Stratford: “Hamlet” begins previews at the Stratford Festival

Tuesday, May 17, 2022

A royal family crisis unfolds on stage at the Festival Theatre as Hamlet begins its run today. Making Festival history is Amaka Umeh, the first Black actor to play Hamlet at Stratford.

This fast-paced production of the Shakespearean mystery-thriller set in modern day is directed by Peter Pasyk, with Set Designer Patrick Lavender, Costume Designer Michelle Bohn, Lighting Designer Kimberly Purtell and Composer and Sound Designer Richard Feren.

Hamlet has captivated audiences for centuries because it holds a mirror up to the audience and shows us who we are,” says Pasyk. “At its heart it remains a mystery because it reveals more about ourselves than itself. It is a tragedy that touches on profound questions about why we live. Prince Hamlet is placed in a moral quandary when his father’s ghost demands vengeance against his brother who now wears the crown and who, having married the widowed queen, is now not only Hamlet’s uncle but also his stepfather.”

Amaka Umeh as Hamlet is joined by Graham Abbey as the King of Denmark, Hamlet’s uncle, Claudius; Maev Beaty as the Queen, Hamlet’s mother, Gertrude; Austin Eckert as Laertes; Jakob Ehman as Horatio; Ijeoma Emesowum as Guildenstern; Andrea Rankin as Ophelia; Michael Spencer-Davis as Polonius; and Norman Yeung as Rosencrantz; with Hilary Adams, Bola Aiyeola, Celia Aloma, isi bhakhomen, Laura Condlln, Rachel Jones, Matthew Kabwe, John Kirkpatrick, Kevin Kruchkywich, Josue Laboucane, Ngabo Nabea, Anthony Santiago and Tyrone Savage.

Hamlet has its official opening on June 2, with a red-carpet gala performance marking the Festival’s 70th season. It runs until October 28 in the Festival Theatre. Tickets are available at www.stratfordfestival.ca or by calling 1.800.567.1600.

Production support is generously provided by Phyllis & Robert Couzin, and by John & Therese Gardner.

This production is dedicated to the memory of Brent Carver and Christopher Plummer.

The 2022 season also features Chicago, The Miser, Little Women, Richard III, All’s Well That Ends Well, Death and the King’s Horseman, Every Little Nookie, Hamlet-911 and 1939. For more information, visit www.stratfordfestival.ca

Photo: Jordan Mah, Amaka Umeh and Graham Abbey. © 2022 David Hou.