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On the heels of Glenda Jackson’s King Lear, another unconventional, gender-blurring take on a Shakespeare classic is headed to a New York stage. Ruth Negga will make her American theatrical debut playing the title role of the Danish prince in Hamlet.
The Oscar-nominated star of Loving and AMC’s Preacher has signed on for a monthlong run at St. Ann’s Warehouse in Brooklyn, beginning performances Feb. 1, 2020. The production comes to New York following its acclaimed debut last fall at the Gate Theatre in Dublin, directed by Yael Farber.
South African director and playwright Farber drew superlative reviews at St. Ann’s for her Strindberg adaptation, Mies Julie, which reset the play 18 years after the end of apartheid. Her direction and text edit on Hamlet shift the focus from the title character’s anguish and identity to the power of the prince’s resistance against treachery and the raw usurpation of power.
Reviewing the production in The Guardian, Michael Billington wrote: “The Irish-Ethiopian Negga is a fascinating mix of male and female: a dark-suited, swift-spoken, ferociously intelligent figure who sees both through Elsinore’s corruption and his/her inability to counter it.” Billington went on to point up “the overwhelming sense of loss binding Negga’s Hamlet to Aoife Duffin’s Ophelia — something, I suspect, that could be fully realized only when you have a female prince.”
The Gate production is presented in association with Kate Pakenham Productions. Pakenham has a history of collaborating with St. Ann’s Warehouse dating back to her tenure as executive producer of London’s Donmar Warehouse, where Phyllida Lloyd’s all-female Shakespeare Trilogy originated before traveling to the Brooklyn venue.
Also on the slate for St. Ann’s 40th anniversary season is Thomas Ostermeier’s History of Violence, adapted from Edouard Louis’ autobiographical novel (Nov. 13-Dec. 1); monologist Daniel Kitson’s new piece, Keep, about how much past the present should contain (Dec. 4-19); and a return engagement, by popular demand, of The Jungle, Joe Murphy and Joe Robertson’s immersive account of life in a now-bulldozed refugee camp in Calais, France, co-directed by Stephen Daldry and Justin Martin (spring 2020).
St. Ann’s currently is represented on Broadway with Daniel Fish’s radical revisionist take on Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!, which won this year’s Tony Award for best musical revival, as well as best featured actress in a musical for Ali Stroker.
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