The 18th International Shakespeare Festival in Gdansk is very special this year not only because it has come of age but most of all because of the opening of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre. From this year on the majority of the performances will be taking place at this new state-of-the-art theatre. However the festival will not change its format and will still encompass the whole of the Tricity.
The current edition of the festival is devoted to Hamlet, the most notorious, most analysed and most discussed play by William Shakespeare. This year the festival hosts two brilliant productions of Hamlet from Bulgaria and Germany.
One of these productions is Hamlet directed by the renowned Polish director Jan Klata, produced by a German theatre, Schauspielhaus Bochum. The premiere took place on March 9th 2013. Hamlet is the first play directed twice by Klata. His first adaptation of Hamlet was in 2004, exactly a decade ago. This production, called H. was staged by Teatr Wybrzeże in one of the warehouses of the former Gdansk Shipyard. Hamlet from Bochum interplays with the first adaptation in that the Hamlet from the Gdansk Shipyard, Marcin Czarnik plays two parts in the new production, the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father and Fortinbras. There are also many other allusions to the memorable Gdansk Shipyard version.
The other major production of Hamlet invited to the festival is directed by a Bulgarian theatre and film director, Javor Gardev, and was produced by the National Theatre in Sofia. Its unusually complex stage design has been specially adapted to incorporate the stage parameters of the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre and its unique technical capabilities including the opening roof.
A very unique experience for the fans of the Bard of Avon will be a production by The Q Brothers from Chicago who are the leading hip hop interpreters of Shakespeare. Their acclaimed touring production of Othello: The Remix is powerful, energetic and definitely one of a kind.
Also at the festival is the Great Puppet Theatre from Sankt Petersburg. In their Shakespeare Laboratory they will conduct artistic experiments on Shakespearean characters and the puppets they work with. In their world of minute detail some distinctive characters from Shakespeare’s plays will appear: King Lear, the witches from Macbeth, and some characters from Othello.
A meeting between the internationally renowned Polish actor Andrzej Seweryn and double bass player Olo Walicki resulted in a performance which combines theatre performance and concert entitled To be authentic, or not to be which will be hosted by the Gdansk Shakespeare Theatre as part of the festival. The main axis of the stage space and a kind of visual and musical habitat will be formed by a musical-instrument-cum-installation, Water Bass which will have also its premiere at the festival.
During the festival the 21st Golden Yorick winner for ‘the best adaptation of the works of William Shakespeare or new drama inspired by the works of William Shakespeare’ will be presented. The 2013/2014 Polish theatre season winner is Żeromski Theatre in Kielce and their production of The Taming of the Shrew directed by Katarzyna Deszcz and designed by Andrzej Sadowski.