Beaches, cabanas, Shakespeare, string bikinis, and the glitz and glam of tipsy Ocean Drive—one of these things is not like the other! Don’t tell that to Miami-born playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, though. His commitment to cultivating a larger theatre audience in his hometown has been clear since the beginning, and as a preamble to GableStage’s Winter Shakespeare Festival launch in 2014; McCraney is bringing Hamlet to Miami’s infamously haunted Biltmore Hotel.
“I remember my grandma telling me ghost stories about the Biltmore. Hamlet is a ghost story, after all—I wanted to celebrate the rich and scary history of the two,” McCraney explains.
Initially adapted by McCraney and Bijan Shebani in conjunction with the Royal Shakespeare Company’s Young People’s Shakespeare program, this Hamlet—a slim, 90-minute version—first toured schools throughout the U.K. After its Jan. 12–Feb. 10 run at the Biltmore, the production will travel to the Joseph Caleb Auditorium in Liberty City and the South Miami-Dade Arts & Cultural Center in Cutler Bay to perform for thousands of wide-eyed teens.
A Hamlet quickie is apropos for the fast-paced rhythm and sizzle of Miami. McCraney humbly admits with a chuckle, “I don’t want to be in the theatre for two-and-a-half hours; it’s just not right. To make theatre truly ‘Miami,’ it must be on Miami’s terms. And that’s exactly what we did—festivities, music, speed and action.”