Shakespeare's Hamlet and Beckett's Waiting for Godot at Kennedy Theatre

Two great classics of Western theatre performed in repertory

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Tracy E Robinson, (808) 956-2598
Publicity Director, Theatre and Dance
Marty Myers, (808) 986-2602
Theatre Manager, Theatre and Dance
Posted: Nov 19, 2010

"Hamlet" & "Waiting for Godot"
"Hamlet" & "Waiting for Godot"
The University of Hawai’i at Mānoa’s Department of Theatre and Dance presents two great works of Western theatre that address the most existential of questions “Why am I here?”... “Who am I?”... “To be or not to be?” William Shakespeare’s Hamlet, one of the greatest plays ever written and Samuel Beckett’sWaiting for Godot, dubbed “the most important play of the 20th century” by The New York Times, will be presented in repertory on the mainstage of Kennedy Theatre from Nov. 5 – Dec. 5. Audiences will have the unique opportunity of experiencing a “classic-classic” and a “modern-classic” in close proximity, since the plays will be performed on an alternating basis over a four week period. Audiences can also take advantage of special lectures and panels coordinated by the Page-to-Stage program which links the classroom to the live performance by providing audience guides, library events, pre-show chats, and panel discussions.
The tragedy Hamlet, one of the best known and most quoted plays in the English language, delves into the universal themes of life, love, duty and vengeance. Commanded by his murdered father’s ghost to seek revenge, Hamlet struggles with the human and spiritual costs of pursuing justice.
“Part of choosing to do Hamlet is making sure you’ve got someone or a few people who can handle the demands of the roles,” explained Director Paul T. Mitri. “At UHM, I am very lucky that the current crop of actors is very talented and, even better, eager to be challenged.”
The exceptionally talented cast of 22 UH Mānoa student performers includes four principle actors that, in true repertory fashion, have the added challenge of cross-performing leading roles in both productions. Ryan Wuestewald plays the title role in Hamlet and the role of Pozzo in Waiting for Godot; Troy M. Apostol plays Claudius in Hamlet and Lucky in Waiting for Godot; Dan D. Randerson plays Polonius in Hamlet and Vladimir in Waiting for Godot; and Tommy Barron plays The Player King in Hamlet and Estragon in Waiting for Godot.
“The process has been a great challenge,” explains Wuestewald. “Working in rep is an exciting new experience for me. I'm terrified of both roles, but love working on each one. I have a vital passion for acting and the theatre and a new found respect for working professional actors.” The demands of playing a lead role in two different productions have been a massive undertaking requiring these four actors to rehearse on an almost nightly basis since the beginning of September.
Scenic Designer David M. Gerke designed the setting for both Hamlet and Waiting for Godot; costume designer Cheri Vasek, who recently joined the faculty at UHM, will be debuting her designs in the production of Hamlet; Michaela Kocis is the costume designer for Waiting for Godot; and David Griffith is the lighting designer for both productions.
Hamlet opens the repertory performances and will run Nov. 5, 6, 20, Dec. 3 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 14, Dec. 5 at 2 p.m. There will be free pre-show chats on Saturday, Nov. 6 and 20 at 6:30 p.m. with Dr. Valerie Wayne and Eleanor Svaton.
Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, written in 1949, is still renowned as a unique dramatic innovation and a comic masterpiece of absurdist theatre. Its central existential image of two tramps waiting endlessly for the promised arrival of the all-important Godot who never seems to arrive and yet they still wait after vowing to move on, sums up a bleak world, but one not without humor or hope.
“My goal as the director of this Kennedy Theatre production is to create a thoroughly contemporary experience,” says Markus Wessendorf, Associate Professor of Theatre at UHM whose staging of “Waiting for Godot” is set in November 2010 in a local beach park in Waiʻanae. “Overall, it is not a far stretch to link the play to the current economic recession, with tent cities of the homeless and the working poor stretching along the Waiʻanae Coast, and long-term unemployment being considered the “new normal.” These associations have also been emphasized through particular design choices by using the shape of a typical local tree for the production, and by creating aloha-style costumes and hats for the characters.
Waiting for Godot will be performed Nov. 12, 13, 19, Dec. 2, 4 at 7:30 p.m. and Nov. 21 at 2 p.m. There will be free pre-show chats on Saturday, Nov. 13 and Dec. 4 at 6:30 p.m. with theatre students from the graduate Beckett seminar.  Also, a post-show panel discussion: “Godot’s Moment, a panel of scholars discusses the production and relates it to our present time, especially here in Hawai`i, will take place on Sunday, Nov. 21 at 4:30 p.m.
Tickets for Hamlet and Waiting for Godot are available online now at, at outlets, and by phone at 944-2697. Tickets are also on sale at the Kennedy Theatre Box Office Monday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. with extended hours on days of performance. Patrons who are interested in the repertory experience can buy tickets to both productions and save. Prices are $20 regular; $18 seniors, military, UH faculty/staff; $12 students; $5 UHM students with a validated fall 2010 UHM photo ID. Patrons can add their Waiting for Godot ticket for just $7 more when purchasing a Hamlet ticket. Ticket prices include all service fees. For more information or disability access, call the Kennedy Theatre Box Office at 956-7655.

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