“To be or not to be” at one of Open Air Shakespeare’s upcoming performances of “Hamlet” is a question Virginia Tech students and Blacksburg community members alike will be faced with this October.
Boasting stage combat and intense romances, “Hamlet” will be performed in a variety of locations from now to Oct. 19. Tickets are $12 for the general public and $8 for students and seniors.
“Hamlet” is the fifth production put on by Open Air Shakespeare NRV. The company, founded by Tech alumna Sara Wylie, works to break the stereotype that great theatre can only be found in big cities by bringing Shakespearian productions to Blacksburg and its surrounding counties.
Gabrielle Laskey, 2003 Tech graduate and director of “Hamlet”, explains the goals of Open Air Shakespeare NRV as a theatre troupe.
“We take a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” Laskey said. “Theatre four, in Richmond, is an excellent role model, as well as Shakespeare in the Park. Those are two really big influences and they serve for us to see what’s successful and what’s not successful.”
Carter Gaylord, a senior studying theatre arts and philosophy, is starring as Hamlet. Although Gaylord had never been involved with theater until he came to Tech as a freshman, he said that theater is now a huge part of his life.
“Hamlet has been a very interesting process for me because I’ve been in two shows at once,” said Gaylord, who just recently finished performing in “Suddenly Last Summer”, produced by Virginia Tech’s School of Performing Arts.
Gaylord, like much of the cast, feels a special connection to the works of Shakespeare.
“Of all of Shakespeare’s plays, ‘Hamlet’ has always been my favorite,” Gaylord said. “It’s the reason I actually decided that I wanted to pursue theatre. It’s the one (play) that still remains the most relevant.”
Laskey agrees that the story of “Hamlet” is timeless. She said that Hamlet still has many of the qualities of modern television dramas like “Scandal” and “Downton Abbey.”
“There’s so much action and drama and comedy in this production,” said Heather Ursano, who plays Gertrude. “We tried to interpret it as our own and make it different than any other Hamlet that’s been done before.”
Perhaps one of the most unique aspects of these productions of “Hamlet” is the fact that they will be performed in seven different venues, including Top of The Stairs, 130 Jackson Street, the Inn at Virginia Tech and on other stages in surrounding Radford, Pulaski, and Floyd areas.