IF YOU GO
* What: "Hamlet."
* When: 7:30 p.m. today, Saturday and Feb. 18-19; 2:30 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Feb. 19-20.
* Where: James K. Steakley/Meyer Winer Youth Theatre, Chattanooga Theatre Centre, 400 River St.
* Admission: $8-$10.
* Phone: 267-8534.
* Website: www.TheatreCentre.com
Don't let the leather jackets and grungy, garage-like setting of the Chattanooga Theatre Centre's Youth Theatre fool you; it's still "Hamlet."
The Shakespearean tragedy, what director Chuck Tuttle calls "a post-modern remix in [the playwright's] original language," will open tonight and run for two weekends in the Mildred M. Montague Circle Theatre.
"There's no such thing as traditional Shakespeare," the director said. "People have an idea of what it should be," but it's been changing through the years.
The youth version will be half the original but will be the "full story with a few exceptions," Tuttle said. "It will give a sense of the characters and what the dilemmas are."
The director said people forget that Shakespeare wasn't a literature writer in his day but was an entertainment writer. His plays, he said, are like his version of today's television scripts.
In the tale itself, Prince Hamlet exacts revenge on his uncle for murdering Hamlet's father, succeeding to the throne and marrying Gertrude, Hamlet's mother.
In the CTC's post-modern production, Tuttle said, his idea was to "express through our society what Hamlet is. He's just a guy who had a messed-up family. He should have been on ['The] Jerry Springer [Show']."
The style, he said, is additionally expressed through the minimal industrial set, the gang-like costumes (bearing "E's" for the castle Elsinore), and the twists they have through a flashback, the masked characters of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern, and the ghost who torments Hamlet.
Tuttle said he hopes his cast of 11 see their characters as people they might have next door and to imagine how some of the situations might unfold if they were in their families.
"Everybody's a victim in this," Tuttle said. "Sometimes, people do the wrong things for the right reasons or it just doesn't work out the right way. [In the play], something is rotten in the state of Denmark. Something is just not right."