Heiner Müller’s Hamletmachine may not offer any answers, but it certainly raises a lot of questions. University Theatre will stage this apocalyptic deconstruction of Shakespeare’s Hamlet in the Cellar Theatre of the Fine Arts Building Feb. 22-24 and Feb. 28-March 3 at 8 p.m. and March 4 at 2:30 p.m., with additional performances at 7 Stages’ Back Stage Theatre in Atlanta in March (www.7stages.org).
General admission to the Cellar Theatre performances is $10; admission for senior citizens and UGA students with valid ID is $8. Tickets may be purchased at the University Theatre box office located in the lobby of the Fine Arts Building at the corner of Lumpkin and Baldwin streets. The box office is open noon-5 p.m. weekdays. Tickets also may be purchased at the theatre door one hour prior to show time. Reservations may be made in advance by calling (706) 542-2838.
When he died in 1995 in Berlin, Müller was acknowledged as one of the greatest living German authors and the most important German dramatist since his mentor, Bertolt Brecht. Hamletmachine, produced in conjunction with the department of theatre and film studies’ Interactive Performance Lab, is Müller’s reaction to the political collapse of post-World War II Eastern Europe.
Something is rotten in the state of Denmark, as Hamlet said, and Müller offers a graphic image of a world rotting from the inside out, ecology mimicking the political state in a downward spiral to the next Ice Age.
Del Hamilton, artistic director of the 7 Stages Theatre in Atlanta, was invited by the department to direct the staging of this play. He is no stranger to UGA, having graduated from the university with a master of fine arts degree in drama in 1969.
“I’m directing a one-act play in the theatre where I directed my first one-act play, as a student,” said Hamilton. His last collaboration with the University Theatre was three years ago, when he directed Luigi Lunari’s Our Father.
This production of Hamletmachine is novel in its use of dramatic media to create a virtual actor, pal.Hamlet, who shares the character of Hamlet with real-life actor Norman Ferguson, member of UGA’s Graduate Acting Company. Ferguson spent considerable time in a motion-capture lab for this production, since the pal.Hamlet character is based on his body and voice.
“Working with this technology was one of the reasons why I wanted to come to UGA,” said Ferguson. “I feel very fortunate to be involved with this type of production. I was a little nervous at first, but then I was able to dive right in. I was taken aback when I saw the initial results, especially seeing my movements on a computer screen for the first time and thinking, ‘That’s me! Weird.’ But it was a good kind of weird.”