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With his five-hour production of Ham-let (1993-4), director José Celso Martinez Corrêa, known as Zé Celso, shocked purists who prefer not to see the Shakespearean text desecrated, but he was equally revered by his creative talent. In proposing a Brazilian Hamlet, this exuberant rendition achieves a liberation from the Shakespearean text by proclaiming and celebrating its affiliations to Brazilian culture and themes. For instance, the festivities for the new king are situated within the Brazilian context of carnival. Carnival here, as well as in other scenes, becomes an important signifier which sheds light on the universe of corruption and reversal of roles that assails Denmark and contemporary Brazil. Mikhail Bakhtin’s concept of carnivalization is a useful tool to understand Zé Celso’s theatrical practices (such as profanity, parodic inversions, de-sacralization, shamelessness, joy and exaltation of the body, among others). Ham-let celebrates theatre and life on the stage and offers an example of Zé Celso’s provocative “orgiastic performances”. A display of a raw theatrical aesthetics where actors use and exalt their bodies to communicate and perform rituals, some suggested the production came close to madness, but few would disagree that there was method in’t.
Teatro Oficina Theatre Company offered open rehearsal performances of Ham-let in nine cities in the state of São Paulo before its premiere at the inauguration of the Teatro Oficina, in 1993. It was performed for 9 months in São Paulo and one month in Rio de Janeiro. According to Brazilian Shakespearean scholar Aimara Resende (Resende, Aimara. “Introduction: Brazilian Appropriations of Shakespeare” in Foreign Accents: Brazilian Readings of Shakespeare, Ed. Aimara Resende. London: Rosemont Publishing & Printing Corp, 2002, 27. Print. ), numbers of young people began dressing in black to emulate the disturbed prince, influenced by the powerful performance.
Ham-let won the Shell awards for best costume and director, and was nominated for best lighting and music. It also received the Mambembe special award for the re-opening of the Teatro Oficina and for best actor. It has been watched by over 30.000 people.
Teatro Oficina homepage (Zé Celso’s theatre company)
Director: José Celso Martinez Correa
DVD Director: Tadeu Jungle
DVD Director Assistant: Elaine Cesar
Translation and Adaptation: José Celso Martinez Correa, Marcelo Drummond e Nelson de Sá
Music and Musical Director: Péricles Cavalcanti Massacração da Primavera e 4 Estações Zé Miguel Wisnik
Sound track: Zé Celso
Art and Setting Director: Hélio Eichbauer
Art Director for DVD: Cristiane Cortílio
Costume: Caio da Rocha
Lighting: Cibele Forjaz
Video: Tommy Pietra, Maurício Shirakawa e Fernando Coimbra
Ham-let: Marcelo Drummond
Ghost: 1st Actor Zé Celso
Rosencrantz, Hecuba, 1st Actress, Gravedigger: Denise Assunção
Polonius, Francisco, Galo da Alvorada, Captain , Sailor, Gravedigger (Second Man), Brazilian Messenger: Pascoal da Conceição
Queen Gertrude: Gisela Marques
King Claudius: Walney Costa
Horatio: Boa Vadim Nikitin
Fortinbras, Trumpet, Clarinet: Fernando Alves Pinto
Guildenstern, Marcelo, Yorick, Nurse: Adão Filho
Laertes, Boa, Security guard, Nurse, Old Miamista Fortimbras’ Uncle: Fransérgio Araújo
Ophelia: Tila Teixeira
Furies: Luciana Domschke, Letícia Coura
Bernardo, Boa, Luciano, Security guard, Nunc, Sailor: Padre Flávio Rocha
Osric, Boa, Toxic-Bacteriologic Material Specialist, Old Miamista Fortinbras’ Uncle Tio, Sailor, Mme Clessy, Actor-Video: Fernando Coimbra
Cornelius, Fury: Camila Mota
Voltemand, Polonius’ Secretary, Fury: Sylvia Prado
Prompters: Alexsandro Silva e Marcelo Gazotti
Chorus – Companhia de Teatro Comum, All the cast and sometimes the audience.
Production notes provided by: Cris Busato Smith
Note: This is the full video
Ham-let Angels and Ministers of Grace
Note: Hamlet speaks to his father's spirit.