NORTHERN Ballet’s daring production of Hamlet set in Nazi occupied Paris opens at the West Yorkshire Playhouse on 9 September
Created by Northern Ballet’s artistic director David Nixon, and co-directed by Northern Ballet associate artist Patricia Doyle, the production focuses on Hamlet’s mind unravelling against the backdrop of one of the most terrifying periods in modern history.
“It was daunting as we couldn’t use any of the text – the famous soliloquies – but instead express these in dance and with emotion."
The ballet is performed to a specially commissioned score from celebrated British composer Philip Feeney and follows a young man who arrives back from the front to find his home and world is not the one he left behind.
His father is dead, his mother has married his uncle and the enemy occupies his city. As his world descends into chaos, the boundaries between truth and deception, sanity and insanity become distorted.
“Hamlet is a young man who starts out with everything but loses it all,” says David Nixon.
“It is a story that people immediately identify with and there is much about it that has resonance in our darker corners. Maybe that’s why it is so popular, because somewhere deep inside of us, at some time, we all debate whether to be or not to be.”
Writing a groundbreaking scenario based on such a well-known literary work presented particular challenges for the producers.
“It was daunting as we couldn’t use any of the text – the famous soliloquies – but instead express these in dance and with emotion,” notes Patricia Doyle.
“Through dance, we can interpret the story and its central character in another way, staying true to Shakespeare’s inspiration and imagination, but at the same time making it a little more contemporary by relating it to a fairly recent past.”
Hamlet is brought to life with atmospheric lighting from Tim Mitchell and stunning 1940s Parisian style sets and costumes from ex-Northern ballet dancer Christopher Giles.
Performances: Fri 9 September – Sun 15 September - Evenings – 7.15pm, Matinees: Sat 10 and 17 Sept - 2pm .
Tickets: £20 - £30 (Discounts, concessions and group rates available) from the WYP Box Office on 0113 213 7700 or www.wyp.org.uk
Photo credit: Dee Conway