This past summer marked the rebirth of the project, when “lightning struck” and Kievman decided to revisit Hamlet as a second installment of the state-sponsored Music & Shakespeare Festival at Sobe Arts (following last year’s production of a music-infused Twelfth Night). For this production, casting proved to be particularly important because the focus was shifted away from the more technical aspects of the production due to budgetary restrictions and Kievman wished to emphasize the work itself over production value. Kievman wanted this early-stage version to be “just a first step” to finally get the opera up and running, be able to hear the music, and most importantly help it move to a company with the resources available to mount a full production. After a successful run at Sobe Arts, it is now being considered by the Public Theatre (which is of course particularly interested due to Kievman’s connection to the work and the project’s genesis under the guidance of Joseph Papp).
The New York City Opera and various other companies have expressed interest in the project as well. Sobe Arts itself was founded seven years ago, and the young company has a dual mission that encompasses both arts education and professional performance of “cutting edge, innovative work”. According to Kievman, “What makes a city a great arts community is the actual work that is being created there.” Hopefully, for the theatre lovers in South Florida, Hamlet is just the beginning.
Of all the Shakespeare-producing theatres in South Florida, I’ve definitely attended the greatest volume of shows at the New Theatre. Just to name a few, I remember really enjoying their productions of Othello, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, As You Like It, The Taming of the Shrew and The Winter’s Tale. The New Theatre has been around since the 80s and has recently moved to a new home at the Roxy Performing Arts Center. Personally, I love the New Theatre for its small-scale but consistently high-quality Shakespeare interpretations because they always add an innovative dimension to the work without trying too hard to be perceived as edgy.
I recall appreciating the audience-interactive elements of their The Taming of the Shrew because the shared moments didn’t seem at all forced and they really connected the audience to the action of the play. I’m excited to see how they explore the Shakespeare possibilities of a different performance space.