Monday night, the Firehouse Theatre presents “A Gender-Reversed Exploration of Hamlet” by William Shakespeare.
The performance conceived and directed by Billy Christopher Maupin is a new venture into one of Shakespeares most highly regarded works.
With a female Hamlet and a male Ophelia, the tables are turned on the classic tale of self vs. self, sex, drugs, and murder.
“We’re being very loyal to the text, but kind of throwing away some of the major traditional ideas of ’this is how Hamlet is done’ or ‘this is what Hamlet is,’” Maupin said. ”It’s another way to view the play.”
The gender reversal is intended for the actors to bring the unique experiences and emotions they have as a man or a woman to the character.
Maupin said it tells the story through another lens.
“It can bring out other aspects of the characters that one mightn’t generally find in Hamlet.” he said.
In one scene involving Ophelia, Laertes, and Polonius, the actors were able to take the family dynamic to an unexpected place.
“I had a certain vision, but when these particular actors played the scene it became immediately apparent that their familial relationship was almost completely opposite of what I had planned,” Maupin said. ”I don’t think that would have happened with different actors in those roles…perhaps especially if played by two men and a woman.”
No pronouns were changed in the script, leaving Hamlet a he and Gertrude a she. Aside from some customary cuts from the regularly four-and-a-half hour long Hamlet by Shakespeare, Maupin said this two hour production stays true to the classic story.
“A Gender-Reversed Exploration of Hamlet” is Monday, July 18, 7:30 p.m. at the Firehouse Theatre Project, 1609 W. Broad St. Tickets are $5 at the door.