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Irish troupe invites OSU audiences to give Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ a new shake

Courtesy of Ros Kavanagh

The contemporary theater ensemble, Pan Pan, has traveled from Dublin, Ireland, to come to the Wexner Center for the Arts with a re-interpretation of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.”

The performance is scheduled to be held in Mershon Auditorium  at 8 p.m. Thursday.

Pan Pan’s “The Rehearsal, Playing the Dane,” focuses on the bard’s purgatorial and immortal tragedy at the graveyard, through a modern interpretation of Hamlet’s character.

Prince Hamlet, son of the deceased King Hamlet, mourns the death of his father and the betrayal of his uncle Claudius, who had married his mother. His anger and revenge is portrayed in the play with the famous, “To be, or not to be” monologue.

The audience, however, will decide who will be the role of Hamlet.

Charles Helm, director of programming for the Wexner Center, has worked with the ensemble before and said that the show is “special.”

“The show really is a lot of fun and it has a lot surprises in it,” Helm said. “It’s not at all a classical take on Hamlet. It’s very much a contemporary look at it.”

For the first half of the show, audience members will be able to see the actors compete for the role of Hamlet. In the second half, the audience can interact with the actors and choose their favorite. The chosen actor will then play the role of the “Great Dane.”

With this year being dedicated to Shakespeare, Christopher Matsos, Ohio State theatre lecturer and program coordinator of the Ohio State Arts Initiative, has mentored middle school, high school and college students, focusing on Shakespeare’s plays.

Over the summer, Matsos recruited students from local high schools and has worked on and rehearsed their scenes, monologues and acting techniques. Seven male students were selected, Matsos said.

“They had to be all men because they are playing to the Shakespearean convention that only men played all the roles,” he said.

Chelsea Phillips, OSU alumna and graduate assistant at the Arts Initiative, said that it will be “really interesting and fun to see the inclusion of local actors” in the show.

Tickets for the general public are $18 and $10 for students.

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