& directed by: William Electric Black
composer: Valerie Ghent
choreography: Trebien Pollard
costume design: Beth Leward
production manager: Randy F. Simon
Cast: Oberon Adjepong,
Chris Brady, Eamonn Farrell, Michael Noon, Walter Pagan, Stephen Reyes,
Sean Seibert, George Sosa, Brian Walker, Vanessa Burke, Liz Davito, Susanna
Harris, Lauren Jacobs, Melissa Leiter, Erin Logemann, Mikey McCue, Walter
Pagan, Lauren Porter, Emily Tuckman, Joni Weisfeld, and Katharyn Yew
February 28 - March 10, 2002
Thursday - Sunday 8:00pm
Sunday Matinee 2:30pm First Floor
With "The Hamlet Project,"
William Electric Black adapts Shakespeare's tragedy into an edgy, urban hip-hop/rock
musical using the Bard's actual dialogue. Black previously rocked the classics
at La MaMa with "Romeo & Juliet: Tribal" and "Frankenstein:
The Rock Musical." The production features actor/hip hop artist Walter
Pagan as Hamlet; music by Valerie Ghent, hip-hop arrangements by William Electric
Black, Tony Mann and Giselle Hamburg, choreography by Trebien Pollard and costume
design by Beth Leward (Comedy Central). Shakespeare's mystery play
is re-set in a contemporary army base in this adaptation. The notion was inspired
by Hamlet's line about Denmark being a prison. Black thought to himself, "It's
not so much a prison as an armed camp." This led to the thought, "When
you're a soldier, you can't exactly do what you want." Hamlet, then, became
an unwilling soldier, who can't act upon his impulses. The wars inside--and
among the characters--could be literally matched with the external war, mounted
by Fortinbras' march, in such a concept. Five time Emmy award winner
William Electric Black (aka Ian James) will use his experience as a writer
for Sesame Street by turning the Players into a band of puppeteers. Rod puppets
were crested and choreographed by Craig Schatten, who is part a musical puppet
ensemble called Purple Felt. Schatten is also a writer of children's books
and children's songs. William Electric Black is known for his mastery
of edgy pop styles. In 1999, he and a company of 25 actors rocked The Club
at La MaMa in his ingenious adaptation, "Romeo and
Juliet: Tribal Rock Musical" that set Shakespeare's tragic love story to
rock, pop, reggae and rap music. To share this high-energy, high-concept production
with a wider audience, La MaMa moved it into its large Annex Theater for two
additional weeks. His other La MaMa productions are "Doo Wop Dracula,"
a '50s-style tuner about teen-aged rebels who bite, and "Frankenstein:
The Rock Musical," which captured the flavor, language and structure of
Mary Shelley's 1816 romantic novel while rocking it out with an ensemble of
16 actors and 13 production numbers. Black performed frequently
at La MaMa in the early '70s in plays directed by Andrei Serban and Ozzie Rodriguez.
Other shows he has written include "Billy Stars and Kid Jupiter,"
a sci-fi jazzical at Theater for the New City, and "The Sun Gets Blue,"
another jazzical staged at the Open Eye. Composer Valerie Ghent is
an engineer and background vocalist for the singing duo Ashford & Simpson
and keyboardist/vocalist for Deborah Harry (world tour). For this production,
Ghent has created twelve musical numbers that use rock, blues, R&B, and
gospel. She is founder of the Cornelia Street Cafe Songwriter's Beat and head
of West Street Records. Ms. Ghent and Mr. Black previously teamed up for the
La MaMa production of Black's "Romeo & Juliet: Tribal" rock musical.
Ghent will play keyboards for the production, accompanied by Tony Mann (drums)
and Giselle Hamburg (bass guitar). Mann has performed with GG Allin and Electric
Monster and has designed clothing for the likes of Alice Cooper and Joey Ramone.
Hamburg has been touring in Europe and China and recently recorded her latest
album with Loco Lizard, the French-American band of which she is lead singer
and bass player. Mann and Hamburg recently performed in Mr. Black's rock musical,
"The Damned," and can be seen in the rock band PUSH. Choreographer
Triebien Pollard has worked with Mr. Black on two other rock musicals, "The
Damned" (Kraine Theater, 2001) and "Frankenstein" (La MaMa, 2000).
He will be assisted by Sarah Weber-Gallo. Mr. Pollard has performed with The
Martha Graham Ensemble, Pilobilus and the Metropolitan Opera Ballet and has
worked as guest artist with Urban Bush Women. As a choreographer, he created
"Til Death Do Us Part," "Cries of The Prophets" and other
productions which have been performed throughout the US, England and Japan.
Costume designer Beth Leward is Executive Producer of Comedy Central Digital Media. Ms. Leward
recently assisted with costumes and set construction for Erin Keating's "Ravenous"
at the NY Fringe Festival and Mr. Black's rock musical, "The Damned."Walter
Pagan (Hamlet) has
appeared musically as a rapper for "Sharing The Dream, Living The Reality,"
an M.L.K. Tribute. He has also appeared with the Outlaws Stage and as a guest
rapper on the single, "Broadnax." Theatrically, he appeared most recently
in "A Thread In The Dark" at the Bank Street Theater. He has acted
at La Jolla Playhouse and in his original work, "I Ain't No White Boy,"
with the L.A.F. Traveling Rep. Production Manager Randy
F. Simon (aka Wolf), in his fourth La MaMa production with Mr. Black. Simon
shoots and directs music videos and has just finished a digital feature for
Mr. Black entitled "All Fall Down.