Ilissos will celebrate Shakespeare’s life by presenting a version of his play Hamlet that is suggested by research the version his original audiences would have been familiar with. 

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Running at the Cockpit Theatre from the 5th to the 30th April, this new production aims to challenge everything that we thought we knew about the play and its author.

The production will run in line with the British Library’s upcoming  blockbuster exhibition, Shakespeare in Ten Acts, in which the mysterious first version of Hamlet will be the centre of attention.

The text has rarely been performed since the original script turned up in a broom cupboard in 1823, but the publication last year of Professor Zachary Lesser’s sensational book, Hamlet after Q1, overturned the whole notion of the ‘bad quarto’.

This latest version of the play also aims to communicate and confront questions of the first Hamlet.Why is it that the most famous speech in the English language was originally printed as: 

To be, or not to be; ay, there’s the point.

To die, to sleep: is that all?  Ay, all.

No, to sleep, to dream; ay marry, there it goes.

Hamlet  will be directed by Charles Ward, one of the founding members of Park Theatre, a programming agent at the New Diorama Theatre, and a freelance speech writer.

Talking about the new production Ward commented: “I founded Ilissos in order to share my passion for the mysteries of the past, and to encourage arts organisations to collaborate in bold and imaginative ways.  Theatres are very good at catering for their own audiences, but we rarely make it easy to engage with different disciplines around the same subject.  The exhibition of this unique manuscript just down the road is a fantastic opportunity to inspire our audience to experience and learn more.” 

In terms of casting for the production, the company will be led by Nicholas Limm as Hamlet.  This is Limm’s first major part since graduating from Central School of Speech and Drama. The production will also star Pauline Munro, who came to light when she was cast as Hermia in Peter Brook’s famous 1970 production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

Hamlet will appear at the Cockpit Theatre from the 5th to the 30th April. For more information and to book tickets visit: http://www.thecockpit.org.uk/show/hamlet_1

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