Enhanced rendition of 'Hamlet' draws audience into Bard's beloved tragedy

Senior Matthew Mindeman stars in the title role of "Hamlet," to be presented the next two weekends by Covenant College's Theatre Department.

If you go

› What: Covenant Theatre’s “Hamlet.”› When: 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Nov. 11-12, 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 18, and 2 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19 (followed by panel discussion).› Where: Covenant College, 14049 Scenic Highway, Lookout Mountain, Ga.› Admission: $7 adults, $5 seniors, students and staff.› Phone: 706-419-1051.› Email: boxoffice@covenant.edu.› Note: The final dress rehearsal is also open, 7:30 p.m. today, Nov. 10, with $5 tickets for adults and $3 for seniors, students and staff.

In an upcoming production of "Hamlet," Covenant College's Theatre Department promises to enliven Shakespeare's most famous tragedy by inviting the audience to interact with the story in new and evocative ways.

When director Claire Slavovsky and lead actor Matthew Mindeman considered "Hamlet" for Mindeman's senior project, Mindeman says he initially hesitated to choose such a well-known and challenging play. He came to realize, however, that many people have only read the script or viewed the film - fewer have had the opportunity to see it in person.

Slavovsky hopes that the production can capitalize on the power of live theater to animate this familiar story through engaging an in-house audience, a benefit often lost in the digital age.

"Experiencing stories together is an important part of community - it creates cohesion," she says. "Not just the community of the cast and crew but also the college and even the city."

In an age of instant media, often viewed in isolation, she hopes to give the crowd the sensation that they are participating with the story as a group, instead of simply passively watching a story unfold as an individual.

"Especially compared to a movie of 'Hamlet,' I think going to see this production and be present with this production is perhaps more active and engaging than you're used to," says Mindeman. "I want the audience to experience 'Hamlet' fresh for the first time as a story, without the cultural baggage."

While the show will employ techniques that create more of a shared experience for the audience, it is still rooted in the timeless text and will not seem foreign to those who have read or viewed the tragedy before. The production will be set in the court at Elsinore, complete with opulent royal costuming and swashbuckling swordplay.

Mindeman will be joined onstage by junior Abi Ogle as Ophelia, senior Rob Schonthaler as King Claudius and junior Sammie Brown as Queen Gertrude. English professor Cliff Foreman will appear as the Ghost. Alumnus John Reeder will lead musical accompaniment he composed for the production.

"Hamlet" will run for the next two weekends. A matinee production on the final day, Saturday, Nov. 19, will be followed by a panel discussion.