From mortality to madness, Flathead’s ‘Hamlet’ has it all

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Reed Miller as Hamlet talks with two of actors, Lydia Wood, left, and Kadence Johnson in a rehearsal for the FHS Theatre Department production of “Hamlet.” (Courtesy photo)

Flathead High School will explore the deepest corners of the mind and examine the devastation of grief through Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” Thursday through Saturday, April 18, 19 and 20, at 6:27 p.m. in the David M. Hashley Theatre at Flathead High School in Kalispell.

Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for children, students, and senior citizens and are available at the FHS Main Office and Photo Video Plus or at the door if still available.

A captivating tale of familial discord, personal ambition, love and revenge, “Hamlet” is arguably Shakespeare’s greatest play and is one of the most complete portrayals of the human psyche in the literary world. From mortality to madness, “Hamlet” has it all, from the ghost story to the love story. The audience will suffer alongside the characters as these tragic souls go through trials as they act on what they believe is right.

“Our production of ‘Hamlet’ rests on the idea of grief,” said director Jen Stebbins-Han. “The intensity of emotion and human connection in ‘Hamlet’ seemed like a great opportunity to showcase the human mind and how grief can highlight its fragility and its strength.”

While mourning his father’s sudden death, Prince Hamlet returns home to discover his mother hastily remarried to his despised uncle who has assumed the throne. When he is haunted by the ghost of the late king who accuses the uncle of murder, Hamlet, is pushed to the brink of madness and driven to avenge his father’s death. Torn between thought and action, the manic prince is left questioning what is real and what he alone has imagined. Through mortality and madness, Hamlet walks the line between spiraling insanity and the truth.

“We are producing the show in the round with the black box theater itself representing Hamlet’s brain and each of the four entrances becoming a ‘corner of his mind.’ Light, sound, and projections will help this concept come to life. We are using live cello music, as well as a variety of prerecorded music from Johnny Cash to Metallica to help tell the story of Hamlet and the people in his life,” said Stebbins-Han. “I hope people walk away from the show feeling as though they entered into another person’s story for a couple hours…the good, the bad and the ugly of another’s mind at war with itself.”

Inspiration to produce “Hamlet” at FHS this year came from a variety of sources from within and without the program.

“As a department staff we were able to see this show at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival a few years ago and that viewing has definitely influenced my process,” Stebbins-Han said. “Also, Flathead Senior IB students were assigned the task of presenting complete ‘Hamlet’ Production proposals before auditions. I was so impressed with these presentations and incorporated many of the students’ thematic concepts, technical elements, and costume designs into the show.”

The cast of “Hamlet” includes: Emme Schow, Dade Wendt, Shelbie Guckenberg, Carson Robison, Sean Struble, Anna Hedinger, Rylee Houser, Conner Bullins, Ross Calhoon, Alan Taylor, Charcy Bullock, Lydia Wood, James Francis, Kadence Johnson, Keiryn Edelen and Reed Miller as Hamlet.

Supporting the cast behind the scenes is the stage and technical crew under the direction of Liz Sykora who is assisted by Patty Hodges. The crew includes: Elly Schaefer, Rebekah Hopp, Kay Gibbs, Juniper Isaak, Scout McMahon, AJ Denney, Rebecca Charlesworth, Elliot Brown, Matt Nairn, Terah Schexnider, Madison Byrd, Kyrie Chollman, Trinity Kurr and Isabelle James.

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