Arizona Daily Wildcat
Student-directed production of "Hamlet" to perform at Flandrau
English playwright William Shakespeare often unveiled his classic plays in the earthily-named Globe Theatre, but this month, his works are being performed among the outer-worldly cosmos at UA's Flaundrau planetarium.
English and theater arts senior Anne Heintz is directing a production of "Hamlet" inside the planetarium for her undergraduate honors thesis. It marks the first major production in the planetarium's history.
"We've done smaller performances like this before," said Michael Magee, Flandrau Planetarium operations manager. "This is the first time we've done a full, two-hour Shakespearean work."
The idea for the production, Heintz said, came from a research assignment on Shakespeare's connections to astronomy, which she exhibited at last year's Student Showcase.
With some help from her advisor, associate humanities professor Richard Poss, Heintz approached Flandrau officials with the idea.
"They said yes," Heintz said. "They said that they wanted to get more arts."
Heintz selected the 16-member cast after an audition of more than 50 actors, drawing from a wide variety of talent around the University of Arizona and Tucson.
"There's actors from all over. Some are UA students, some don't go here," Heintz said. "There's Dan (Baerg), who's 53, who works in the President's (Likins') office."
Heintz said she will utilize the facilities of the planetarium throughout the majority of the performance.
"We are using all of the effects," Heintz said. "For example, every time that Hamlet refers to the sun, then we bring up a sun on screen."
Those same facilities, however, have caused the cast to adapt its performance. The relatively small stage, for instance, will force the actors to go out into the audience for most of the play, or perform "in the round."
"They (the actors) do interact with the audience," she said. "When Ophelia gives out flowers, she gives out flowers to the audience. Hamlet talks directly to the audience."
David Lee, a theater arts senior, will take the stage as Hamlet. He said that the combination of the star projector and the stage is a new experience for him.
"I have performed in the round, but I can't really compare this space to anything I have ever worked in before," Lee said. "It is so bizarre to be surrounded by all this technology that's moving and lighting up and acting while you're on stage."
Heintz advertised for the play with posters and fliers as well as seven commercial spots on KOLD, Tucson's CBS affiliate, which are scheduled to run this week.
"One of my actors works for CBS," Heintz said. "I met the guy who does the commercials up there, and he is so sick of doing, like, hemorrhoid cream commercials. He said that he would love to help."
Heintz said that she hopes the play does more than entertain - she wants it to help unite the university.
"I really want this show to be about bringing the departments together, like bringing the astronomy department together with the theater department together with the English department," she said. "You major in one thing while you are in college, but there is just so much on this campus that you never think about or attend."
Heintz's rendition of Shakespeare's famous piece may not be the same play that many are accustomed to seeing - rather, it is an interactive and captivating performance, she said.
"It's such a unique approach to the play that anyone who is coming in with pre-conceived notions of what 'Hamlet' is is going to have to marry those with our production," Lee said. "It is going to challenge a lot of people's views of what the play is."