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Shakespeare comes to life on campus with “Hamlet” starting next week

By ThisIsReno

SUBMITTED NEWS RELEASE

Internationally recognized Shakespeare scholar Eric Rasmussen, English professor and department chair at the University of Nevada, Reno College of Liberal Arts. Rasmussen is part of the creative team bringing the world premiere of contemporary"Hamlet" in Original Pronunciation to campus starting Nov. 1. Photo by Jean Dixon.

Tickets available now for the world premiere of contemporary “Hamlet” in Original Pronunciation; performances begin at University of Nevada, Reno Nov. 1; free panel discussion scheduled Nov. 18

In its first time being performed in Original Pronunciation (OP) since the early 1600s, William Shakespeare’s “Hamlet” is sure to wow its audiences during the nearly three weeks of performances of the Nevada Repertory Company’s , beginning at the University of Nevada, Reno Nov. 1. In clear juxtaposition to Original Pronunciation, the costumes and set design will be contemporary, creating a unique, world premiere performance.

“Psychologically complex, historically and linguistically rich, ‘Hamlet‘ will showcase our Theatre Program while involving the interdisciplinary range of faculty, students and programs in the College of Liberal Arts,” Scott Casper, dean of the College of Liberal Arts, said. “This production is anticipated to attract visitors from Hollywood’s entertainment industry and even London.”

Amazingly, the last time “Hamlet” was presented in its original dialect was centuries ago. In fact, only four other OP productions of anything Shakespearean have been performed in modern times: two recently at The Globe Theatre in London, one at the University of Kansas, and one at Cambridge in the 1950s.

In order to bring a production of this magnitude to campus, the creative team includes the renowned English linguist and The Globe’s own consultant David Crystal, author of “Pronouncing Shakespeare”; British superstar actor and scholar Ben Crystal, who will play Hamlet; the University’s award-winning Shakespearean scholar, co-editor of “The Royal Shakespeare Company’s Complete Works of William Shakespeare” and this production’s dramaturge, English Professor Eric Rasmussen; the University’s Nevada Repertory Company director and department chair Rob Gander and University art professor and production costume designer Gini Vogel.

“Original Pronunciation is almost like a dialect, grounded not in geography but through time,” Gander said. “When Shakespeare was writing, ‘love’ and ‘prove’ rhymed. By employing original pronunciation, we can experience the text as it was meant to be heard. Original Pronunciation is still remarkably easy to understand, even to a modern ear.”

Crystal has spent the last 12 years writing, performing, teaching, acting and talking about Shakespeare. He is the author of “Shakespeare on Toast,” a book that dispels the myth that Shakespeare is difficult. Crystal has been a resident artist working with the Nevada students on campus since August.

“It’s been wonderful to work with the students,” he said. “There is an incredible talent pool here and it has been a real joy.”

In addition to the performances of “Hamlet,” the University’s College of Liberal Arts and School of the Arts will highlight the influence Shakespeare has had on our culture the past 400 years by offering a free, public panel discussion with scholars and creative team members on Nov. 18. “The Sound of Shakespeare: Then and Now” will be moderated by English Professor Phil Boardman and includes panelists David Crystal, Ben Crystal, Rasmussen, and Gander.

Preview performances of the contemporary world premiere of Hamlet in the Original Pronunciation are held Nov. 1-3, with all other performances scheduled between Nov. 4 and 20. For more information and tickets, go to www.unrschoolofthearts.org.

Established in 1973, the Nevada Repertory Company, part of the University’s Department of Theatre and Dance in the School of the Arts, produces four plays annually featuring student actors and community performers. In true repertory tradition, the company offers valuable onstage opportunities as well as mastering the challenges and responsibilities of technical backstage work.

Nevada’s land-grant university founded in 1874, the University of Nevada, Reno has an enrollment of 18,000 students and is ranked in the top tier of the nation’s best universities. Part of the Nevada System of Higher Education, the University has the system’s largest research program and is home to the state’s medical school. With outreach and education programs in all Nevada counties and with one of the nation’s largest study-abroad consortiums, the University extends across the state and around the world. For more information, visit www.unr.edu.

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