Making new points in ‘Hamlet’

by Aaron Daniels

With only a handful of college performers, the Theatre Simpson production of “Hamlet” is a challenge.

Senior Jenna Bruning, who is playing Queen Gertrude, said some people think college students can’t perform the tragic classic, but she and the rest of the cast will prove them wrong.

“Choosing ‘Hamlet’ to be performed would be tough because you need to consider the company members and see if they could handle their roles,” Bruning said. “This gives us a chance to prove everyone wrong, and show them ‘Hamlet’ can be performed by college students.”

A typical cast for “Hamlet” can include up to 30 performers. Compared to that kind of production, this cast of eight is tiny. To compensate for the small number of performers, many of them fill several roles.

“Some people have double, triple, and even quadruple casts,” Bruning said.

The cast for “Hamlet” includes Bruning as Queen Gertrude; junior Justin Davis as Claudius and the ghost of Hamlet; freshman Chelsea Donison as Guildenstern, Marcellus and the Player Queen; freshman Kayla Dvorak as Ophelia; sophomore Jonathan Field as Hamlet; junior Zach Leiser as Rosencrantz, Laertes, and the Player King; freshman Chris Petrick as Horatio; and sophomore Angela Vogel as Polonius, Osric and the Player Killer.

Bruning is pleased with her role in “Hamlet.”

“I’m an older company member so I can play the roles of older characters,” Bruning said. “I enjoy acting at Simpson because out in the real world of performing and acting I would never get the role.”

Special preparations were carried out for creating the scenes. Brian LeTraunik, a member of the Society of American Fight Directors, was hired by Director Jennifer Nostrala, professor of theatre arts.

“We hired Brian to help stage the scenes with violence and the sword-fight scene,” Nostrala said.

Nostrala thought “Hamlet” would be appropriate for college students to perform – with a few adjustments.

According to Nostrala, following the exact plot of the original “Hamlet” would detract from the aspects of the production she wants to focus on.

“I picked ‘Hamlet’ because I think it would be good for college students, and the issue at hand is how those in the world with power affect the youth,” Nostrala said. “We’re drawing the focus on how corruption was affecting people without power in their society.”

The original “Hamlet” runs approximately four hours. Simpson’s production has been cut down to two hours, but Nostrala said the basic story is the same.

“We followed the same story line but just did some editing,” Nostrala said.

“Hamlet” will be showing at Pote Theatre on Nov. 18 and 19 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 20 at 1:00 p.m.