Saturday, July 13, through Sunday, July 21
Lincoln Park, 11th Avenue and 38th Street, Rock Island, IL
“To be, or not to be: that is the question.” “Brevity is the soul of wit.” “To thine own self be true.” “The lady doth protest too much.” “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.” Some of the most famous lines in world-theatre history are set to be heard in Rock Island's Lincoln Park when Genesius Guild presents William Shakespeare's timeless classic Hamlet from July 13 through 21, the company's first staging of this revered Elizabethan tragedy in 18 years.
Set in Denmark and believed to have been written by Shakespeare some time between 1599 and 1602, the Bard's unforgettable, iconic work depicts Prince Hamlet and his revenge against his uncle Claudius, who has murdered Hamlet's father in order to seize his throne and marry Hamlet's mother Gertrude. Hamlet is considered among the most powerful and influential works of world literature, was one of Shakespeare's most popular works during his lifetime, and still ranks among his most performed, topping the performance list of the Royal Shakespeare Company and its predecessors in Stratford-upon-Avon since 1879.
Shakespeare's tragedy has also inspired other writers ranging from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe to Charles Dickens to James Joyce to Iris Murdoch, and has been described by the seminal Arden Shakespeare as “the world's most filmed story after Cinderella.” The tale of Shakespeare's Hamlet was derived from the legend of Amleth as retold by the 16th-Century scholar François de Belleforest, and many scholars believe that the playwright wrote his version of the title role for his fellow actor Richard Burbage, the leading tragedian of Shakespeare's time. In the 400 years since its inception, the role has been performed by numerous highly acclaimed actors in each successive century, with the role's recent portrayers including Kenneth Branagh, Ethan Hawke, and Ralph Fiennes, who won a Tony Award for the play's 1995 Broadway production.
Directing Hamlet's area presentation is Genesius Guild veteran Alaina Pascarella, a performer from recent productions of The Merry Wives of Windsor, Measure for Measure, and King Lear who also directed the Prenzie Players' Shakespare offering Henry VIII: All Is True. Hamlet is played by Andrew Bruning, a castmate in the Prenzie Players' Lear, Henry VIII, and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, while Claudius is portrayed by Philip Dunbridge (the Black Box Theatre's Sleuth) and Gertrude by Cait Bodenbender (Genesius Guild's Macbeth). And with the doomed Ophelia played by Genesius Guild veteran Sarah Willie (Prometheus Bound, The Bacchae), nine additional actors – several of them cast in multiple roles – complete Pascarella's ensemble: Josef Bodenbender, Payton Brasher, Kate Farence, Mischa Hooker, Kitty Israel, Jacob Lund, Anna M. Schneider, Aaron E. Sullivan, and Kyle Taylor.
Hamlet will be performed in Lincoln Park on Saturdays at Sundays at 8 p.m., and admission to the July 13 through 21 run is free, though donations are encouraged. For more information, visit Genesius.org.