Pioneer Players take on 'Hamlet'

November 21, 2018
Logan Eigenberger/Aaron Pliska

The University of Wisconsin-Platteville’s Department of Performing and Visual Arts-Theatre and Pioneer Players will present William Shakespeare’s masterpiece, “Hamlet.” Performances are Dec. 5 at 11 a.m., Dec. 5-8 at 7:30 p.m. and Dec. 9 at 2 p.m. The Dec. 5 performance at 7:30 p.m. is also the Benefit Wednesday performance. All tickets for the benefit are $7; proceeds will go to the Platteville Food Pantry and UW-Platteville’s Pioneer Provisions, a free pantry/grocery service for students experiencing food insecurity. All performances are in the Center for the Arts Theatre.  

“It has been about seven years since our last production of a Shakespeare play, and we thought it was well past time to have our students tackle the Bard,” said Ann Dillon Farrelly, associate professor of theatre at UW-Platteville and the play’s director.“Arguably Shakespeare’s best play, ‘Hamlet’ has provided us with both challenges and exciting opportunities for storytelling.” 

The story of “Hamlet” is well-known to many – a young prince, overcome with grief after losing his father, discovers that his uncle (who now wears the crown and is now married to Hamlet’s mother) is responsible for the murder. The ghost of his father appears to him and demands that Hamlet get revenge for the murder. 

Farrelly noted that even though “Hamlet” can be intimidating, it is a good fit for college performers. “Hamlet is a young college student – a fact that is often lost in the many productions in which a much older actor assumes the role,” said Farrelly. “I think staying true to Hamlet’s youth expands our understanding of why Hamlet is so emotionally unpredictable.” 

Farrelly said she is also intrigued with how to tell the story in a new way. “I have always been fascinated by the inconsistencies in the character of Horatio, so we are playing with the role of Horatio as an antagonist – as a manifestation of grief,” she said. “Ultimately, for me, this is a play about grief and how grief can drive us into madness. Grief is something so very human and universal, and by focusing on that aspect, we take a giant of a play and make it more intimate and relatable.”

The cast includes UW-Platteville students Logan Eigenberger as Hamlet, Aaron Pliska as Horatio, Ian Duff as Claudius, Meghan Weber as Gertrude, Kiley Schulz as Ophelia, Jason Hackbarth as Laertes, Corbin Schroeder as Polonius, Brenna Kautz as Rosencrantz, Andrew Arevalo as Guildenstern, Dillon Nemitz as the Ghost, and an ensemble including Dayna Neidich, Madison Harbour, MorgaineSchroeder, Audi Griffith, Alex Behne, and Evelyn Marx who play the remaining roles.

The production also includes a scenic design by student Nicholas Kelley, technical direction by student Sam Klaas, and is stage managed by student Abigail Wagner. Jeffrey Strange, associate professor and resident designer at UW-Platteville, is the lighting designer. Sarah Strange, instructor and resident designer at UW-Platteville, is the costume designer. 

“This will be a different kind of ‘Hamlet’ but it is still ‘Hamlet,’ said Farrelly. “It’s one of the greatest plays of all time, and at the heart of it is a young man who is grieving for his father – a young man who cannot cope with the loss and is destroyed by it. That is what I am interested in exploring. I think there is nothing that exposes the soul of the human experience more than grief. Shakespeare most certainly knew that.”

For tickets and information call the CFA Box Office at 608-342-1298.


Formatted by: Laurie A. Hamer, University Relations Specialist, College of Liberal Arts and Education, 608-342-6191, Written by: Ann Dillon Farrelly, Department of Performing and Visual Arts.


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