Great Lakes Theater's Double-Cast 'Hamlet' Brings Female Perspective

Laura Welsh Berg as Hamlet [photo Roger Mastroianni]
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William Shakespeare's Prince of Denmark returns to Playhouse Square in the new Great Lakes Theater production of Hamlet

For about half of the shows, the surly, young prince will be played by a woman. 

Producing Artistic Director Charles Fee double cast the title role with company members Jonathan Dyrud and Laura Welsh Berg. 

Fee asked his all of his company members to try out, however actor Laura Welsh Berg did not.

Laura Welsh Berg as Hamlet [photo: Roger Mastroianni]
Laura Welsh Berg as Hamlet [photo: Roger Mastroianni]

"I feel like as a man [actor] you grow up looking at Hamlet as the role and [you] want to play it someday.  But as a woman that was not really on my radar," Berg said.

Once Berg did try out, she was smitten.

"It is beautiful, it is amazing.  It does the work for you," Berg said.

Berg alternates with Dyrud during the run of the production in the lead role.  It's the first time he's taken on Hamlet as well, but he doesn't mind sharing the stage.

"It's a really incredible experience to have this male-centric play and to have the largest voice in that male-centric play be a woman.  It just lends an entire new perspective on the work that I never thought could be there," Dyrud says.


Jonathan Dyrud as Hamlet [photo: Roger Mastroianni]

Another new take on the show for Great Lakes Theater: the staging.  Inspired by London's Globe Theater, Fee brings members of the audience onstage and into the set itself.

"We have seating onstage in the structure of the set for 20 members of the audience, which is as much as we could bring up into the set.  Then what we did was create a new platform stage and bring the audience right up onto the edge of the platform so you can rest your hands on the stage," Fee explained.

For Dyrud, playing Hamlet that close to the audience presents one concern.

"Sword fighting is always challenging when there are people that close.  So we've been working with Ken Merckx,

our fight director, to make sure we are playing it as safely as possible so people have no need to fear," Dyrud said.

Fee adds: "Yes, don't fear people, you'll be fine."

The Great Lakes Theater production of Hamlet runs March 31- April 15 at the Hanna Theater with Jonathan Dyrud and Laura Welsh Berg alternating in the title role.

Hear Carrie Wise's interview with Charlie Fee, Jonathan Dyrud and Laura Welsh Berg Friday at 1:33pm on 90.3 during Here and Now featuring the Sound of Applause.

 

Listen to Laura Welsh Berg as 'Hamlet'

 

 

 

Listen to Jonathan Dyrud as 'Hamlet'

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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