Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Transgressive Hamlet for the Current Era Opens JCTC’s 2017 Season

Anne Gridley (left) is Hamlet and Veraalba Santa plays Ophelia

For its first show of the New Year, Jersey City Theater Center (JCTC) presents a subversive retelling of a classic play for contemporary audiences.

Caborca’s Hamlet is a multimedia and multicultural reimagining of Shakespeare timeless drama that will dispel any notions that the Tragedy of the Prince of Denmark belongs stuck in some forgotten High School English Class. As a new political era dawns in the United States and the world, this innovative and experimental theater company makes Hamlet’s themes of revenge, deception and political upheaval disturbingly relevant.

“At this politically disorienting moment, Hamlet’s world feels eerily close,” said Javier Antonio González, Artistic Director of Caborca.

 González, a writer and director, started working with the actors and other artists who would eventually become Caborca in 2002 at the University of Puerto Rico. After completing Columbia’s MFA Theatre Program, Caborca (the name comes from The Savage Detectives, a novel by Roberto Bolaño) officially became a company in 2009. Since then, Caborca has produced work in New York, Puerto Rico, Los Angeles, and Massachusetts, receiving critical acclaim and a growing audience following.

 “We are particularly proud of having made work over the years in less artistically saturated areas around the city—south Brooklyn, The Bronx—and we are thrilled to add Jersey City to that list,” said David Skeist, Actor and Producing Director of Caborca,

Hamlet is the first Caborca production in New Jersey.

Time Out New York wrote: “González’s astonishing talent lies in saturation, in soaking our time in the ancient one and letting the stain set.” About a recent Caborca production, L.A. Weekly declared: “The performers moved like dancers and the entire event contained the grace of a poem.”

The Hamlet collaboration with JCTC began with a 2016 meeting with Olga Levina, artistic director of JCTC and González. Both JCTC and Caborca share a mission of using progressive theater to tackle the issues of our times, and Caborca was soon part of JCTC’s Theatre Residency program and over the course of several months, developed a unique Hamlet that reflected the anxiety ridden atmosphere created by the outcome of the 2016 Presidential Election.

Shakespeare’s text is kept mostly intact, but Caborca’s production features out-of-sequence scenes and nontraditional casting – both Hamlet and his revenge-obsessed Ghost Dad are played by women! This Hamlet is a site-specific production, where the venue is nearly another character in the dark tale. Caborca has transformed the black box theater at Merseles Studios into a creepily surrealistic Elsinore Castle that enhances an immersive audience experience. For the overall design and staging, Caborca used as inspiration a 1975 European “classic” comic book adaptation of Hamlet by Gianni De Luca, the Italian fumetti maestro.

The end result suggests unmistakable parallels between current-day America and Hamlet’s Denmark, “Corruption festers at the center of power, indulging in excess while war looms on the horizon,” states the Caborca Production Notes. “Denmark is a prison, and for Hamlet there is no way out but through murder, suicide, or madness.”

“Audiences will be seeing Hamlet in a completely different format,” said Olga Levina. “With women’s rights suddenly threatened again, the fact a woman is cast as Hamlet is a powerful statement. With what is going on politically, there is a feeling of a dark cloud over us. What better play than Hamlet to express these feelings so many of us share now. Caborca is a theater company with a vision, one of maybe a handful of up-and-coming companies willing to take risks. They’ve made a Hamlet for the times we are living through now.”

Jersey City Theater Center
Merseles Studios
339 Newark Avenue
Jersey City, NJ 07302
(201) 795-5386

Hamlet performances:

(Thursday) January 26 (7:30pm)
(Friday) January 27 (7:30pm)
(Saturday) January 28 2pm* / 7:30pm
(Sunday) January 29 4pm*
*Talk-Back to follow performance

Hamlet runs: 2.5 hours with one 10-minute intermission.

Tickets: $32 each or two for $40. Students/Seniors: $15

Tickets to Hamlet are available at

Hamlet By William Shakespeare/Directed by Javier Antonio González

Starring: Anne Gridley, Laura Butler Rivera, David Skeist, Jon Froehlich, Tania Molina, Veraalba Santa, Michael Barringer, Jorge Luna, Brooke Bell, and Pedro Leopoldo Sánchez Tormes.

Set Design: Jian Jung; Costume Design: Cristina Fitch; Lighting/Projections: Jeanette Oi-Suk Yew; Sound Design: Mark Van Hare. Stage Manager: Will Chaloner.

Caborca has presented work in New York at Pregones, IATI, Magic Futurebox, and Repertorio Español, in L.A. at the Los Angeles Theatre Center, and has been in residence in Cambridge at the American Repertory Theater. Javier Antonio González is the artistic director of Caborca and has been a member of the Public Theater’s Emerging Writers Group, a Van Lier Directing Fellow, an associate artist at Classic Stage Company, and a 2010 “Person of the Year”.

Jersey City Theater Center, Inc. (JCTC) manages programming at Merseles Studios and the adjacent White Eagle Hall. JCTC is a nonprofit, 501c3 arts organization committed to presenting innovative and progressive performing & visual arts as well as educational arts programs that embrace the multicultural identity of Jersey City, bringing its community closer together and enhancing its quality of life. >

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