Something is rotten in the state of Denmark – a state in squalor, boredom and debauchery.

 
Hartwell Players is Melbourne’s oldest performing community theatre. Formed in 1938 under the name of the Hartwell Presbyterian Merrymakers the group initially only involved women from the Hartwell Presbyterian Church. In 1952 men were admitted and the company changed its name to the Hartwell players.
 
Today, Hartwell welcomes new members in whatever capacity they would like to be involved – acting; technical work; set building or publicity. Hartwell also have an active committee of management as well as a play selection sub-committee who are responsible for making decisions about future productions and directors.. The company also celebrates ‘the year that was’ with its Annual Hartwell Awards.
 
The Hartwell players produce 4 shows a year – a pantomime in the January school holidays, a Shakespeare production that is then travelled to the Shakespeare Festival at Stratford Victoria, a series of one-act plays and a full length production.
 
The Shakespeare on the River Festival has been in existence for 21 years and Hartwell have been proud participants for many years. The festival is, of course, driven by the works of William Shakespeare and embrace both traditional and modern adaptations.

Hartwell’s Shakespeare production, Hamlet, is currently in performance. This work has been adapted by directorPhoebe Anne Taylor and hopes to re-examines what is, arguably, Shakespeare’s most seminal tragedy in an attempt to find the heart of what makes Hamlet tragic.

 

There is no such thing as a short synopsis for Shakespeare’ Hamlet but suffice to say that something is rotten in the state of Denmark: Hamlet, young prince of Denmark, is still shaken by the recent death of his idolized father and by the marriage, scarcely a month later, of his widowed mother, Queen Gertrude, to his uncle, the present King Claudius, whom he despises. That is the bare bones but, of course, murder, ghostly visitations, madness, poisoned wine, love and sacrifice ensue.

 

This play ends with the oft misquoted line by Horatio: "Now cracks a noble heart. Good night, sweet prince, and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest!"

 
 
It also contains the other (perhaps more famous) misquoted line uttered by Hamlet to Ophelia:
 
"To be, or not to be; that is the question:
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune,
Or to take arms against a sea of troubles,
And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep;
No more; and by a sleep to say that we end
The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks
That flesh is heir to, ’tis a consummation
Devoutly to be wished. To die, to sleep;
To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub;
For in that sleep of death what dreams may come,
When we have shuffled off this mortal coil,
Must give us pause…."
 
The Hartwell Players present Shakespeare’s Hamlet as adapted by Phoebe Anne Taylor at the Ashwood College Performing Arts centre April 1 – 16 8PM with twilight performances Sunday 3 and 10 at 5PM. Bookings: http://www.hartwellplayers.org.au/ 03 9513 9581

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