was presented by
John Angelos,
Marilyn Johnson

in March 2016

In his most ambitious project ever, OFF THE WALL THEATRE Director Dale Gutzman suspended his 2015-16 season for eight weeks to work intensely with ten actors on a radical new version of William Shakespeare's HAMLET. The play ran for three weeks. Thanks to the kind donations of loyal OFF THE WALL supporters, Gutzman was able to close the space, continue to pay the rent and spend the extra time workshopping a highly re-structured and edited version of what is considered the world's most famous play. Gutzman's approach was inspired by a fast-paced, thrilling, highly intimate production of the play created by Peter Brook, a veritable Guru of Theatre and Shakespeare. 

"One of the exciting things about Shakespeare is that we are able to explore and examine diverse elements in his rich works. No single production can ever encompass the vast world of ideas and feelings he includes in each of his plays, so every production, whether in London, New York, Chicago or Milwaukee, looks at a play like HAMLET through a limited perspective. The options Mr. Shakespeare gives us serve to boggle our minds. 

There are no right or wrong answers to questions like: 

1. Does Hamlet love or hate his mother? 
2. Does Gertrude know more than she lets 
3. Does Hamlet really love Ophelia? 
4. Is it right or wrong to seek revenge? 
5.Are we in control of our own destiny? 
6.Is Hamlet really Mad? 
7.Can a person ever really be "authentic" and real? 
and literally hundreds more. 

Every production uses the complex text to justify their choices, and Shakespeare's marvelous ambiguity allows for various interpretations. It is usually the person who actually knows very little about Shakespeare's plays who insists on a single or "correct" way to look at them. Traditionalists are more steeped in their own limited exposure to the plays than they are in the plays themselves. 

So Gutzman and his talented hand-picked cast shut themselves up in his shoe-box theater to prepare an intimate production of HAMLET that played to only twenty-five people a performance. The acting took place only a few feet from the front row of patrons, and the characters interacted directly with the audience. Gutzman spent almost two years sorting through hundreds of productions of the play, searching for the key choices made by others, and in March 2016 presented these choices to his cast, saying to them..."JUSTIFY EVERYTHING YOU DO BY THE TEXT!" 

Gutzman has directed HAMLET three times before, once with a very young MARK RYLANCE playing the leading role. That production toured portions of America with fifteen actors, three cars and a truck. The Director's instructions to his current cast were simple. "Clear your calendars for eleven weeks. You are to be available for any and all rehearsals. There is no set rehearsal schedule. We will battle with each hurdle in the show as we come to it." The cast agreed at once to these rigid demands. The cast consisted of: Jeremy C Welter, Randall Anderson, Marilyn White, Patrick McCann, Robert Hirschi, Calynn Klohn, Max Williamson, Erin Eggers, Lawrence J. Lukasavage, Nathan Danzer, Isaac Danzer, Mark Ninneman, Sandy Lewis, and Gutzman himself