Although it’s not a comedy, Ghost Light Players director Jeffery Bastien says his upcoming production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet is partly inspired by the movie Strange Brew. That’s the one where Canada’s most famous hosers, Bob and Doug McKenzie, get jobs at the Elsinore Brewery, only to learn that something is rotten with the state of it.
“I’ve seen Branagh’s, some of Mel Gibson’s, some of Ethan Hawke’s, and the latest in Stratford, but I’ve been avoiding other productions as I don’t want to be influenced,” Bastien told 519 Magazine. “I haven’t seen one that’s taken the route I have, so they can only give me limited assistance. I guess my willingness to go a different direction would be most influenced by Strange Brew! Having said that: our production isn’t a comedy!”
This new reimaging of Hamlet is set to take the stage at the all-new Walkerville Arts Centre at 1519 Wyandotte Street East in Windsor from Nov. 22 to Dec. 1. The Ghost Light production will place the Hamlet story inside a Wall Street environment filled with greed, power, survival and corruption. It’s an approach to the story Bastien has wanted to stage for years.
“We live in a time where we’re mostly ignorant of what’s happening above us,” he explained. “By above us, I mean the hyper-wealthy, that 1% that couldn’t care less about us. There is such a schism between us and them that it is a new form of royalty. Oligarchy is a new form of feudal state. We can see Disney growing like we saw the USSR grow in our lifetime, or British, or the Romans. Corporations are People and cluster can be seen as Countries, and war is happening all the time. In that world, your problems and my problems are ineffectual and trite; their problems have consequences felt around the world. But the thing is, these Corporations still have people in them, and people still have these base urges. Greed, power, survival, loyalty, corruption, lust – all of this exists and influences and is magnified by those absurdly huge circumstances. Still, at the end of the day, that world is alien to us, much like the Court of Kings and Queens would’ve been alien to anyone in the Globe Theatre.”
Bastien is giving the show a very modern and physical approach not used by many in a Shakespearean environment.
“I have taken a very physical and movement based approach,” Bastien said. “I started GLP with the intention of going in this direction, and, for all the shows I’ve directed for this Company, one can see a through-line of physicality. What do I mean by Physical and Movement based? I mean Anne Bogart and Tina Landau’s Viewpoints system, with some of Michael Chekhov’s physical work, some of Meyerhold’s Biomechanics. All of this is taught at the University of Windsor and now I’m blessed to work with a lot of their students and grads. And my veteran actors have been following me on this path since 2014 when I started directing “Bug”. Now, that’s not to mean that it’ll be a dance show, but I have made every effort to make the text a catalyst for kinetic response, not loving ourselves for speaking the Bard’s Verse. I want the audience to see powerful images that convey the themes, the ideas we’re trying to express through our bodies, as me move through the text. The text is the spine and the cast makes it organic, adds the visceral.”
Hamlet opens at the new Walkerville Arts Centre on Wyandotte in Windsor on Nov. 22 and runs until Dec. 1.