Hamlet on Alcatraz, 2010

Press Release 1
Press Release 2
Press Release 3

Written by William Shakespeare
Directed by Ava Roy
Produced by Lauren D. Chavez & Ava Roy

In an historic partnership, the National Parks Service and We Players presented Shakespeare’s Hamlet as an island-wide interactive experience. Offering unprecedented opportunities to enter areas ordinarily closed to visitors, the performance uses both intimate spaces and cinematographic vistas with simultaneous action on multiple levels. We Players lead the designated audience along a carefully crafted route, while regular park visitors were provided with numerous opportunities to interact with the performance. Alcatraz’s compelling landscape provides a perfect natural setting for Hamlet and the central themes of the text speak to the charged and varied history of The Rock.

“There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

Hamlet struggles with how to be – or even whether to be – and what to do. He grapples with his filial, social and stately obligations, as well as his own emotions and the essential human predicament of putting thought into action. Hamlet’s struggles with conscience, obligations and fear invite us to consider fundamental questions of how to live.

Exploring the Alcatraz themes is a process of developing deeper understanding, rather than judging or justifying the choices people make. Forgiveness and healing come from understanding. Art helps us hold “as ‘twere, the mirror up to nature” and therein see our hindering patterns, whereby we may unlock them.

The play,  like Alcatraz itself, examines the spectrum of crime and consequences. The story eventually demonstrates the results of pursuing justice through vengeance, when the momentum of revenge results in the death of everyone on stage, save Horatio who is left to explain the carnage for all of history. Can we learn from this story and create new paths into the future?


Alcatraz Island, San Francisco

The Cast

Ophelia: Misti Boettiger
Player King/Guide/Fortinbras: Steve Boss
Gertrude: Carly Cioffi
Polonius: Jack Halton
Player: Ali Hanson
Osricke/Guide/Others: Geof Libby
Player Queen/Player: Rebecca Longworth
Hamlet: Andrus Nichols
Player: Caroline Rebecca Parsons
Claudius: Scott D. Phillips
Player: Sallie Romer
Barnardo/Rosencrantz: Kevin Singer
Laertes: Benjamin Stowe
Horatio: Nicholas Trengove
Marcellus/Guildenstern: Ross Travis
Player: Cara Zeisloft

The musicians

Jenna Brace, Danny Cao, Eric Drake, Todd Grady, Henry Hung
Sam Hernandez, Josh Tower, Thomas Trono, Rob Woodcock

The Production Team

Assistant Director/Ranger Liaison: Steve Boss
Production Manager/Lead Designer: Tanya Orellana
Assistant Production Manager: Elizabeth Nichols
Composer & Musical Director: Charlie Gurke
Original Gravedigger’s song composed by Steve Boss
Fight Choreographer: Trampas Thompson
Fight Choreographer: Tim Brown
Costume Designer: Julia Rose Meeks
Lighting Designer: Alejandro Acosta
Puppet Designer: Anna Whitehead
Mask Designer: Annie Hallatt
Production Assistants: Amit Bhalla, Phoebe Gelfand
Gallery Curator: Patrick Gillespie
Documentary Coordinator: Allison Keeley
Photographers: Mark Kitaoka, Tracy Martin, Peter Merts
Videographers: Jesus Contreras, Allison Keeley, Jacob Simas


Autumn 2010