NORMAN — To be or not to be? That is the question Norman North High School students are answering during their production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” this week.
Performances are 7:30 p.m. today, Friday and Saturday at the Nancy O’Brian Center for the Performing Arts, 1809 N. Stubbeman Ave. Tickets are $10 at the door.
“Shakespeare is wonderful, to begin with, and the play should be a lot of fun to watch,” Director Jim Ryan said. “To me, there is something particularly moving about watching a young person express powerful thoughts and beautiful language for the first time.”
Ryan said the school’s modified production begins at the end of the tragedy, with Hamlet dying in Horatio’s arms, begging for Horatio to tell Hamlet’s story. From there, Horatio calls actors on the stage with scripts to tell the tale.
As the story goes, Prince Hamlet has come home from school to find his world in ruins. His father, the old king Hamlet, is dead and his uncle, Claudius, has ascended to the throne by marrying his late brother’s widow.
The ghost of the old king appears to Hamlet to tell him that Claudius murdered his brother to gain his crown and queen. Hamlet sets out to discover the truth, but his quest ultimately destroys him and his entire family.
The school’s production maintains the original Shakespearean language, paired with nondescript costuming. Ryan said producing “Hamlet” is a chance for students to interact with the unique language.
“Honestly, the language in many ways is more important than the stories. Shakespeare stole all of his stories; these are not original stories,” Ryan said. “The revenge tragedy is not something Shakespeare invented, but he did it better than anyone else and it’s because of the language.
“Connecting with that language and trying to make that language understandable to a 21st century audience is the task that (the students) had.”