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Internationally Acclaimed HAMLET Returns to South Africa for Limited Engagement Before Heading Off to the USA

Internationally Acclaimed HAMLET Returns to South Africa for Limited Engagement Before Heading Off to the USA
Marcel Meyer in the title role of HAMLET
Photo credit: Fiona MacPherson

After playing to 5 star reviews and standing ovations at the National Arts Festival and in Europe, Pieter Toerien proudly presients a limited season of Abrahamse & Meyer's internationally acclaimed HAMLET at Theatre on the Bay in April and Pieter Toerien's Theatre at Montecasino in May. The production transfers to La MaMa in New York City in September 2017.

The Abrahamse & Meyer production takes its inspiration from one of the earliest recorded performances of HAMLET during Shakespeare's lifetime. In 1608, off the East Coast of South Africa, the crew of the East India ship, The Red Dragon performed HAMLET aboard their ship. In his log, on 31 March 1608, Captain Keeling noted: "I invited Captain Hawkins to a fish dinner, and had HAMLET acted aboard me, which I permit to keep my people from idleness and unlawful games or sleep."

This production of HAMLET re-imagines Shakespeare's most iconic play within the context of the historic performance aboard The Red Dragon as a play within a play, utilising a cast of only six actors playing six Jacobean sailors who, in turn, play all the parts in Shakespeare's HAMLET.

The production stars Marcel Meyer in the title role, with a veteran Shakespearean actor, Michael Richard, taking the role of King Claudius. Dean Balie doubles as Polonius and Horatio, with Jeremy Richard as Laertes, Matthew Baldwin as Ophelia and Callum Tilbury as Queen Gertrude.

HAMLET is directed by Fred Abrahamse who has, over a 35-year career, directed over 150 productions in all genres, including classical theatre, opera, musical theatre and contemporary plays. One of Abrahamse's most recent local successes was a sell-out season of Tennessee Williams's THE HOTEL PLAYS at the Vineyard Hotel in Newlands.

Over the last five years, Abrahamse & Meyer Productions have produced some of the most successful Shakespeare productions in South Africa like the award-winning three-man TRAGEDY OF RICHARD III (2010 and 2011), a four-man ROMEO AND JULIET (2011) and the immensely popular Maynardville productions of A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM (2013) and OTHELLO (2015 and 2016), which have been presented in 20 different seasons on two continents, three provinces, six cities and have collectively garnered 13 Fleur du Cap Theatre Award Nominations over the years.

On 12 April, Theatre on the Bay's first ever Cape Talk talk-back panel discussion will take place immediately after the first performance of HAMLET. This event will give attending patrons an exclusive opportunity to engage with a panel of leading Shakespeareans and gain rare insights into this most fascinating of Shakespeare's plays. The panel will be chaired by veteran Cape Talk presenter, John Maytham, who trained as an actor and has been working in radio for more than twenty years. Maytham is regarded as one of the most erudite personalities on air and is sure to bring his hallmark wit, intelligence and conversational flair to the proceedings. He will be joined by Dr Derrick Higginbotham from the University of Cape Town, who lectures at the English Department there and whose research interests include Shakespeare and his contemporaries and Late Medieval and Early Modern English Theatre. Joining the panel from the production itself are Abrahamse, Meyer (who also played Rosencrantz in Dame Janet Suzman's 2006 Baxter/RSC production) and Richard (who played the titular role in 1978 and Laertes in a 1983 SABC film version of the play).

HAMLET runs at Theatre on the Bay from 12 - 29 April, nightly at 19:30, with daytime performances on various days. The show will then play Pieter Toerien's Theatre at Montecasino from 3 - 21 May. Tickets cost R100 - R180 via Computicket or 08619158000. Group and school bookings are available via email or by phone on 0214383301.

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