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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Production transports Hamlet into Nazi era

Ophelia%2C+played+by+Caitlin+Ferguson%2C+runs+from+Hamlet%2C+played+by+Jake+Blakeman%2C+during+a+rehearsal+of+Hamlet+at+the+NE+playhouse.
Ophelia, played by Caitlin Ferguson, runs from Hamlet, played by Jake Blakeman, during a rehearsal of Hamlet at the NE playhouse. Photo by Kaylee Jensen/The Collegian

By Kathryn Kelman/ne news editor

Nazis are not traditionally associated with Shakespeare’s Hamlet, but the NE Campus drama program’s production of the classic play will include them.

Hamlet is a tragedy originally set during the 14th and 15th centuries in Denmark. The play explores numerous ideas, including death, love, family, politics, deception and the meaning of life.

The Shakespearean tragedy opens March 1 in the NE playhouse (NFAB 1205), but the show’s director, drama associate professor Stephen Thomas, has opted to modernize it a bit.

“You know, we don’t talk that way, obviously, and there’s a lot of weird arcane references to things, but this setting of it sort of helps [the actors] latch that onto something more specific,” drama associate professor and assistant director of the production Jakie Cabe said.

Thomas had the idea to set the play in 1943 when Denmark was under Nazi occupation and has drawn some inspiration from the Amazon series The Man in the High Castle, Cabe said.

“So it’s a Nazi Hamlet,” he said.

In addition to helping direct, Cabe will play Hamlet’s father’s ghost. He said setting the play during the Nazi occupation of Denmark adds another level of subtext and gives the characters even more layers, specifically giving his character another reason to die.

“There’s that underpinning that I was not down with the Nazis and that might have been also why I was killed,” Cabe said. “It sort of raises the stakes for a lot of the characters because of what we know through history. It makes everybody go ‘I gotta do what’s right or I might be put in a concentration camp.’”

He said the costumes and look of things will boost up the performance.

“The costumes are going to be modern, some Nazi uniforms, 1943 dress for the women,” he said. “I think we’ve taken a banner, and we’re trying to do some architecture that is suggestive of Denmark during that period.”

Early college high school students, who will play the actors that come in and do the play within a play, will be dressed more Bohemian, Cabe said.

“We’re treating them mostly like Italian gypsies,” he said. “They’re a gypsy bunch of players trying to do right so they don’t get killed by the Nazis.”

NE student Caitlin Ferguson, who will play Ophelia in the play, believes theater is about telling a story regardless of whether it’s in a different time.

“I think that every story can relate to some person out there,” Ferguson said.

Thomas told the actors that Hamlet was Shakespeare’s masterpiece, NE student Ariana Stephens said.

“There’s so much to get out of it. I mean, it’s just a brilliant show,” Stephens said.

Stephens will play Queen Gertrude in the production and said she is excited.

“I feel like this role is everything I could want to portray as an actress,” Stephens said. “Just the interactions I get with other characters in the scenes and there’s such high tensions, especially in the second act. It’s just really fun to play her.”

Performances start at 7 p.m. March 1-3 and 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. March 4.

Admission is free for TCC students, faculty and staff, $3 for non-TCC students and senior citizens and $6 for the general public.

A free outreach performance will be held at 9:30 a.m. March 2 in the NE theater (NFAB 1205) and is open to TCC and high school students.

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