growing up in the '60s, as well as at that time in your youth when school is your entire universe, and your only worries involve the class project and the classmate you have a crush on or a vendetta against. Playing through October 25, Jeffrey Hatcher's Hamlet is a great way to open Illusion Theater's 40th anniversary season. Illusion's Producing Directors Michael Robins and Bonnie Morris just won the Ivey Lifetime Achievement Award, a deserving tribute to the great work they do at Illusion, so this is a great time to pay a visit to their lovely theater on the 8th floor of the Hennepin Center for the Arts. (Check out the great ticket deals available on Goldstar.)