Union University Players to present modernized version of Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’

The Union University Players rehearse a scene from Shakespeare’s ‘Hamlet’ Feb. 20 in W.D. Powell Theatre. | Photo by Anne Richoux

The Union University Players will present “Hamlet” March 20-25.  The tragedy by  William Shakespeare will be directed by David Burke, director of theatre.

Written in the late 14th century, “Hamlet” is one of few Shakespeare plays that the Union University Players has performed.

Burke said this is a play he has had on his “bucket list” to direct.

“A lot of people would argue it’s the most famous play in the history of the English language,” Burke said. “It centers around Hamlet knowing he has to avenge his father’s death.”

The characters include Hamlet, played by Will Burke; Claudius, played by Jay Griffith; Queen Gertrude, played by Allison Hearn; Polonius, played by Caitie Vance; Ophelia, played by Elizabel Sartin; and Horatio, played by Peter Riggs.

Riggs, senior philosophy major, is acting in his sixth play at Union with his role as Horatio.

“We have a really talented cast. That’s been really exciting,” Riggs said. “We really believe in each other.”

Riggs’ friend and roommate, Will Burke, plays Hamlet.

“It’s really fun to see Will be Hamlet,” Riggs said. “It’s fun because I get to hear about his thought behind what he does and know what’s going on inside his head on stage even when the audience and the director might not.”

Riggs said this production of “Hamlet” will be different than others, because it has been altered to be more appealing to a modern audience.

“Hamlet is about death and family and being effected and torn apart,” Riggs said. “I think this modernized version of Shakespeare’s great work will be more effective than just reading it or going to see another production.”

Hearn, senior theatre major, said this idea of being torn apart is apparent in the set itself.

“Things are kind of falling apart and rusty,” Hearn said. “It’s kind of open and bare. It lets the action and the words speak for themselves.”

For Hearn, Hamlet explores ideas of madness and sanity in the human condition.

“There’s a lot of psychology in it,” Hearn said. “All of the characters are kind of up for interpretation.”

Burke said Hamlet is a portrayal of catharsis and surrender.

“It’s embracing your struggle and holding it tight,” Burke said. “Learning as much as you can from it, having a release and moving on. You need a release in order to move on. I think Hamlet has that release that leads to great healing.”


Hamlet opens at 7:30 p.m. March 20 in W.D. Powell Theatre in the Penick Academic Complex. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. Thursday through Tuesday and at 2:30 p.m.  Sunday, March 23. Admission is $7 for the general public and $3 for faculty, staff and students.

Image courtesy of Cardinal & Cream|Cardinal & Cream