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“Hamlet,” the Theatre Department’s ongoing production, shines on mental well-being

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Lilly Sundsbak

“The Tragedy of Hamlet: Prince of Denmark” is the Theatre Department’s ongoing production as part of their “Classics Reimagined” series, where classic stories are reintroduced with contemporary significance.

“Hamlet” is an adaptation of the original play by the English playwright and poet William Shakespeare. The story entails Hamlet who after receiving a vision of his father, the former king, he chooses to avenge his father’s death by seeking to kill his uncle the new king.

Jeremy Michael Cohn, the production’s director, said bringing a new interpretation of the play involved finding the connection to modern day. 

“This idea of the things that we are sort of stuck with from past generations, the problems that we are asked to resolve, feels like a very relevant theme with the state of our modern world,” Cohn said.

Cohn said while the original text is over four hours long and versions read in English classrooms are combinations of multiple editions, he “wanted a really muscular adaptation that could have a lot of momentum.”

Abraham Sangye plays the titular character Hamlet and Cohn helped them get into the role by being left to “find those impulses and utilize them to find discoveries within the character and my perceptions of the character.” 

The show targets themes such as generational trauma and mental health from the societal pressures Hamlet faced while dealing with the loss of his father, Cohn said.

“There’s these expectations that are forced and for him that is toxic masculinity, this idea of like who am I versus who am I expected to be,” Sangye said. “We can’t be someone that is beat down by family, expectations and norms in everything around us. It makes it so much harder to navigate our own lives.”

Liv Gallo plays Ophelia, the daughter of Polonius and love interest of Hamlet. 

Gallo said portrayals of Ophelia typically show her as fragile, but in this production that portrayal was avoided because “that’s not really who she is.”

Gallo said Ophelia “goes through basically having no agency over her own life and the patriarchal norms in the show are very relevant to what we still experience today with men telling women what to do,” adding that both Ophelia and Hamlet’s mental health suffered from all that is affecting them. 

“I think it brings a lot of awareness to mental health, that these things are still relevant and that we need to be more aware of them,” said Gallo.

“Hamlet” ran through Saturday, Feb. 17.

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About the Contributors
Uriel Reyes, Reporter
ureyes@columbiachronicle.com   Uriel Reyes is a sophomore music performance major, minoring in journalism. He primarily covers the Muesum of Contemporary Photography, and the Dance and Theatre Departments. Reyes has also written student spotlight articles and film reviews. He joined the Chronicle in January 2023.   Hometown: Chicago, Illinois
Lilly Sundsbak, Illustrator
lsundsback@columbiachronicle.com   Lilly Sundsback is a first-year illustration major. She joined the Chronicle's Creative Desk in January 2024, where she also serves on the editorial board.   Hometown: Rochester, Minnesota