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For the last nine years, Be Theatre’s Shakespeare on the Concho has brought the Bard to life with ever-increasing sophistication and imagination. This year Shakespeare on the Concho takes on its greatest challenge with Hamlet.
In the play, the ghost of Hamlet’s dead father appears and reveals that his brother Claudius, murdered him to take his Queen and crown. Hamlet swears vengeance upon Claudius, but things are complicated by his love for Ophelia whose father Polonius is Claudius closest advisor. Claudius determines Hamlet must die, while Hamlet ponders his next move. From there, the audience is caught up in a web of love, violence and revenge that confronts the deepest questions of life and death.
Tyler Tennell is taking on the challenge of the play’s namesake. “Hamlet is one of the most illustrious roles in theatre, and literature. It is very big shoes to fill.” Tennell said. Hamlet’s love interest, Ophelia, is played by Jennie Wagner in her first time in a full-length Shakespeare production. She describes the relationship between Hamlet and Ophelia as “not the best for each other, but crazy in love, very 2023.” When asked about taking on one of the most iconic roles in theatre, Wagner said, “It is very intimidating trying to make these characters come to life when people have seen so many interpretations before, but I think San Angelo will love seeing our interpretation.”
Ken Roberts plays the evil Uncle, King Claudius. He is a well-known 32 year veteran of local theatre, but this is Ken’s first-time performing Shakespeare. He avoided Shakespeare for many years because he was afraid he couldn’t convey the play to the audience if he didn’t understand it. Coming to see previous Shakespeare on the Concho productions helped him start to get over his fear and appreciate the Bard. He also wanted to push himself and take on a new challenge.
“The process and the table work made me much more comfortable, and I am getting over my fear of Shakespeare, and I think I’ll be successful in conveying that to the audience.” To those who are reluctant to come because they are afraid they won’t understand it, Roberts had this to say. “Do not fear Shakespeare. You are going to get the story. We are going to make sure that you do. You are going to enjoy it. You are going to laugh. You are going to cringe, there is some action you are going to see. It is a nice, neat package all rolled into one play.”
When asked about his villainous character Roberts laughed, “Claudius has no moral compass. He is kind of a lost soul.”
This is Jon Mark Hogg’s third time in the director’s chair, having directed the last two productions, Romeo and Juliet and Twelfth Night. “One of the things about Hamlet,” Hogg said, “is there are so many expectations that come with it. It is like peeling an onion, for every layer you peel back you find another one behind it. No matter how many times you experience it you see something new. That is Hamlet.”
The show opens Thursday, April 20 in Be Theatre’s Black Box Theatre at the San Angelo Performing Arts Center 82 Gillis Street San Angelo. Tickets $15 and are general admission. You can purchase them online at betheatre.com or call 325.716.4125
- April 20–22 7:30 p.m.; April 23, 2:00 p.m.
- April 28–29, 7:30 p.m.; April 30, 2:00 p.m.