Marowitz Hamlet

MARCH 15-24, 2012
By William Shakespeare
Director Charles Marowitz

What if one were to cut Shakespeare’s masterpiece up into individual lines and piece it back together to tell the story anew? This would be a Marowitz play. Using the same poetic language, Charles Marowitz reinvents Shakespeare’s classic play, revealing the layers of insanity in a young prince’s vengeance. Notorious for his Shakespearean collages, the acclaimed Broadway and West End playwright, director, and critic presents his radical reinterpretation that brings new insight and humour to speeches and characters’ motives. Marowitz has worked closely with the Royal Shakespeare Company, co-founded Encore Magazine and was a regular contributor to The New York Times, The London Times, Theater Week, and American Theatre.

Charles Marowitz

Charles Marowitz is one of the few people to successfully combine drama-criticism, acclaimed playwriting and a career in stage direction. He worked closely with Peter Brook at the Royal Shakespeare Company, and was also the founder and director of The Open Space Theatre in London’s West End. His play Sherlock’s Last Case was awarded the Louis B. Mayer Playwriting Award and presented on Broadway in the late 80s starring Frank Langella. His free adaptations of almost a dozen Shakespeare plays, collected in The Marowitz Shakespeare, are performed worldwide. He was the co-founder of Encore Magazine, lead critic for the Los Angeles Herald Examiner and a contributor to The New York Times, The London Times, Theater Week and American Theatre. He is currently a regular columnist on, the Cultural-Political bi-weekly online publication. He has over two dozen books to his credit including How To Stage A Play, Make a Fortune, Win a Tony and Become a Theatrical Icon; The Other Chekhov; Stage Dust: A Critic’s Cultural Scrapbook of the 1990s; and Roar of the Canon: Kott & Marowitz on Shakespeare. Marowitz has remounted The Marowitz Hamlet several times over his career, including a previous engagement with the Phoenix Theatre in 2003 as a small studio production.

Director's Notes

Among the classics, Hamlet is a very special case. It is the most often performed, the most widely read, the most thoroughly studied of Shakespeare’s plays. It has – quite literally – been done to death. It has become a myth, compounded of misunderstandings, distortions, and contradictions. It is a man in black sprawled on a gravestone with a skull in his hands. It is a man looking fixedly at empty air. It is everyone who cannot make up his mind; who talks one way and behaves another. It is the

wilful son of a vain mother, and the misunderstood stepson of an unsympathetic stepfather. It is the angry young man flouting conventions, and the cool hipster tuned into Zen contemplation and eschewing violence. It is the LSD tripper floating free on his ‘expanded consciousness’. It is the man caught between psychological uncertainties and moral necessities; the man who is provoked by Vietnam and paralysed by Vietnam, terrified by the Bomb and committed to the Bomb; the man weighted with the knowledge that in a corrupt world, whether one acts honourably or not at all, harm is done and corruption grows.

All of these pertinences are in the play, but not demonstrable because the play is imprisoned in its narrative. The play is the story, and to present ‘the play’ is to retell the story. No matter what the interpretation, it must be expressed through the narrative-line, through the progressive fiction of the play’s given situations. And it is this relentless narrativeness, this impregnable closed circuit of storylines, which constricts the power and suggestiveness of what the play has become. Once the narrative sequence is broken, one has direct access to the play’s ambiences. One rips open the golden lid of the treasure chest to find other riches within. After a rapid inventory there is nothing to prevent one from closing the lid once more.

Hamlet takes place in Hamlet. For a man locked in a fantasy, real and unreal are meaningless terms. Everything that enters Hamlet’s perceptions is real for him. In this collage of Hamlet, the dead King is mixed with the living King and then again with the Player-King; the dead father with the stepfather; the faithless mother with the seeming-faithless mistress; the past with the present; the actual with the illusory. We see sights because they are reflected through Hamlet’s sensibility. Elsinore is a figment of Hamlet’s imagination; so are Gertrude, Claudius, and the Ghost. So is poetry; so is comedy; so is pleasure and pain. Hamlet’s cerebrum is our cyclorama, his forehead our proscenium arch.

Show Dates

March 15 – 24, 2012
Previews @ 8 PM: March 13 & 14
Evenings @ 8 PM: March 15 (opening), 16* (lecture), 17, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, & 24
Matinee @ 2 PM: March 24

Friday, March 16 @ 7 PM
Michael Best, Professor Emeritus in the Department of English and the Founder and Coordinating Editor of Internet Shakespeare Editions, talks about how playwrights have been recycling and reinventing play material over the ages. He also places Charles Marowitz’s reinterpretation of Hamlet into this historical context. Click below to listen now.


Box office: Opens March 6, 2012
Call: 250.721.8000

For ticket prices, click here.

Seating Plan: Roger Bishop Theatre


Single Tickets
Charge by phone: 250-721-8000
or in person at the Phoenix Box Office

Friday & Saturday Evenings
All Seats $28

Wednesday, Thursday & Saturday Matinees
All Seats $26

Cheap Tuesdays
All Seats $15

NEW! Student Rush Tickets
30 minutes before every show: $16

UVic Alumni
Saturday Matinees: $21
(with UVic Alumni ONECard)

Performed in the Chief Dan George Theatre

Cast & Creative

Creative Team:

Guest Director Charles Marowitz
Co-Director Fran Gebhard
Set and Lighting Designer Bryan Kenney
Costume Designer Michelle Lo
Stage Manager Denay Amaral


Lucas Hall (Hamlet)
Randi Edmundson (Ophelia)
Mik Byskov (Laertes)
Kale Penny (Fortinbras)
Hayley Feigs (Gertrude)
Luke Pennock (Claudius)
Robin Gadsby (Ghost)
Jonathan Mason (Rosencrantz)
Kieran Wilson (Guildenstern)
Alex Frankson (Polonius/Clown)
Ian Simms (Captain/Company Member)
Carol Adamson (Company Member)
Molison Farmer (Company Member)



Strong language.
Scenes of violence and domestic abuse.
Suitable for ages 15+


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