A note about the show...

from creator and performer Kevin Klassen

I have wanted to play the role of Hamlet since reading the play for the first time in grade 12: before I even knew that I wanted to be a professional actor. Since entering my 40s, I have grown increasingly troubled by the awareness that if I didn’t create my own opportunity to play this role, it would never happen. One more bucket poured out into the sea of regret. I knew that the fringe festival is the least expensive way to produce theatre that has a hope of finding an audience, and I knew that, if nothing else, I wanted to act with Hamlet’s lines.

The concept was simple (and not very original): we start at the moment of Hamlet’s death, and watch him suffer through the purgatorial experience of having to re-live the events which led to his demise. I asked my wife (and Echo Theatre Artistic Producer) if she might be able to get behind presenting this project at Dalnavert (mainly to add a sense of production value). She said she could, but only if we did it in the dining room (fortunately for me, she can be very particular). So I contacted the brilliant jaymez, to see if he would be willing to create some projected images to replace the absent actors. I’m guessing he thought the idea was ‘so crazy it just might work’. Then, not long before the deadline for BYOV applications, I had a crisis of conscience.

I have, for obvious reasons, become overwhelmingly aware - as a white, able-bodied, healthy, hetero, cis, middle-aged, middle-class, Canadian male - of my privilege. And, suddenly, spending whatever resources I had at my disposal to create for myself a one-actor version of Hamlet, instead of a play that brings awareness to any one of a multitude of social issues and systemic oppressions confronting the majority of people who aren’t me, seemed irresponsible. I decided to read what I had adapted one more time before officially pulling the plug on the project.

And just as suddenly, by reading it from this perspective, I realized that there might be a way to accomplish both goals. I heard myself working through the most famous soliloquy in the English language, and phrases like “The Oppressor’s wrong”, and “The pangs of dispriz’d Love”, and “the Law’s delay” resonated with inescapable urgency, and symbolic application, not just to the existential plight of being a thinking, feeling human being, but to local and global nightmares that are occurring right now as you read this. And I realized that this piece could (must) also be about my own struggle to become a person who not only thinks and speaks about the injustices and inequities of our society and culture, but also acts.

So I’m trying to tell three stories: the story of what happens to Hamlet; the story of Hamlet trying to come to terms with his own culpability in what has happened to him; and the story of me coming to terms with the inherent absurdity and potential futility of trying to create a Hamlet that will affect positive change in the world. And, indispensably, the people in the audience who are there to bear witness to all of it.

I will be sincerely grateful if you choose to be among them.

With Love and Respect,

Kevin

Echo Logo design by Kendra Magnus-Johnston

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