By April Wilson, Senior Staff Writer
UNO Theatre’s latest production “12 Ophelias (a play with broken songs)” promises to be an innovative and exciting reconstruction of Shakespeare’s Hamlet.
The play by up-and-coming female playwright Caridad Svich “is a unique take on the beloved classic Hamlet by William Shakespeare, and it gives audiences a chance to see this story from another perspective, that of Ophelia, as she rewrites her story and finds herself in the process,” according to director Dr. Cindy Melby Phaneuf.
The play was written from 2002 to 2004 and first performed in New York City. It was performed again in 2009 at the Trap Door Theatre in Chicago. UNO has the privilege of being the second university theatre to stage a production after Macalester College in Minnesota performed the play earlier this year.
The choice of this piece is living up to the theatre department’s commitment to stage at least one play by a woman playwright every year.
“I chose the play because there are great roles for women,” Phaneuf said, “and it has given myself and the cast and crew the opportunity to work with a nationally known and well respected playwright.”
Svich was “vital in the process and has helped the cast along the way,” Phaneuf said. “It is the perfect opportunity to work this closely with an up-and-coming playwright and has been great for myself as well as the students.”
Svich has said of the piece that she has a fascination with Ophelia’s voice and a desire to render it in different ways.
“She [Ophelia] is one of Shakespeare’s most troubled and enigmatic young women—good daughter, good sister, lover, touched by/driven to madness, suicide” Svich said. “A tragic case felled by one society and story, and thus it is inevitable that there seems to be a constant need to retrieve her from her fate as a dramatic figure. My desire was indeed to rescue her, resuscitate her language, and find a new language and place for her in my own way.”
The play synopsis reads: “This reimaging brings Ophelia rising up out of the water dreaming of Pop Tarts and other sweet things. She finds herself in a neo-Shakespearean setting were Gertrude runs a brothel, Hamlet is called Rude Boy, and nothing is what it seems. In this mirrored world of word-scraps and cold sex, Ophelia cuts a new path for herself.”
The production has lead one actor to physically transform himself. Michael Mecek plays the character of Rude Boy.
“I’ve been going to the gym six days a week for a little over a month now; my diet has never been more balanced,” said Mecek. “I firmly believe that Hamlet needs to be sexy and lean. Hamlet can’t have a college gut. To get this part is very humbling for me. Hopefully, the end result will do my character justice.”
Mecek also said there is a lot to look forward to in the show.
“Even though it’s artsy and we use minimalism, there’s singing, dancing, fight choreography, live music, suspense, lust, romance, psychology, and philosophy in it,” Mecek said.
“Anyone who has been broken and found wholeness, who has loved and lost and loved again will recognize themselves in this piece,” Phaneuf said. “Its themes of love and loss, redemption and moving on are universal and not just for women. It is a combination of all the arts, and is physical and imaginative.”
Previews for “12 Ophelias” run Nov. 16 and 17. Performances begin Nov. 18 and 19, and continue Nov. 30 to Dec. 3. The house opens at 7 p.m. with all performances beginning promptly at 7:30 in the Weber Fine Arts Building.
Tickets are on sale now at the box office inside WFAB. Tickets are free to all UNO Students with a MavCard and $5 for all other students with a valid student I.D. General public tickets are $15, seniors, military, and TAG members are $10. For more information, visit the box office from 1 to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, visit www.unomaha.edu/unotheatre, or call the box office at 402-554-PLAY.