By Hannah Cruz
The Norman Transcript
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.”
Annah Ledesma, 15-year-old freshman playing Guildenstern, said her performance is her first time tackling Shakespeare.
“The language is really difficult, but I’ve learned a lot,” she said. “It’s been fun.”
The hardest part, she said, was studying the lines and roles of other characters to make sure she understood the plot thoroughly and reacted appropriately.
Ledesma said audience members will enjoy the plot of “Hamlet,” as well as the themes found in the story about morality.
Ian McDougall, a 15-year-old freshman playing Priest, said Norman residents should see the play for a few simple reasons: “We worked pretty hard on it. It’s pretty interesting. You can say you’re classy for coming to see Shakespeare.”
Cast members include Cole Randall as Dying Hamlet, Merhawit Tsegay as Horatio, Josh Robbins as Claudius, Jamison Riggs as Laertes, Andrea Knepp as Gertrude, Veena Muraleetharan as Horatio (player), Kaelin McCool as Hamlet, Katherine Boone as Ophelia, Andrew LaFramboise as Polonius, Adam Harder as Rosencrantz, Annah Ledesma as Guildenstern, Aliah Detwiler as Osric, Lauren Barnes as Player Queen, Ian McDougall as Priest and Aubrey Crynes as Gravedigger.
Crew members include Lucy Fulkerson as assistant to the director, Lynette Long as amanuensis, Steven Canavan on sound, Nadeem Mansouri on lights, Angel Krausnick on costumes, Brandon Stacy and Tommy Willis on grips, Emilie Tahmassebi and Jase Copeland on house, and Steven Canavan, Jase Copeland, Adam Harder, Angel Krausnick, Eshtakaba LaFromboise, Nadeem Mansouri, Brandon Stacy, Emilie Tahmassebi and Tommy Willis on stagecraft.
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