The Montford Park Players will open Hamlet on Friday, September 7. Adapted and directed by Melon Wedick, the free production will be held on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 7:30 p.m. at the Hazel Robinson Ampitheatre through Sunday, September 30. Wedick has been fascinated with Hamlet for more than 20 years. “I can’t remember who I was before it found me,” she says of the play. “To me, Hamlet is the most human and relatable of any of Shakespeare’s characters—his humor, his perfectionism, his endless self-doubt.”
The role of Hamlet will be performed by Jon Stockdale. Stockdale performed the role once, 15 years ago, at a small Shakespeare festival after just 10 days of rehearsal. With several months of rehearsal for this production, Stockdale says his experience with the character this time has been far richer. “I wasn’t cast as Hamlet because I was the ‘best’ actor who auditioned,” he says, “but because I’m a good fit for the character. All I need to do is react as honestly as I can to the situation and my castmates and the performance arises naturally out of that.”
Stockdale calls Wedick’s adaptation of Hamlet “electrifying. It’s a clear, direct, exciting telling of Hamlet, so that people who aren’t incredibly familiar with the play will be able to understand exactly what’s happening and get caught up in the story.” Wedick says her adaptation is radical, but very focused on clarity for the audience. “My hope is that every person who walks away from this play will hear something they’ve never heard before and will walk away with a new line of Virgil, or of Shakespeare, echoing in their heads,” she says.
Hazel Robinson Ampitheatre is located at 92 Gay Street in Asheville. For more information, visit montfordparkplayers.org.