Hamlet returns to American Shakespeare Center with gender swap twist

Published: Oct. 2, 2023 at 12:44 AM EDT
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STAUNTON, Va. (WHSV) - For the first time in five years, the American Shakespeare Center is putting on a production of Hamlet, but this time with a woman playing the titular role.

In Shakespeare’s day, all female roles were played by men. In the center’s production, actress Meg Rogers plays the male lead. She believes the four-century-old character and story are still relatable because of how human Hamlet is, even as he spirals into madness after the death of his father.

“There’s no filters, you are seeing everything happen raw,” said Rogers, “You see the bad and you see the good, and you’re not sure if it’s a it’s a hero or a villain. It’s human — it’s who that person is. I wanted to play the role just as me, I didn’t want to try to play gender.”

ASC’s artistic director, Brandon Carter plays Hamlet’s love interest, Ophelia. He thinks play director Cameron Knight’s vision for the production puts the Queen City in a renaissance of morality and identity.

“Seeing it from a different lens actually brings focus to what the themes are,” said Carter, “Then we have power, identity, privilege; all these things that Hamlet sort of hits, and grief. As sort of the arbiter of language and what we do with Shakespeare, I think it’s important that we hit it in a different way and surprise ourselves.”

Cast members like Carter feel that the community needs to experience these emotions in Hamlet, whether they’re good or bad, together.

Hamlet will run on Thursdays through Sundays until November 18. Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays and 2:00 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Tickets are available on the American Shakespeare Center’s website.