Hamlet comes to town with a touch of Chilean spice

As summer sets in on the streets of Santiago and the temperature is rising, the cultural events of the season are starting to bloom.

The King and Laertes (photo courtesy of GAM)
The King and Laertes (photo courtesy of GAM)

True to form, the GAM cultural center is currently hosting a previously-unstaged production of Shakespeare’s masterpiece, Hamlet. According to the producers, Raúl Zurita y Gustavo Meza, this is a new version of the old classic, more contemporary and combative.

In creating the scenery, the set designer Ramón López imagined the fictional Denmark as a jail. Without taking the term too literally, and avoiding bars altogether, he has used the element of steel to create the feeling of confinement so pervasive in this story.

The full cast (photo courtesy of GAM)
The full cast (photo courtesy of GAM)

Illuminated with dim lighting to bring out the eerie undertones, the set also plays with a juxtaposition of costumes that jump between styles from the eleventh century to an uncertain futuristic tomorrow and everything in between. This is one of the most important aspects of this stunning production: the clever combination of the classic and the modern.

This play between old and new also comes out in the actors’ words, which artfully interweave old recitative Spanish and our unique contemporary Chilean slang. Also, mind Ophelia's sweet songs... you might find a little national history in the lyrics.

Jorge Becker, who plays Hamlet, says he sees his character as the one little light among the others, trying to enlighten them as he undergoes his own dimming down. This is the combative Hamlet, Becker states. Strong, like an arrow that goes straight to its target.

In the creation of his version of Hamlet, he clearly draws on characteristics of Chile's current national context, a country which is constantly fighting for its ideals and dreams, as if to make Hamlet’s presence felt even stronger amongst us.

Ophelia's death (photo courtesy of GAM)
Ophelia's death (photo courtesy of GAM)

The play opened on November 17 and runs through December 16 on the main stage at GAM. Tickets are available at the cultural center’s box office. This production is part of a series of Shakespeare's workshops that the GAM has scheduled throughout November and December.

Gustavo Meza directs the production with the brilliant Jorge Becker as Hamlet and the beautiful Cata Silva as Ophelia. It is performed in Spanish only so, for foreigners up to the language challenge, this is the perfect chance to see a powerful, and very Chilean, version of Shakespeare’s classic tragedy of love and loyalty.

Centro Cultural Gabriela Mistral (GAM)
Avenida Libertador General Bernardo O'Higgins 227, Santiago
Metro Universidad Católica
(0)2 566 5500
www.gam.cl?

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