Tag Archives: Hamlet 2015

Hamlet – Theater in the Philippines

Ikarus Productions presents “Hamlet” at DITO Bahay ng Sining, a theater in the Philippines. One of the most memorable and perhaps most disturbing among William Shakespeare’s plays, it tells the story of Hamlet, heir to the throne of Denmark, whose sanity started hanging by a thread after his father’s untimely demise and her mother’s marriage to her uncle. He immediately sensed something is wrong and plotted revenge before his insanity goes full circle. Or has it?


CLAUDIUS… Gian Carlo Patello IV

HORATIO… Jan Leyson

Hamlet - Theater in the Philippines
GERTRUDE… Natalia Go

Hamlet - Theater in the Philippines
POLONIUS… Andre Alcantara

Hamlet - Theater in the Philippines
LAERTES… Sky Abundo

Hamlet - Theater in the Philippines
OPHELIA… Danielle de Leon

Hamlet - Theater in the Philippines.
HAMLET… Kuya Manzano

Lighting Designer… Jan Leyson asstd. by Gian Carlo Patello IV
Sounds Designer…. Jonathan Rodriguez
Production Designer… Claudine Delfin & Jay Crisostomo IV
Graphic Designer… Claudine Delfin
Direction… Jay Crisostomo IV

Director Jay Crisostomo IV chose to present the play with a neutral accent as he views this as more about entering the mind of Hamlet rather than focusing on getting the accents right. “It is a story which must be told with the ferocity of its topic but with also the gentleness of its protagonist. Hamlet screams ‘Murther!’ but before that final scream was the million-billion struggles which comes from the meek heart of a boy,” he shares.

The critically-acclaimed play will be staged on February 20, 21, 22, 27 and 28 and March 6, 7 and 8 at DITO Bahay ng Sining located in J. Molina St. corner Guizama St., Concepcion Uno, Marikina City. It will also be staged on iChill Theater Cafe on March 13 and 14 at 8pm and March 15 at 4pm. Directions and instructions as to how to get to DITO Bahay ng Sining can be referred to Arion through his contact details  0935 966 8769 or email ikarus.ph@gmail.com. Directions on going to iChill Theater Cafe can be accessed through Facebook & Twitter. Other details regarding special discounts and other similar deals can be seen on my official Facebook page, Kuya Manzano Fan Page, and my Twitter account @kuyamanzano. Hope to see you there. Gracias!

Top 5 Hamlet Facts

Watching some previous versions of Hamlet get me thinking how taxing this role can get. At first I thought I would have a field day playing this role. I’m unapologetically crazy anyway. But I forgot that it is still Shakespeare after all.

So exploring the role ended up discovering several interesting facts about the play itself. The origins, the records it held and the limits of being crazy applied on the role to remind the audience that while Hamlet’s sanity is going nowhere, he still tried to put up a facade of being “normal”.

Top 5 Hamlet Facts

– Hamlet is based on Amleth

Amleth is the tale of a young Viking warrior who comes home to find his father murdered and his mother marrying his uncle, a presumed attempt to avoid a power vacuum. What power vacuum when the son usually succeeds the dead king? Anyway, Hamlet was performed in the early 1600’s which is proof that even way back then, adaptations of European literature is already common.

Top 5 Hamlet Facts

– Hamlet is Shakespeare’s longest play ever

That’s how indecisive Hamlet is in plotting revenge. He got too preoccupied with acting forlorn, depressed and antisocial that he can’t even bring himself to do it or did he? It makes the question “To be or not to be?” almost irrelevant to the scheme he concocted to push his uncle to come clean whether he killed his own brother for the throne or not.

What possibly lengthened the play was the series of soliloquies recited here. Again, another sign of indecisiveness on Hamlet’s part as he puts too much effort on contemplating his revenge that all he ever accomplished is a series of monologues directed to himself.

Top 5 Hamlet Facts

– Hamlet, in turn, has an opera adaptation too

3 of Shakespeare’s straight plays have had opera adaptations and Hamlet is the only one in French. With music by French composer Ambroise Thomas, it was shorter compared to the 4-hour long version of Shakespeare. Some versions even show Hamlet cutting himself on the torso and his forearms to stomach the sight of his mother marrying his uncle less than 2 months after the king died.

There was even a version that did not mind presenting Gertrude, Hamlet’s mother, as a sex-starved widow. Either she really was in the play as Shakespeare intended or some directors chose to present the opera in the twisted point of view of Hamlet.

Top 5 Hamlet Facts

– Hamlet is about madness, real and faked

The challenge for the actor is to avoid going over-the-top when the character is feigning madness. The challenge for the audience is to guess which parts are legitimate crazy and which parts are just pissing the rest of the characters off. Hamlet seemed to enjoy the attention he’s getting from the craziness he exuded ever since he fell into depression.

The real insanity that is easiest to spot in this play is how Hamlet pushed Ophelia away from him. His mother’s marriage to Claudius really ruined his view of women as said in the line “Frailty, thy name is Woman!” So before Ophelia would get a chance to cheat on him, Hamlet pushed her away.

Top 5 Hamlet Facts

– Hamlet’s full original title is “The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark”

It due time it simply got referred to as “Hamlet” since much of the story revolved around him. The word “tragedy” in the title sounded like a spoiler although some deaths are not physical.

I am excited to play Hamlet next month. Expectations are high. I welcome the pressure because an actor has got to what an actor has got to do. No regrets. Roles like this can really get you thinking how therapeutic theater can get. It will be staged in February although you have to keep yourself posted for updates for the particular dates. Just like my official Facebook page, Kuya Manzano Fan Club, and follow me on Twitter @kuyamanzano to learn about them first. See you around.

To Be or Not To Be: The Evolution of Hamlet as a Piece of Theatrical Literature

Hamlet is one of the most memorable roles ever to establish the Shakespearean plays as challenging from the get-go. Not everyone is willing to take the risk in inhabiting this role, whether straight play, musical or opera (yes, the opera version was by French composer Ambroise Thomas).

What is the play Hamlet all about? Its full title is actually “The Tragedy of Hamlet, Prince of Denmark”. The tragedy pertained to is the vengeance that Hamlet plotted on his own uncle, Claudius, whom he suspected of killing his father, King Hamlet, in order to seize the throne and marry his widow, Gertrude.

Where did he get this idea? The 2009 version aired on BBC shows Hamlet seeing the ghost of his father. Here, King Hamlet tells his son how he actually died. He was poisoned by his brother after seducing and corrupting his wife. It was this act of treachery that would not put his spirit at peace, summoning his son to avenge his death. It’s quite different from some versions where the ghost would appear to Horatio, Hamlet’s confidante, and other guards and would demand vengeance as well only for Hamlet himself to go to that same spot and see the ghost.

Could it be that the ghost’s appearance was so timely – at the time that Hamlet is halfway through madness? At the banquet that Claudius and Gertrude hosted, Hamlet was the only one wearing black. And Hamlet could only state the obvious. King Hamlet just died and Claudius rushed in to marry the widowed queen. It was as if she’s so afraid to return to her bed alone.

It also shattered Hamlet’s view on women so much that he started pushing Ophelia away from him, afraid that she will betray him too right after his death. If madness can be diagnosed as something contagious then it applies on Ophelia although her madness would go much later.

The main difference in the BBC version? An attempt at modernity. As you may have realized, the CCTV installed in the palace served as a plot device to present the ghost as a “ghost” that cannot be captured on camera and to record Hamlet’s descent into madness.

To Be or Not To Be: The Evolution of Hamlet as a Piece of Theatrical Literature
David Temnant as Hamlet in the 2009 BBC version

It gave Hamlet the idea that he’s some lab rat subjected to scrutiny by everyone including Ophelia’s father. Sometimes it comes across as an attempt to speed up the narration here and focus on the madness instead. It’s the version that served as contrast to Kenneth Branagh’s version.

The Shakespearean purists enjoyed Branagh’s version – the 1996 version that he directed with him donning the titular role of Hamlet. Realizing how multi-layered this play could ever get, he tried to balance the presentation of Hamlet’s madness and the court intrigue. It makes you question too if Hamlet is really mad or everyone in the palace just refuses to address the awkwardness of the situation between Claudius and Gertrude.

Have you ever felt like Rosencrantz and Guildenstern? No need to pretend to understand Hamlet when in fact you don’t. Some men find comfort in listening to their own understanding of the world. And you realize the difficulty in portraying a man this crazy. The craziest people in the world are the folks that are least aware of the levels of insanity that they have plunged into.

If Hamlet is not crazy, what does he think he is? If Branagh’s version is to be viewed, Hamlet views himself as a philosopher – one with depressing view of the world. So depressing that it seems as if he’s just speaking just to watch the people around him react. For a mind so messed up, he’d like to mess up everyone’s minds as well. Otherwise, there won’t be rapid cuts to the facial expressions displaying the reactions to whatever Hamlet says.

It’s the least that he can do because he can’t bring himself to kill his uncle. He is not even sure if the ghost that talked to him is really his father’s ghost. What is left for him to do? Spit invective quotes and suspect everyone, including Ophelia, of whatever he could manage to accuse them of.

Excuses, excuses. It’s the kind of performance that made the line “To be or not to be” credible if Hamlet’s indecisiveness is to be identified. Hamlet is a character that is too messed up in the head to even take action into his plans. And it’s also the kind of multi-layered prose that placed immense pressure on actors to deliver them right. In other words, challenge accepted since I will be playing Hamlet in February at DITO Marikina.

To Be or Not To Be: The Evolution of Hamlet as a Piece of Theatrical Literature
Image from RogerEbert.com

To like or not to like, that should not even be a question. Like my official Facebook page, Kuya Manzano Fan Club, in order to keep yourself updated of my next projects like Hamlet. See you around.