The Public Theater, in association with St. Ann's Warehouse, opens its 2007-2008 season with The Wooster Group's Hamlet, a wildly inventive take on Shakespeare's best-known tragedy. Elizabeth LeCompte directs.
The Wooster Group's Hamlet is an archeological excursion into an icon of America's cultural past, Richard Burton's Hamlet. This legendary 1964 Broadway production was recorded in performance and shown as a film for two days only in 2000 U.S. movie houses. The idea of bringing a live theater experience to thousands of simultaneous viewers in different cities was trumpeted as a new form called "Theatrofilm."
The Group's Hamlet attempts to reverse this process, reconstructing a hypothetical theater piece from the fragmentary evidence of the edited film, like an archeologist inferring an improbable temple from a collection of ruins. Channeling the ghost of the 1964 performance, the Group descends into a kind of madness, intentionally replacing its own spirit with the spirit of another.