“Prince Hamlet,” an untraditional take on the Shakespearean tragedy, will open the Center for the Performing Arts for Penn State’s 2022-23 season. Photo by Brownen Sharp
A new perspective on the Shakespearean fall of a man will open the 2022-2023 season of the Center for the Performing Arts at Penn State. “Prince Hamlet,” which features a gendered cast as well as American Sign Language and Dawn Jani Birley’s translation, challenges the idea of who can tell the 400-year-old story.
The center will host three performances of the Shakespearean tragedy, at 7:30 p.m. Friday. September 16 and 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Saturday, September 17 at the Playhouse Theatre. Visit “Prince Hamlet” on line for more information. Cast members will participate in a Q&A with interested audience members after the September 16 performance. ASL interpreters will be available in the lobby one hour before curtain up on performance days and will participate in the discussion after the performance.
Tickets — $35 for an adult, $5 for a University Park student, and $18 for someone 18 and under — are available at “Prince Hamlet” on line. Tickets will also be available by phone at 814-863-0255 or in person weekdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Eisenhower Auditorium.
The Why Not Theater production is adapted and directed by Ravi Jain, a former professional Cirque de Soleil clown. His reimagined tale features non-traditional characters and a fully integrated deaf actor in a production understandable to both deaf and hearing audiences. Birley, a Toronto Theater Critics Award-winning Best Actress, portrays Horatio and poetically delivers ASL in this highly visual narrative.
In a recent video chat with staff at the center, Jain said Birley had accepted the challenge of translating Shakespeare’s effusive nature, first by translating English into more efficient ASL, “and then into ASL with panache.” he declared.
Why Not Theater was founded in 2007 by Jain in response to his experiences with cultural adversity. Toronto society tackles modern issues with the belief that “there are more ways to see and hear people, it will help us see more in people we may have written off,” he said. -he declares.