Technology Invades Hamlet in Los Angeles

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Jesse Russell Brooks' inventive media installation on the production Hamlet. Performances at the Stella Adler Theatre in Hollywood, CA now through March 19, 2006.

The stage is a warm inviting place where one can escape the vicissitudes of modernity. If modernity and technology invade this space where then can you find your personal Nirvana? Thankfully, Jesse Russell Brooks understands this dichotomy between the screen and the stage.

More importantly, Jesse Russell Brooks understands that the screen also occupies the stage and must seemingly blend in. He achieves this by using seven, old fashioned television sets, as opposed to modern Plasmas, Jesse Russell Brooks manages to maintain the warmth and familiarity of the stage. Furthermore, by actually letting the audience sit on the stage in comfortable couches and recliners this feeling of homliness is further enhanced. While a theoretical understanding of the screen and its greater cultural/societal role versus the stage is very important, in the end it is meaningless unless praxis is attained and this production brilliant attains praxis.

Effectively using 21st century technology in a play written about 400 years ago is no easy task. First, one must identify what the screen actually stands for. The screen is a tool of modernity and as such its key symbolism is that of alienation. Second, one must understand the outcome of this alienation - paranoia. Finally, one must apply this to Hamlet. In order to do this one must work backwards. First, identify the most paranoid character, Hamlet. Next, use the technology to signal this paranoia through the use of noise and various visual effects. Finally, identify the cause of Hamlet's paranoia and what alienates him from all other characters, the ghost of his father, and personify this character through the use of technology. Jesse Russell Brooks does this by using film of William Hurt as the ghost and splicing in these video segments throughout the production. If this is done effectively, as in this case, you have a seamless integration between the screen and the stage.

Hamlet is currently running at the Stella Adler Theatre, 6773 Hollywood Blvd, 2nd Floor, Hollywood, CA. Last show is Sunday, March 19, 2006.

Article written by: Payam Emrani


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Jonathan Bell
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