Costa Rican producer brings 'Hamlet' to the Philippines, eyes staging of more plays next year (Business Mirror (Philippines))

THESPIANS at heart and classic literature fans will have a reason to practice their monologue, as Shakespeare’s Hamlet makes its way to Philippine shore today as part of a global tour in celebration of the 450th birth anniversary of the Britain’s most influential playwright.

Brought to over 100 countries since last year, the Globe-To-Globe Hamlet is supported by the British Embassy, British Council and the British Chamber of Commerce in its goal to promote cultural education in a diverse range of communities.

International stage producer Steve Aronson, who is making Hamlet in the Philippine stage possible, said the play remains one of the most powerful tragedies written. He said Hamlet provides a stream of themes that are universal, timeless and relatable to every generation.

The Costa Rican producer said Shakespeare’s work can be connected to various issues and concepts. Hamlet deals with the occurrence of ghosts to the duties of those in authority to sexuality to religious preferences to family relationships to the search for one’s identity among others, Aronson agreed.

Hamlet’s relevance to the Philippines could be looked at in many ways, like how the birth of Shakespeare coincided with the arrival of the Spanish arrival in Cebu. Or how the characters could be a metaphor for post-war Filipino history, Aronson said.

He also noted the play’s ability to speak to the millennial generation who are trying to find their place in the world.

Aiming for a more Shakespearean setting, Aronson said the play was supposed to be done at the Rajah Sulayman Theater in Intramuros. But since the play was scheduled to be performed in the Philippines in August, local partners suggested Hamlet be moved indoors.

Hamlet will be performed twice at the Tanghalang Aurelio Tolentino in Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), and is expected to be attended by both young and old. Aronson said the matinee showing is for the students, and will involve an interactive QandA session with the actors. The gala schedule will be more for the adults, and is expected to be attended by members of the British Council and the British Embassy in a bid to strengthen their campaign and promotion of Shakespeare’s works and Great Britain’s advocacy for enhancing culture and arts education.

Globe-To-Globe Hamlet will run for two hours and 40 minutes, and is composed of a 12-man cast performing 24 characters from the play.

Meanwhile, Aronson said Filipino theater lovers can expect more plays from the Great Britain. Aronson, head of the Asociacion Cultural Terruno Espressivo, said he is looking at staging more theater productions in the Philippines, including the Shakespearean comedy The Taming of the Shrew, which he hopes to stage next year.

The whole idea is to bring the plays to different parts of the Philippines, to go hop around the country in 10 days. We will bring the play to Cebu and General Santos City, Aronson said.

Aronson added that Taming of the Shrew is the ideal Shakespeare play to take to the provinces because of its approachable style and plot. He said the discussion on the role of women, which is tackled in the play, also serves as an appropriate theme that can be brought to the different places in the country.

CCP Vice President and Artistic Director Chris B. Millado said having more international productions for the Filipino audience help inspire artists on their craft and invite broader range of audience.

The reason we have international productions is also for our local audiences to see productions of great reputation. It definitely inspires our local artist and it sets standards of excellence that we need to strive for. It just broadens our vocabulary in terms of the performing arts, Millado said.