March 2009, Volume 13, Number 3

Cultural Spotlight

A different Hamlet at Kendall Campus

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The ghost of actor John Barrymore visited Miami Dade College last month.

Well, not exactly.

A production of I Hate Hamlet – featuring the specter of the famed thespian as a lead – recently played at the Martin and Pat Fine Center for the Arts at MDC’s Kendall Campus.

Written by Paul Rudnick, the dramatic comedy is set in John Barrymore’s former apartment in New York City. The play follows the new tenant, successful TV actor Andrew Rally, who struggles with taking on the dream role of Hamlet. At the same time, Rally comically endures the ghost of John Barrymore – dressed in period garb – who has returned with the sole purpose of convincing Rally to play the part.

“Rudnick is very funny and of course the play’s subject matter speaks to theater students, ” said Deborah Mello, theater professor. “It’s a contemporary American piece that is perfect for our students to explore.”

Kendall Campus’ music, theater and dance department staged the play. It was directed by alumnus Rick Adams, an acting coach and former professor who regularly works in local productions and appeared in the department’s 2008 production of The Man Who Came to Dinner.

The cast, on the other hand, was comprised solely of students in the Kendall Campus theater program. Students filled every necessary position in the theater, serving as house managers and ushers and assisting with lighting, sets, sound, make-up and costumes.

“It was a true ’student production,’” Mello said. “They did everything.”

The tone of the play makes the audience laugh at Shakespeare and, in turn, lessens any fear they may have about the master playwright. Armando Díaz, who played the ghost of John Barrymore, said it opened his eyes up to Shakespeare in new ways.

“I have always been apprehensive about the language of Shakespeare but this play allowed me to study particular aspects of Hamlet without taking on the entire role,” said Diaz.

Mello agreed. “This play offered a unique way to experience Shakespeare – a gentle introduction,” she said.

I Hate Hamlet was originally produced on Broadway and opened at the Walter Kerr Theatre on April 8, 1991.

— Katherine Joss


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