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This 'Hamlet' is 300 Years Old and Completely New

The latest show from Hidden Room Theater is a version of Hamlet that's different from any version you've probably seen before. Rather than staging the play as it was originally written, the folks at Hidden Room are presenting (stay with me here) a puppet-show version of an English language translation of a 300 year-old, comedic, condensed German version of the play.

That German manuscript, called Der Bestrafte Brudermord, is dated 1710, and has for years been a mystery to Shakespeare scholars. It's definitely a version of Hamlet, but its brevity and rampant slapstick raised questions about how and why it was originally staged.

Then, several years ago, Oxford's Tiffany Stern hit upon the idea that many of the script's eccentricities made sense if one read it as the script of a puppet show. Enter Austin's Hidden Room Theater and director Beth Burns, who decided that staging an authentic recreation of a 300-year-old German puppet show based on Hamlet was a pretty good idea.

And the staging aims to be very authentic; puppets were built using period methods, the music is played on replicas of 18th century instruments, and costumes were created from natural materials without the use of sewing machines.

Der Bestrafte Brudermord, or Hamlet Prince of Denmark Trailer from Lowell Bartholomee on Vimeo.

Der Bestrafte Brudermord Through February 8 Monday, January 27 at 8:00 pm Friday - Sunday at 8:00 pm At York Rite Masonic Hall, 311 West 7th Street

Mike is the production director at KUT, where he’s been working since his days as an English major at the University of Texas. He produces Arts Eclectic, Get Involved, and the Sonic ID project, and also produces videos and cartoons for When pressed to do so, he’ll write short paragraphs about himself in the third person, but usually prefers not to.
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