On February 27th The Mississippi College theater department will debut its feature performance of Hamlet. Hamlet is part of this year’s annual Shakespeare Festival. This production features a 90-minute adaptation by MC Alumna Marianne Savell. The show is directed by Phyllis W. Seawright, assistant professor of Communication, with student director Kim Dingess. The show is co-sponsored by the Communication Department and the English Department. This year’s show is dedicated to the memory of the festival founder, Dr. George Pittman, who passed away on New Year’s Day, 2014.
“Working with this show, with this cast, with this cutting, has brought this play to life for me in a way I’ve never encountered before, and I’ve been reading the play for a long time,” said Seawright. “I’ve never seen a live performance of it but I’ve seen many film adaptations and worked on two other adaptations of the play.”
This is a shorter adaptation of Shakespeare’s work because Hamlet is one of his longest works at four hours. Seawright said “It’s very flexible…frees you up to dig in and see what Hamlet is about for another audience and to get a group of actors the chance to do the show.”
Savell said Hamlet is one of her favorite Shakespeare plays. “It’s got humor, ghosts, antiquated love, parents messing up their kids and what are the kids going to do in response, murder by accident. To me it has everything of a great story,” said Savell. “It is epic, emotional, and smart.”
Hamlet is played by freshman Charlie Bell. This is Bell’s first production at MC but has gained much theater experience in high school and middle school. He said “It’s going to be like anything you’ve ever seen before. Because of this space, people will be right next to the action. We have entrances and exits through the audience, so I think that will be an interesting dynamic.”
“Rehearsal has been a lot of fun. The cast is great. We really enjoy hanging out with each other and making jokes. There’s lots of good energy.” Bell said he is most excited about expressing the emotion of the character. “Definitely the scenes where Hamlet feigns madness. The scenes where he is acting crazy in front of Polonius. The scene where he tells Claudius to seek Polonius in heaven or to seek him in the other place himself. Or just the scenes where he is being over the top and crazy.”
The part of Claudius is played by Josh Grant. Grant said “Even though this is a dark play, there are so many parts that will have you laughing. We certainly have had plenty of fun times joking around on stage. It has a lot of ups and downs with feelings but I think people will be very happy with that.”
The student director is Kim Dingess. “It’s the first time I’ve directed anything. It’s a bit daunting, especially since it’s Hamlet and everyone loves Hamlet.” Dingess said she was nervous at first but realized that with all of her experience in theater she would do fine as the director for Hamlet. “Rehearsal is going well. On the first day of practice without the book it went a lot better than expected.” Dingess is a graduate student studying Administration of Justice. She received her undergrad from MC in English Writing. She has been involved with the theater department since her freshman year.
Dingess said “There is a lot of talent. These actors and actresses are fabulous. They are going to make you laugh, make you cry, and fill your heart with joy.”
Feb. 27 at 7:00 p.m.
Feb. 28 at 12:00 noon and 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 1 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m.
Mar. 2 at 2:30 p.m.
All shows are in Aven Little Theater, basement of Aven Fine Arts Building, on the Clinton campus.
Tickets: $5 for students, MC employees, and senior adults; $10 general admission. Groups of 10 or more are $4 each. Ticket reservation line: 601.925.3935
– James Osborne, Contributing Writer