By Mig Windows
Shakespeare’s melancholy Dane is taking a trip to the Wild West this summer in Wayd Drake’s original adaptation of “Hamlet on the Range,” which will run for two performances June 1 and June 3 the Redwood Campus of Rogue Community College.
“The concept of this play is to make Shakespeare more accessible,” said Drake. “I think he has great stories but the language can be a barrier for some. I have wanted to do a western for some time. I saw the OSF production of Shakespeare’s Hamlet and as I drove home I played with the idea of Hamlet as a western and it really fits the story well, with a few changes here and there.”
Drake, enjoying his third year teaching theatre at RCC , has been active in the theatre community since a young age, and is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Theatre Production and Design from Southern Oregon University. He adapted the script himself with some help from students and faculty.
“The dialogue was updated in a two stage process,” said Drake. “First just deciphering what Shakespeare was saying into modern English, then the second step was to make it sound like Old West dialogue. The actors are also helping to make the dialogue more western in nature as we rehearse.”
The cast is made up of students from Fundamentals of Acting, some of whom are newcomers to the stage.
Drake has been making the best of a limited rehearsal time and a shoestring budget comprised mostly of donations. “Rehearsals have been going great,” he said. “The actors have been working really hard. Students have been coming in on extra days to help with stage needs.”
Opening the show is a goofy spoof of melodramas, written by former RCC students to tie in with the western theme, complete with a villain, henchmen, a damsel tied to the railroad tracks, and a mayor who speaks his own language. According to Drake, there were more students in his class than roles in the play, so the opening sketch was a good way to let everyone in on the fun.
On a scale of 1 to 10, Drake says the violence will be somewhere around a 5. “We have a gun fight, a stabbing, a poisoning and the stage is covered in dead bodies by the end,” said Drake.
“Every term, the acting class will put on a show a week before finals week,” said Drake, regarding future theatrical endeavors at the Redwood Campus. “I think that Bobbi Kidder will be doing a play Winter term, and a student has mentioned that he would like to do a musical in the fall. It will be exciting no matter what, so stay tuned!”
“Hamlet on the Range” runs from June 1 and June 3 from 4:00 pm – 6:00pm. Tickets can be purchased at the door, and the admission is on a pay-what-you-can basis.