Hamlet on Alcatraz Island

Posted by Bel. The time is 2.49pm here in Wellington NZ.

A San Francisco based theatre company will be performing Shakespeare's Hamlet in a site-specific production later this year. The site? Alcatraz Island, home to one of America's most notorious prisons.

Known as 'The Rock', until 1963 it was the final resort for incarcerating criminals such as Al Capone and many other mobsters and scumbags. It is now part-tourist attraction, part-nature reserve - and some say still haunted by its troubled past. Lou told me it gave her the heebee-jeebees when she visited here in daylight hours!

We Players will be staging a show that delves into the themes of isolation, justice and redemption, leading the audience on a journey around the island setting...

Hamlet has always struck me as a story where the character's lack of criminality caused him more trouble than anything else - perhaps a more fitting choice would have been MacBeth (that guy needed to be locked up!) or The Tempest (Island! Helllooo!)?

2 thoughts on “Hamlet on Alcatraz Island”

  1. OH. MY. GOD.

    I have to go.

    Oh my god.

    The setting is perfect for Hamlet - he feels like Elsinore is a prison due to its isolation, winter and the rankness of his uncle (and mother)'s actions etc.

  2. Ha. We Players did Macbeth a couple of years ago at Fort Point. And they also did the Tempest on the Albany Bulb, just before that––but good thoughts. Here's a thought as to WHY Hamlet...

    The play deals with a man in isolation. He is struggling with how to be––even whether to be––and what to do; how to grapple with his filial obligations, his social obligations, and his obligations to the state, as well as his own sensibilities, and the essential human problems around putting thought into action. It is also a story about murder and it’s consequences.

    Also: "Denmark is a prison."

    And: The whole rest of the nutshell scene.

    It seems to me a natural fit. I'm also probably a bit biased. Ha.