About This Clip
Hamlet sou eu (I am Hamlet)
In this children’s production of Hamlet, “to play” implies amusing or entertaining oneself while hearing a story, but also pretending to be someone else. These two ways of experiencing theater – observing it from the audience’s perspective and playing a role in it – have been joined together so that the children realize what it truly means, as the title of the show indicates, for one to be Hamlet (“Hamlet sou eu” [“I am Hamlet”]).
The play was staged by Cláudia Jardim, Diogo Bento and Pedro Penim and opened in October 2007 at Teatro Maria Matos, in Lisbon. The children first hear about Shakespeare’s play when one of the actors, Diogo Bento, tries and fails to tell Hamlet’s plot. Cláudia Jardim substitutes him, seating herself at the table and narrating each scene with the help of small objects. For example, Ophelia’s suicide is illustrated by immersing an aspirin pill in a glass of water (which does seem to be a perfect way of representing this character’s suicide). In this first part of the show, the children participate from the stage, replying to questions or making comments about the story.
When the plot seems to have been properly understood, the children are called to the stage and given roles: it is their time to play Hamlet. Each child plays a part, which means that the duration of this show varies significantly from day to day, as it may take one hour (or three) for the children to go through the plot of the play. Most of them want to be Hamlet, and it is always difficult to find someone to be the evil King.
In this show, children – most of them had never heard of Hamlet before – begin as viewers and are then transformed into collaborators (tiny actors). Their participation modifies the show and meaning is created collaboratively as, in this “I am Hamlet”, being able to narrate the plot also requires the capacity to experience it. Sometimes, as happens with other Teatro Praga adaptations, Shakespeare’s lines are mentioned, but no one reads through a whole scene. From this perspective, staging Shakespeare is learning to collectively play with Shakespeare.
The company website has additional information about this production.
Cast and Crew
Direction: Cláudia Jardim, Diogo Bento and Pedro Zegre Penim.
Actors: Cláudia Jardim, Diogo Bento.
Colaboration: Patrícia da Silva.
Dramaturgical support: Maria João da Rocha Afonso.
Production: Cristina Correia.
Coproduction Teatro Municipal Maria Matos and Teatro Praga
Production notes provided by Maria Sequeira Mendes, Assistant Professor, School of Arts and Humanities – University of Lisbon.