HAMLET is particularly suited to the island for many reasons. It is a story of a man in isolation wrestling with conscience and consciousness, and is fraught with themes of grief, madness, loss, revenge - all of which extend from the core project themes of isolation, incarceration, and justice. We hope that the play, centered around these issues, will act as a catalyst for conversation.
The root of this conversation is about FREEDOM.
What is it to be free? Is it something that can be granted or taken away?
Or is it something more fundamentally personal than that?
How must I act? To do or not to do?
The show will be built in such a way as to serve both the regular park visitors, with many elements occurring in public areas, as well as the designated audiences who we will guide through a carefully crafted route through the space.
We have already begun conversations artists and teachers who work with local justice advocacy groups, juvenile offenders and with people living in maximum security prisons. We are building partnerships, gathering research, collecting works of art – all of which will be central to the final stage of the residency, culminating in summer 2011.
The Players are a group of traveling actors within Hamlet – and in our production, the Players will be performing virtually non-stop in a public area. In addition to the classical text, they will perform a wide variety of other material which is intended to contextualize the themes…this text will include poetry and first hand materials by those people directly affected by the issues we are exploring - people in prison and their families. The Native American community has a deep connection with the island, and we are inviting their voice into the process as well.
Alcatraz has a magnetic draw. About 5000 people per day in the high season visit the fog enshrouded island in the San Francisco Bay. It is legendary both in the national landscape and within international awareness as well. Both We Players and the National Park Service are asking, “What experience are people having?”, “What are they coming away with?”. This project reflects a true partnership between We Players and the NPS as we join in the shared goal of stimulating more critical conversation of important current issues, issues that are entrenched in the multi-layered history of The Rock.
We feel a tremendous responsibility to those people whose lives are immediately affected by these issues. Please send us your thoughts, reading suggestions, direct us to organizations and individuals you think we should contact.
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