The Shakespeare Conference: SHK 16.1830 Tuesday, 8 November 2005
Date: Monday, 07 Nov 2005 00:28:38 -0800
Subject: Hamlet in Wales: "I fod neu dim i fod"
City snubs Welsh Hamlet
by Marc Baker
Nov 6 2005, Wales on Sunday
TO BE or not to be was not the question on actors' lips as they
performed Hamlet for the first time in Welsh.
Rather, it was why are there more of us on the stage than in the audience?
To quote Shakespeare, there was definitely something rotten in the state
of Swansea when just 28 people turned up to see the Bard's masterpiece
at the city's 1,021-seat Grand Theatre.
The 32-strong cast of red-faced thespians spent weeks rehearsing only to
find themselves performing in an all but empty auditorium.
And most of those who watched the production were there only because
they had been given complimentary tickets.
The cast spent weeks learning the line "I fod neu dim i fod", better
known as, "To be or not to be", but their efforts fell on deaf ears when
hardly any literature luvvies turned up to see their performance.
Wales Theatre Company producer Michael Bogdanov was specially
commissioned to turn the story of the Prince of Denmark into Welsh by
the Arts Council for Wales. His infatuation with England's glorious
playwright began more than 50 years ago, when he saw Welsh legend
Richard Burton tackle Othello.
But despite the flop, the Neath-born producer last night said he was
looking on the bright side.
The co-founder of the English Shakespeare Company said: "The turn out
was disappointing in many ways but in a way it was helpful because it
was the first performance in Welsh and it gave us a chance to fine tune
it in front of a small audience."
The actors perform Hamlet twice back-to-back, first in English and then
Adam Hopkins, 32, one of the members of the audience, said: "It was a
bit empty to say the least, but I actually enjoyed the production. It's
just a pity there weren't more people to clap at the end."
The producers are hoping for bigger audiences when the touring
production is performed elsewhere in Wales, including Cardiff, Milford
Haven, Brecon, and Llandudno.
And to make sure bums are on seats for the Cardiff shows, free tickets
are being handed out for the November 2-12 performances at the New Theatre.
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