The Houston Shakespeare Festival opens their 44th season with a female-led production of Shakespeare’s gripping masterpiece, “Hamlet”, followed by the riotous farce of mistaken identity, “The Comedy of Errors”.
“This year’s Houston Shakespeare Festival acting company includes more women than men, which is rare for professional companies specializing in classical work,” says HSF Executive Director Rob Shimko. Not only will UH alumna Shannon Hill take on the title role of Hamlet, but a number of women — including Hill — will play male roles in “The Comedy of Errors”. Shimko continues, “It's important to note that we’re not changing the genders of the characters — Hamlet is still a man in the play, performed by a woman. For us it’s less about gender play and more about presenting incredible classically trained actors playing challenging roles regardless of gender.”
Something is Rotten in the State of Denmark
“Hamlet” opens with the young prince summoned back home from university only to find his world turned upside down. Just one month after his father’s untimely death, his mother has re-married his uncle and his father’s unhappy ghost is haunting the halls with a vengeance. Plagued by melancholy and suspicion, Hamlet must navigate an unwelcoming home in order to unearth the truth — or die trying.
Directed by HSF veteran Jack Young, “Hamlet” takes the audience on a journey through the Danish court of corruption viewed through the lens of the tormented protagonist.
One of Shakespeare’s earliest comedies, “The Comedy of Errors” is a whirlwind of mayhem and mirth as two sets of twins, separated as infants, wreak havoc on the sleepy town of Ephesus. Antipholus of Syracruse sets the chaos in motion when he embarks on a journey to find his long-lost brother, also named Antipholus, accompanied by his servant Dromio, who was also separated from his twin brother. Together, they take the unassuming port town by storm.
“The Comedy of Errors”, also directed by Young, offers a hysterical counterpoint to the drama of “Hamlet” so audiences can experience the best of both worlds this summer.