Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Ghosts, sword fights, spies, poisoned cups, madness and an evil king will bring intrigue and drama to audiences in the Hood River Valley High School production of William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet,” running weekends March 1 through March 16.
And here begins the intrigue.
Hamlet, the young prince of Denmark, is distraught at the recent death of his father, king Hamlet. Claudius, old king Hamlet’s brother, has taken the throne and has married his wife Gertrude, prince Hamlet’s mother.
“There is, of course, the personal struggle of Hamlet, who must choose his destiny despite the heavy-handed control of the adults in his life,” said Rachel Harry, director and HRV drama teacher, when summarizing the message in the play. “There are also the struggles for power and autonomy of all the characters, and the chess game played by the elders using the youths as pawns.”
The play also has much to say about evil and the varied ways in which we humans confront it — or, more often, fail to.
During an eerie encounter with the ghost of his dead father, Hamlet learns that his father was poisoned by his uncle Claudius. The ghost commands prince Hamlet to avenge his death. Hamlet agrees, but spends much of the play uncertain of whether to trust the ghost’s words and seeks to obtain proof of his uncle Claudius’ guilt.
To test Claudius’ conscience, prince Hamlet stages a play about a man who poisons the king to steal the throne and the king’s wife for himself. Hamlet sees that Claudius is suddenly stricken with guilt upon seeing the play, realizes the ghost was right and vows to have revenge. But that vow takes its toll and the contemplative Hamlet begins to lose his mind.
“I feel Shakespeare is pointing out that we know what is going on. We can recognize deception. We know when we are being lied to, yet we pretend we don’t,” said Harry. “Horrible things are taking place, but we tell ourselves, ‘No, this isn’t really happening.’ Hamlet goes mad knowing that evil is taking place, yet others look the other way, so he feels perhaps he is mistaken.”
The play also accurately portrays how evil spreads like a disease beyond the original source.
In Hamlet’s torment, he breaks the heart of young Ophelia, is challenged to a sword fight by her vengeful sibling Laertes and is stalked by spies of Claudius. Hamlet’s mother Gertrude becomes an unknowing victim of Claudius’ plots against Hamlet and virtually every lead character must confront death.
In the play’s tragic ending Shakespeare challenges the audience to face and contemplate the similarities of justice and revenge, and the source of those impulses in our shared human nature.
“The biggest hurdle for the students is the physicality of the time period,” said Harry. “These people were larger than life; they stood erect and commanded their space. Men wore swords and faced life-and-death issues on a daily basis. We are pretty domesticated now, and to comprehend and portray this is a challenge.
“The type of acting required for this type of play is different from the modern style,” she said. “The movement, affect and vocal style; are all very specific. Students in the program explore classical acting style in second year and it is a great opportunity for them to actually use these methods in a play.”
Seniors in lead roles include Duncan Krummel as Hamlet, Murphy Jackson as Claudius, Sofia Marbach as Gertrude, Maddy McLean as Laertes and Tanis Gonzaga as Polonius. Ophelia is played by sophomore Delaney Barbour.
Additional roles and players are: Marcos Galvez as Horatio, Harlan Daniels as Fortinbras, August Beard as Rosencrantz and Sophie Finstad as Guildenstern. Additional actors include Hunter Peterson, Keenan Collins, Graham Sholar, Isabella Correa, Noelani Euwer, Lauren Gray, Ben Dane, Luis Santillan, Jade James, Cayla Sacre, Matt Oldfield, Rebecca Wolfe and Olivia Newcomb.
To mount a Shakespearean play takes a significant amount of technical support. Student MacKenzie Schmidt is coordinating behind-the-scenes as stage manager. Dozens of additional students assist with lights, sound and props including: Tay Camille Lynne, Edith Sanchez, Justin Danner, Eric Hamada, Jacob Mears, Stephanie Olson, Gabriella Whitehead, Josh Breedlove and Cory Cimock.
“We’re trying to pull off a monumental undertaking with just a handful of amazing parents and adults,” said Harry. “Without Jeff Lorenzen (sets), Dan Baxter (throne), Kathy Peldyak, Sarah Delano, Lynn Schuepbach, and Elise Tickner (costumes), I really could not have done this.
“There are a number of other wonderful parents sewing and contributing to the production in a great way, but those lead people have gone above and beyond,” Harry added. “The interesting thing to note is that none of them have a child in the production.”
While audiences will have this unique opportunity to see Shakespeare’s work performed, it won’t be an all-afternoon event.
“Traditionally the plays of Shakespeare are often cut down to accommodate the modern time frame, and this is the case with our Hamlet,” added Harry. “The play, normally a five-act, four-hour play, will run around two hours.”
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Parkdale third graders sing "12 Disaster Days of Christmas"
Welcome to your sing-able Christmas gift list. What follows is an emergency rendition of “12 Days of Christmas” – for outfitting your home or car in case of snow storm, earthquake, flood or other emergency. Read it as a simple list, or sing it to the tune of “12 Days” – you know, as in “ … and a partridge in a pear tree…” Not to make light of it, but the song is a familiar framework for a set of gift ideas that you could consider gathering together, even if the recipient already owns items such as a bunch of coats, tire chains and flashlights. Stores throughout the Gorge are stocked up on all these items. Buying all 12 days might be prohibitive, but here are three ideas for checking any of the dozen off your list (notations follow, 1-12.) The gift items needed to stay warm, dry and safe are also coded to suggest items in your abode (A) in your car (C) or both (B). 12 Gallons of Water (A) 11 Family meals (B) 10 Cans of propane (A) 9 Hygiene bags (B) 8 Packs of batteries (A) 7 Spare coats (B) 6 Bright red flares (C) 5 Cozy blankets (B) 4 Tire chains (C) 3 Flashlights (B) 2 cell phone chargers (B) 1 And a crush-proof first aid kit (B) Price ranges? Here’s a few quotes for days Three, Two, Four and Nine: n A family gift of flashlights (three will run $15-30, Hood River Supply, Tum-A-Lum) n Cell phone chargers (two will run $30-60) n Tire chains (basic set, $30, Les Schwab, returnable if unused for the winter) n Family meals ($100 or so should cover the basics for three or four reasonably well-fed days) n The home kit should be kept in a handy place near an exit, and remember that water needs to be replenished every few months. If you have a solid first aid kit already, switch out the gift idea with “and-a-sto-o-u-t- tub-for it-all …” Otherwise, it’s a case of assembling your home or car kits and making sure all members of the family know what the resources are and how to use them (ie flares and propane). Emergency situations are at worst life-threatening, at best deeply uncomfortable if you and your family are left without power for an extended period, or traveling and find yourself in a situation where you need to wait out a storm, lengthy traffic delay, or other crisis. Notes on the 12 gift ideas: 12 – Gallons of water: that’s one per person in a four-member family to last for three days, the recommended minimum to be prepared for utility outages. 11 – Easy-open packaged goods, energy bars, dried food and nuts are good things to include for nutrition. Think of what your family of four needs for three days to stay fortified and hydrated (see number 12). Can-opener also recommended 10 – If you have a propane camping stove, keep extra fuel handy. 9 – Hygiene bags: put packaged moistened towelettes, toilet paper, and plastic ties in large garbage bags (for personal sanitation) Resource list courtesy of Hood River County Emergency Management, Barbara Ayers, manager/ 541-386-1213. The county also reminds residents to Get a Kit, Make A Plan to connect your family if separated, and Stay Informed. See www.co.hood-river.or.us to opt-in for citizen alerts. Enlarge